You’ll need 3 or 4 minutes to read this, but hopefully you’ll find it worthwhile!
THE ONE WORLD BIRTH JOURNEY BEGINS
Before we became parents we were filmmakers on the road to Hollywood. Okay, at least that was the dream! It was nine years ago and we’d just made our first feature film together, a psychological thriller which had been picked up by a Hollywood studio, and we couldn’t have been more excited. We were having meetings with studios executives in LA with a view to getting our next production off the ground and we thought life really couldn’t get better than this.
But, upon our return to the UK we discovered that we already had a completely different sort of production “in the can” – a baby! Yes! Life really couldn’t get better than this!
When you make films, you learn early on that extensive planning and preparation is the most essential part of the whole process. Preparing for parenthood was no different for us. We researched, we read everything, we watched everything and we asked question after question until we believed we’d drawn up the perfect birth plan.
But, as pretty much all new parents discover, there is rarely such a thing as a birth that goes to plan! And, as it turned out, our well-researched plan didn’t feature one bit in our birth experience.
Without doubt, the birth of our daughter was the most amazing thing that had ever happened to us, but the rather traumatic experience left us with many new questions.
How did this happen? When and why did we relinquish control? Did what happen really have to happen? Weren’t there alternatives? Were we to blame?
As we started asking these questions, we found we had even more. But no one was able to give us the answers we were desperate for.
A wonderful doula we had come to know suggested that if we wanted proper answers we should take our questions to the top. A conference was being held in France and many of the biggest names in childbirth were going to be there. So, at dawn of the day of our daughter’s third birthday, the three of us found ouselves on a train that took us on an adventure under the English Channel and across the continent to Strasbourg where we introduced ourselves to Ina May Gaskin, Michel Odent and Elizabeth Davis to name but a few of the birth heroes gathered there.
We had one simple question for them: what’s really going on with birth today?
Their answers made our jaws hit the floor.
What we heard made us realise that we had stumbled upon a story so dramatic, so full of tension, twists, turns and surprises that it would take a Hollywood-style trilogy just to scratch the surface!
We’d opened the door to a story that was impossible to close again.
And since that life-changing revelation we haven’t ceased travelling the world and asking our questions.
And that’s what One World Birth was all about. Trying to piece together the complex picture of birth today.
But over the course of the next few years it slowly dawned on us that this picture was fragmented to such an extent it may be impossible to piece together at all.
Over the last six years our journey has brought us into contact with hundreds of inspirational people: midwives, obstetricians, perinatologists, neonatologists, psychologists, anthropologists, doulas, childbirth educators, lactation consultants, authors, human rights lawyers… the list goes on and on.
But we found the path we were following kept twisting and turning until it felt that we were lost in a wilderness.
We experienced peoples’ passion, rage, fear, confusion, hope, bitterness, joy and frustration…
…midwives dragged into courts, mothers’ choices removed, sometimes forcibly so, accusations and misinformation…
Opinion was divided to the extent it was polarised.
The “noise” was deafening. Our heads were in a spin and we didn’t know in which direction to go forward.
We realised we had to change the conversation.
And so we went to speak to the scientists, in search of cold, hard facts. Could we cut through the passionate debate to find a “truth”?
Hopefully science would have the answers we were looking for.
THE PATHS CONVERGE – JOY!
As soon as we started talking to the scientists, things started to make more sense.
The paths started to converge.
The one answer that we had been looking for suddenly revealed itself. Almost out of the mists it appeared!
And it had been all around us all the time.
It seems blindingly obvious to us now, but it took a six year journey covering hundreds of thousands of miles, conversing with hundreds of individuals for the answer to reveal itself.
The problem with birth today is that we are disconnecting from nature.
What could be simpler than that?
The pieces of that fragmented jigsaw puzzle finally started to come together.
We are all well aware of the calamitous effect humankind has had on our planet. We have witnessed the results of the devastation we have wreaked on the macro environment.
But now we are starting to truly uncover the devastation we have inflicted on our inner micro environment: the microbial ecosystems that live in and on each and every one of us.
The widespread changes to our diet and where and how we live over the last seventy years or so has had a marked impact on our microbial communities, reflecting the damage we have done to our planet.
The micro is mirroring the macro: desertification, deforestation, unprecedented storms and ever more rapid species extinction.
As our global environment is losing its diversity, so is our microbial environment within us.
And, as we have learned from the scientists, it’s the diversity that protects us.
It’s the diversity of species that keep an ecosystem in balance.
Unfortunately, according to too many scientists, we may already have gone beyond the point of no return for our planet. We are now existing in a period of damage limitation and damage control. We are out of balance.
But, what has this got to do with birth?
THE SEEDING OF OUR MICROBIAL ECOSYSTEMS
As each new human life enters the world it is seeded with its own unique micro environment, it’s own imprint of nature that is inherited from its mother.
If this initial connection is disrupted then that community of microbes will be changed forever.
Just as with our global environment, that precious new life will be in damage control from the beginning, struggling to manage an unbalanced microbial ecosystem for a lifetime.
The GREAT news is that the problem may have been discovered just in time to do something about it.
We may not be too late to protect and preserve the diversity for the next generation.
NOW WE ARE STANDING AT THE CROSSROADS
Now we are at the point in our journey where we find ourselves at a crossroads.
Which direction should we take?
That is the question for One World Birth right now.
THE WAY FORWARD
Well, we are doing what is natural to us; we make films! But in a different way.
Feature length films take a lot of time and they cost an awful lot of money. And, inevitably, much of our work has to hit the cutting room floor. All those interview gems that we can’t fit in to a film just disappear forever. That can’t be right. Can it?
We realise we have to change.
We have to get all this important information out there as soon as possible, and as much as possible.
And we need to do this together.
We are huge advocates of the power of the world wide web. Social media, sharing, talking, debating…. finding solutions together.
There has never been a better time to do this than now.
We have been bugging the scientists to break free from their silos and share their knowledge to people who can put it to practical use.
Actually, it wasn’t hard; they have been so generous with their understanding of the science and they are thrilled that their work is getting a wider recognition.
We will play our part, but it will take all of us to find the solutions to the problems with birth today.
Of course we will continue to make the bigger films, but we promise not to go quiet in the meantime. We will bring these interview gems to you in different ways.
We will bring the scientists to the table and find ways to connect and converse with them.
WHAT CAN WE ALL DO?
Create a new plan.
A birth plan for the world.
A plan that includes the seeding of the infant microbiome and the subsequent feeding of the newly planted ecosystem to give our children the best possible chance for a full and healthy life.
Our goal is to bring a simple understanding of the complex science.
So, One World Birth has evolved!
We see one single road ahead: to reconnect with the microbial building blocks of nature, to give our children a better start in life and a solid foundation for lifelong health.
We promise to continue to find ways of communicating this essential knowledge to all birth professionals so that they can pass it on to all expectant parents.
Now One World Birth is no longer just about two filmmakers. It
is more than a blog, a web site or the films. It is about a community of
passionate people coming together to make change happen. It is about
thousands of individual voices creating one huge shout for birth that
will echo throughout the world.
We really hope you’ll want to join us on this journey and become part of One World Birth!
Alex & Toni