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Face of Birth

18 reviews
Face of Birth

'A film about Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Power of Choice'

A must see for all Australians, ‘The Face of Birth’ is a film that is not just about homebirth but that outlines the importance of education in birthing and the right of a woman to choose the best birth method for her and her baby. A valuable birthing resource, whether you are yet to birth, have birthed in hospital or at home, this film is about women and men supporting one another in a woman’s right to choose.

Parent Reviews and Comments

I watched this film before we fell pregnant and felt so empowered to try for a natural birth and even began considering homebirth. After doing a lot more research I was appalled at how high our caesarean rate is (especially in private hospitals) which was when I decided that i was going to attempt a homebirth.

Thankfully we were blessed with a normal pregnancy which allowed us to continue down the homebirth path. We had an amazing, successful homebirth at 41 weeks and it was the most amazing experience of my life.

i honestly believe that this film should be made available in all our hospitals/clinics for expectant parents and parents TTC to provide them with a different view to pregnancy and childbirth :)

Catherine Grima

I came across this film after I was doing some individual research. I became so interested by the topic of birth after I had many family members and friends who had babies, and it seemed so many of them had interventions and almost half of them ended up with caesareans. My local private hospital caesarean rate it at an alarming 46% this seemed horrific to me, and I thought to myself there must be a better way.

The Face of Birth, exemplified the power and wonder that birth brings, and that birth is a natural process. This film shared beautiful stories, highlighted well educated midwives/ob's and showed the importance of women having a choice of where and with whom they give birth. I know that when my husband and I decide to start our family I will be well informed, educated and will know my rights in birth. Home to me seems the most secure, safe and beautiful environment to welcome a baby into the world. Although home birth is not for everyone, I will definitely be having my baby at home, I just hope this choice is still available for women in the future. 


I'm 34wks pregnant and have been on an interesting journey in my discovery of birthing options.

I started out fearful of birth, and thinking a hospital - and a good hospital at that - was the most important factor in deciding where I should give birth. In my early appointments with doctor / midwife etc I never realised what other options there might be, or the political issues surrounding our choices for birth.

Luckily I started seeing a chiropractor after finding out about the Well Adjusted Babies book by Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani - I saw her on TV on one of my early morning sickness days.
My Chiro then gave me a copy of the US 'Pathways' magazine, which is heavily in favour of natural birth. And it was in this copy of the magazine that I came across Ina May Gaskin.

That has been one of the most influential changes in my journey, discovering Ina May's natural childbirth book. And then led me to discover so many other options and schools of thought on birth. Including a weekend with my partner at Peter Jacksons Calmbirth course.

The Face of Birth documentary, is the first australian based footage I have seen that is in the favour of natural birth practices, and understanding the possible pitfalls of intervention (on both mother and baby).

I know intervention has its place, and hospitals provide amazing support for high risk pregnancy and birth. I am also yet to experience my birth journey, and where this may take me. But I have been so surprised about how many negative reactions I have had from other Mums and even Mum's to be on my goals to have a natural birth. Or anyones awareness of the political minefield we walk into when we set out on making our birth choices.

Most people look at me with a knowing smile, or even laugh at my desires to create as natural a birth as possible. I am not planning a home birth, but possibly would have if it wasn't so expensive to achieve (I'm a public patient, low risk, and am looking at supporting my birth with a doula). I feel strongly that my body was made to do this and drugs should not be considered the only route (sure take this route if its right for you) but please don't trample my positive attitude.

Whatever happens at my birth, I really hope that we women start treating each other with more kindness and realise that we are strong and capable.  I can count the positive birth stories of my friends and family on one hand, but have lost count of the negatives ones I've now been told - it seems everyone I meet these days feels the need to debrief their birth story to me. A bit of education and positive planning surely will go a much longer way to ensuring we have much better experiences.

This film supports people understanding choices outside the mainstream. It is heavy on the home birth side, but I feel that is in balance to the overwhelming information we already discover for the medical model.

