It would be impossible to have missed all the recent buzz that Cyprus has the EU’s highest rate of caesarean section births. With this in mind, there is no better time to talk about natural labour and connecting to the pregnant female body.
After earlier screenings, Danae Stylianou’s documentary Birth Days will be shown at Technopolis 20, Paphos in Wednesday. The documentary aims to raise awareness and educate mothers, fathers, doctors and just about anyone about ‘the miracle of life’.
Caesarean births in Cyprus are four times higher than the World Health Organisation recommendations. Birth Days captures the transformational journey of a mother pursuing a natural birth after Caesarean, and her fight to reclaim her own body and regain trust in the maternity care system.
“How do we give birth to our children and what are the reasons for the increase in C-sections? Has labour become a ‘cascade of intervention’? What are women’s rights at labour and how can a woman gain confidence in her own female nature?” are some of the questions the documentary seeks to answer.
By presenting audiovisual material from natural births, interviews with health care professionals and a series of real events, Birth Days opens new horizons for labour as a natural experience. Has medicalisation of childbirth gone too far?
“When I started making this documentary, I could not have imagined all the amazing women I would be meeting, or the overwhelming feelings I would be experiencing when becoming witness to the miracle of life with my camera! Just like birth, this film had to be made with a one-woman crew. Being the camera and sound operator, gave me unprecedented access to the fascinating event of labour and birth. Raw images and emotion stand out of the real scenes that were filmed,” says director and producer Stylianou.
Going beyond the questioning of labour practices, Birth Days brings forward a philosophy about the management of pain and the capability of the human body to endure that pain, ‘my body was made for this’.
“As a filmmaker, I wanted to go deeper, and explore how we, as humans, accept our pains and agonies, overcome our fears and find ways to endure them. To me, childbirth is a raw representation of how we emotionally and physically experience our pains in life,” added Stylianou.
Cypriot documentary screening by Danae Stylianou. December 12. Technopolis 20, Paphos. 6pm. €6. English subtitles. Tel: 70002420