Freedom for Birth film aimed at taking back the childbirth experience
When a British couple delivers their labour of love this Thursday, it will be attended by women all over the world.
Freedom for Birth, to be screened around the globe including at two Toronto locations, is an hour-long documentary promoting every woman’s right to safe childbirth — wherever and however she chooses.
The filmmakers, British couple Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford, hope their work will spark a revolution in maternity care. To generate momentum, they sold the DVD, in 17 languages, to hundreds of groups interested in holding simultaneous screenings and discussions.
Safe birth is a fundamental human right, they say on their website. The film “reframes human rights as the most pressing issue in childbirth today.”
In some parts of the world, it’s a matter of life and death because women don’t have access to physicians, midwives, clean water or the most basic medical care.
In others, it’s about the right to choose natural childbirth and make decisions throughout pregnancy, labour and delivery at a time when birth has become increasingly medicalized, with interventions like caesarean sections climbing.
The film will be shown in downtown Toronto at Innis Town Hall at 7 p.m., followed by a panel discussion. There is no admission, but pay what you can.
“We thought (the film) it would be a perfect fit,” says Erin Armstrong, a student midwife and co-chair of the Association of Ryerson Midwifery Students, which organized the event.
Women deserve to know they have choices rather than being driven by fear or lack of discussion about their options, says Armstrong.
“A big part of changing that is normalizing natural childbirth.”
In Ontario, mothers can give birth in hospital, at home, and soon, in the province’s first two midwife-run birth centres for low-risk women. But there are currently not enough midwives to meet demand, so in many communities that leaves little choice for women.
At the same time, interventions like epidurals and inductions are rising and more than one in four births is by C-section.
Freedom for Birth includes interviews with physicians, lawyers, academics and well-known natural childbirth advocates author Sheila Kitzinger of Britain and American midwife Ina May Gaskin. It also features Hungarian midwife Ágnes Geréb, whose arrest and incarceration for helping women give birth in their homes galvanized the international movement.
The film “reminds women they have a voice in their care and a right to ask questions and to say no,” says Toronto doula Heather Neville. “This is where we fall short in our culture.”
Neville and another local mother arranged a smaller screening at the Centre for Social Innovation at 7 p.m., free of charge and followed by a group discussion.
A preview of the film can be seen at Freedom for Birth website.
thestar.com – Living