Kathryn Bishop

I found the film to be very powerful and inspiring.  Having had 2 x c/s, I felt that the film highlighted the importance of women having choice when it comes to how they want to give birth in Australia. 

I was heavily impacted by the interviews with the indigenous women in the Northern Territory and was appauled that most of them are not able to give birth on country - this needs to change!  I was also shocked by the mental health statistics that were presented and know that with the proper education and support, these statistics can be minimised.

In my line of work, we see many women who are not being mentally or emotionally supported during pregnancy or during the post-natal period and we try to fill that gap.  However, if all women were given more education and choices before they were even pregnant, mother's in our country may be better equipped to start their parenting journey.

When old enough, my daughters will be seeing this film, to open their minds to the possibilities available to them - they can then make their own choices and feel empowered.

Let's support a women's right to choose - whether that is a hospital birth, midwife led care or a home birth, we all deserve the right to choose and to be supported, not judged!

I would highly recommend all women of child bearing age, to see this film.


I admit I went into this movie with a lot of bias. I had heard that it was very mainstream, and a lot of women who thought it would be more about home-birth were disappointed.
I was struck by how real it was. It truly covered the whole maternity system in Australia, while coming from a 'give us all our choices' direction. It didn't attempt to alienate or demonise any birthing choices which had been a concern for me after watching the business of being born..

Additionally, it truly discussed the reasons why maternity care in Australia is the way it is, and the true boundaries to change.

My only dislike was that it made the UK sound like utopia, which from my own studies i have learnt its not. definitely better than Australia, but no maternity system is perfect.

This was definitely a worth while movie for any woman considering birthing in Australia. The passion, and power that the women told their stories with will stay with us all.
And the combined knowledge of the people who appeared made this film truly phenomenal.

I would definitely recommend this movie to all childbearing-age Australians.


I do not normally get personally involved in all the different things we promote on the site but I felt this cause justified our support.

Initially I thought the movie was just about home birth but what I discovered after the first 20 minutes is that it is about a parents right to choose how they want to deliver and to be supported no matter what that decision is.

The main focus in my opinion is that all participants in a birth should have the birth as a fond memory.  And that our system should support parents and medical practitioners to achieve that EVERY time.

I dislike losing to the Poms & Kiwi's in sport but to be behind them when it comes to having babies, well that is just not cool!

I am not saying that everyone should have a home birth or a midwife lead birth (my personal preference).  I am saying that if the parents want a C-Section or a home birth then the medical community should be supported to assist parents have whatever birth they want.

Sure there are some births where the danger requires hospitalisation but for most it is a natural process that humans have been doing for thousands of years before hospitals existed.

A system that allows parents to make an informed choice about their birthing options - whatever that may be - is a must!

The Bub Hub urges all parents that want a system that supports ALL without judgement to sign the petition and join the cause.

Brad Lauder


The Bub Hub


Whilst this film seemed to have quite a strong focus on home birth, it was extremely helpful to me as a first-time pregnant mum.  I have had so much advice from friends and family about what I should and shouldn't do, and find it quite overwhelming.  It was great to hear the different perspectives.

The film did not make me change my mind on our birthing choices (we are in the public hospital system, but have been accepted into our local Midwifery Group Practice, and will be attempting a water birth) but the film did help me feel empowered to make my own decisions and keep my mind open to changing our birthing plan if the need arose.  

I think this film is great in helping drive change in what appears to be quite a touchy subject, and I would recommend it to anyone who would be willing to consider alternative birthing options.

I would certainly consider home births now with our second pregnancy, but would never have given it a thought before watching this film.  It did not just provide opinions, but gave evidence to back it up.


I found this film to be not at all what i was expecting. i found it somewhat difficult to follow as it wasn't very engaging.

It also came across as though the only way to birth was by home birth and that hospital birth and caesarean births are not a good choice. I was quite astounded at how much they carried on about home birth and how its the best way to give birth, maybe it is for some but not everyone.

