One World Birth ignites global revolution starting with communities

The first time I watched Freedom for Birth was at a quaint yoga studio that smelled of coffee beans and patchouli. A summer breeze swirled through the studio where men, women and children gathered to learn about human rights issues in childbirth.

On my ride home, I clenched the steering wheel unusually tight. I was (and still am) enraged by the constraints placed on women’s choices within maternity care.

unnamedUK based One World Birth (OWB) filmmakers Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford have a way with exposing the indecencies of maternity care systems worldwide, inspiring communities, and “igniting a global revolution.”

“Bringing people together to discuss new ideas, new issues, that’s where it’s at,” Harman says.

Coming together to watch any one of the many OWB films, including the latest, Microbirth, allows viewers to make personal connections, implement plans and start action groups. Microbirth was screened at this year’s International Breastfeeding Conference.

There’s nothing better than a community screening to drive action, Harman says.

Social media plays a big role in spreading awareness, too. Harman speaks of the digital revolution where information is no longer confined to books; where Facebook updates and Tweets can contain essential information.

“…Surely we should use the Internet for what it is so good at,” Harman and Wakeford write on their website. OWB “is about thousands of individual voices creating one huge shout for birth that will echo throughout the world.”

“The more people communicate and connect, the more knowledge is spread,” Harman tells me.

Of course this is key, because knowledge is power. The more women know, the more we are empowered in childbirth, and subsequently in the way we live after birth.

Harman became interested in childbirth after having an emergency c-section. Sharing stories and talking to others about their birth experiences inspired the work Harman and Wakeford do today as filmmakers and birth warriors.

In fact the process of making one of their documentaries starts with just that, a conversation. In the past few years, Harman and Wakeford have interviewed obstetricians, perinatologists, midwives, doulas, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists and academics “engaged in the very latest, cutting edge research.” [http://www.oneworldbirth.net/about/ ]

Microbirth, for example, started with an exchange with Professor Soo Downe about epigenetics. Professor Hannah Dahlen then introduced the team to the microbiome.

“The seeding of the baby’s microbiome is so important,” Harman explains. “It has long lasting effects that could extend through several generations.”

“The formation starts at birth,” she continues. “My mission at the moment is to spread awareness of how amazing this is.”

In a Huffpost article, Harman suggests every expectant mother ask her care provider, ‘How will you help me seed and feed my baby’s microbiome?’

Harman reports that most medical professionals are unfamiliar with the influence childbirth and breastfeeding have on the baby’s microbiome and future health.

“…It might take decades for change to happen from the top down. But I believe change can happen much quicker from the bottom up. And it could start with all expectant mothers simply asking the one extra question,” Harman continues in the article.

During our interview she tells me, “I love the idea of parents being empowered. You change the world by dissemination of knowledge…The power rests within us– as parents, as ordinary people.”

Watch for Harman and Wakeford’s next film, a followup to Microbirth, in Spring 2016.

Tell us, how has OWB inspired you?

Connect with OWB at the following websites: http://microbirth.com & http://facebook.com/microbirthmovie  & http://freedomforbirth.com & http://doulafilm.com & http://oneworldbirth.net and find them on Facebook.

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