Narrated by Zoe Naylor Directed and produced by Jerusha Sutton, Zoe Naylor and Jo Hunter
In cinemas from mid-February 2021
For actress and activist Zoe Naylor, the birth of her second child in 2016 was a revelation. With Jo Hunter as her midwife, and Jerusha Sutton as her doula/birth videographer, Zoe emerged from the birth feeling transformed and with a deep sense of healing, an experience vastly different from her first birth.
Connected by their shared experience, Zoe, Jo and Jerusha began to research behind the scenes of Australia's maternity system, which sees over 300,000 new babies born each year, with all but 12,000 of these births taking place inside our hospitals.
They found that despite the access to world-class medical care that hospitalisation affords, this is not leading to better outcomes for mothers and babies.
In fact, through discussions with medical professionals and academics around the country, it became increasingly clear that something was very wrong – with birth trauma rampant (according to Dr Rachel Reed, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery and Midwifery Discipline Lead at the University of the Sunshine Coast, one in three women in the developed world describe their birth as traumatic), talk of a national postnatal depression epidemic, and skyrocketing intervention and caesarean rates (three times the figure proposed by the World Health Organisation).
Motivated to make a positive change, for the future of all women and their families, Birth Time: the documentary, and global human rights movement Birth Time were conceived and delivered.
Birth Time takes a deep dive into what birth looks like for women in the developed world, asking the question, "What would it take for women to emerge from their births physically well, and emotionally safe?"
Realised over four years of ongoing research and evidence gathering, the film opens with the home birth of Zoe Naylor's second child, Beau; follows other women throughout their pregnancies and births; and interviews Australian women and their partners from all walks of life to hear their birth stories, gaining an insight into what women experience during the births of their babies.
Global experts – including midwives, obstetricians, academics and lawyers, back up their experiences, questioning how and why our broken system fails women, their partners and the caregivers working within it.
Whilst two inspiring indigenous midwives – founders of the Birthing on Country initiative, share their thoughts on the importance of bringing culturally sensitive care to pregnant and birthing indigenous women.
Throughout these interviews a theme emerges, an idea astonishing in its simplicity backed up by global evidence - One Woman, One Midwife.
If all women could choose to work in partnership with one midwife who provided them with continuity of care throughout their entire pregnancy, birth and postnatal period, more women could emerge from their births physically well and emotionally safe, inspired and empowered to connect with their child and tackle the challenges of motherhood.
Birth Time: the documentary explores the trauma that is inflicted on women as they go through an experience which should be amongst the most joyous of their lives, and through the insights of experts, evidence AND women's stories, looks at how we can do so much better for women, their babies and their families.
We emerge with a picture of hope and love, showing the real possibility that women in the developed world CAN emerge from their births feeling physically well, and emotionally safe.
Written, produced and directed by first-time filmmakers, Zoe Naylor, Jo Hunter and Jerusha Sutton, Birth Time: the documentary is already a winner on the international film festival circuit, taking home a slew of awards including Best Documentary Feature, Best Directors and Best Women's Issue Film, alongside numerous other nominations and special mentions.