They also implied that women giving birth in hospitals don't consent to procedures during labour, that doctors etc just do them without asking first.

if it was a film that was really about birth choices then there should have been more information about all birth choices and real life accounts from people that have chosen all different ways of birthing their children.

I realise that their intention was to portray that all women should have the right to birth how they wish and thats right they should have that choice.

I really don't think this film was as informative of women and their available birth choices as it was intended to be.

This review is coming from someone that has had a public hospital birth and loved it very low intervention (problem with placenta), sole midwife care.
I don't know that I would recommend it for anyone to watch. Someone that hasn't previously given birth may find it helpful or they may find it even more confusing.


I watched this today with my partner and WOW!

My partner is a midwife and cried at how much support there really is out there for women's right to choose. I have always wanted a home birth, but to see that the support for this as a choice has grown and that there is hope to actually change things here in Australia is amazing. As women we really do deserve the right to choose whether that is a c-section with a private obstetrician or a natural birth at home in a birth pool, and every other way in-between the two.

In the next twelve months the rights for women will be based on the government's ruling on midwifery based care and what indemnity insurance midwives will have if they choose to be part of home birthing, at the moment, they have medicare subsidies and benefits, but insurance is limited to none. Therefore this DVD is one that can open eyes and ensure that women are aware of the choices available and can make the choice around the care they have throughout the pregnancy and birthing processes, a choice based on evidence, education and knowledge.

I love it and I love that it's filmed with all sides of birthing, keeping it more objective, however it also raises the issue of lack of choice and fear that women have around birth, and this can only be fixed by women being vocal about birth and encouraging one-another to go with want they need/want from birth and to choose based on knowing themselves and their own bodies, not choices based on fears, media, a select few medicalised views or simply because they just didn't know.

We as women have freedom in so many ways, but it is 2012, why not enable each other to choose the way we birth? Birth is a huge life event, and it's such a huge part of any family, choice is just the next step in what women need/want and why not?


The Face of Birth documents the failure of Australia’s maternity services to provide women with birthing choices (particularly homebirth) and how this compares to other Western countries. There are interviews from leading advocates for women’s birthing rights (including Sheila Kitzinger and Michel Odent), the President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists as well as a range of women recounting their frustrations with trying to secure the birth they wanted.

If the objective of the show was a platform for crusade to support homebirth in Australia then it succeeded. If the objective was to highlight the high levels of intervention during birth and the impacts this may have then there was room for improvement.

The documentary discusses how the medicalisation of birth in Australia is so institutionalised that women are often ridiculed for seeking a more natural birthing experience. It further explores how in the world of obstetrics, maternity success is measured purely in terms of an alive mother and baby with no regard to the pregnancy journey, the birth or the post natal period.

There was a smattering of talk about results from studies but I did feel there was some lost opportunity to utilise raw data to strengthen their points. For instance it would have been interesting to hear what percentage of labouring women had some form of intervention.

Homebirth is soon to be illegal in Australia because it is deemed too risky for mothers and babies. A collection of medical professionals want to limit birth choices under the guise of being  “advocates” for babies. I suggest their efforts would be better served by reducing the number of elective caesareans as, according to the documentary, 1 in 10 babies born by elective CS will be admitted to NICU.

I thought the most pertinent quote from the documentary was from Hannah Dahlen (Associate Professor of Midwifery, University of Western Sydney).

"If you’re a low risk woman, healthy pregnancy, you walk into the doors of our institutions what you do is you embark on a cascade that often takes you in a direction you never anticipated. You arrive, the midwife puts you on a bed, she puts a monitor on your belly, she examines you, she takes your blood pressure, she finds something going on in the monitor, there’s a deviation on the trace, so the monitor never comes off and now you’re really uncomfortable because you’re on the bed. You need pain relief, you’re going to have an epidural, now you’re going to need a drip, now you’re going to need a catheter, now you are never ever going to get off that monitor. Ok, we progress, your labour slows down, now you need oxytocin, now you get to second stage, guess what, you can’t push because you can’t feel. So now we get the forceps out, now we cut the episiotomy. Suddenly you’ve got a baby in your arms and yes, you’re alive and the baby’s alive but has that been a good experience and did it need to happen that way?"

Essentially the debate is “do woman have the right to choose?” Should you, as a mother, have the right to chose how you would prefer to birth your baby? If you’re having a baby, I highly recommend watching this documentary.

Thrifty Mama

I am pretty passionate about people empowering themselves through knowledge so they can feel informed and in control when making birth choices so none of the information I received was startling to me, but at the start of this pregnancy this film would have been most welcome as an eye opener. It is amazing that you can give birth in Australia (several times for some women) and not feel like you have any choice about the way your baby enters the world. 

The film does start off as if it is purely about home birth in Australia and how terrible hospital births can be, which may put some people off when watchiong the start. I do feel that it meandered a little, in an attempt to tell many stories of many women from many angles it failed to be clear on the story of the film. 

Personally I found all the interviews to be a bit overwhelming and a little dry, the format did not engage me-I'd like to see some more birth imagery (that's a sure fire engage-me-and-make-me-cry tactic!) and more about how great women can feel having an informed, empowered birth whereas the emphasis seemed to be on how feeling helpless and uninformed in birth can have long reaching and devastating psychological effects. A subtle but important difference for me.

Having said that, I am already an informed consumer and this pregnancy I have made it my business to be one (yes two normal births under my belt and I still had questions and gaps in my knowledge such as why physiological third stage or why managed?) so perhaps this film isn't as relevant to me as I thought it would be, but if watching this film is a catalyst for change with a handful of people who were going to just go with the flow and have their babies questioning why they are doing things they don't feel comfortable with and looking at the options which will enable them to bring their babies in the world the way they want then it has done it's job. I would encourage first time parents to watch this film as an essential part of a prenatal education.


The Face of Birth accomplishes what I think it sets out to – to portray a number of reasons for woman and practitioners who choose this method of birth to feel good about themselves and their choices, and to feel justified indignation at the possibility of it disappearing in Australia.  It does not succeed in providing a perfectly balanced discussion about birth choices in general, although it does make an attempt in this area with the inclusion of one woman who is proud of her choice to birth both of her children by caesarean.  It is very interesting viewing for anyone who is concerned about keeping birthing options legal and affordable in Australia, especially if you don’t mind if the choice in debate is one you would never make for yourself.

I fit in that last group.  I had no interest in a home birth for my first 2, and have chosen to go back to the same obstetrician and private hospital with my 3rd, due in 3 months, partly because I did have very good experiences the last times, and partly because that is how I will feel most supported and therefore will choose to deliver.  I had hoped to watch this film and feel uplifted about all types of birth, but instead couldn’t help feeling a little like my choices were being portrayed as less valid than women who birthed at home.  Most of the experts portray the message in various ways that today’s pregnant women are not informed when they choose obstetrician or hospital-based care, but are instead lied to and informed of decisions made for them rather than offered choices, while that society-leading minority who choose homebirth do so because they are both informed and educated.  I am a very pro-choice type of person by nature, and this is probably why I felt compelled to keep watching despite how seemingly negative the messages became at times.  I did love Noni Hazlehurst’s positivity and description of the blissful feeling after the birth of her son, but I think the filmmakers failed in showing that it can be achieved through lots of other choices around birth too, not just one in where it occurs at home.

The Face of Birth does a very good job of showing why it is important for homebirth to continue to be an available and affordable option.  Unfortunately, it offers only a disappointing brush over birth choices in general.  I would recommend this film to anyone who is interested in homebirth or birth choices (despite its limitations).  I certainly didn’t realise that the arrangements that continue to make homebirth legal as of a few years ago were only temporary, and are due to expire next year.  This is an important message which should be widely distributed.  But I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone I know who made choices I equally respect, but may have included interventions such as epidurals, inductions and caesareans who were not particularly interested in homebirth as a future alternative.


I must admit the DVD isn't what I was expecting. On my first watch my heckles went up thinking I was going to have to listen to a bunch of hippies promoting home birth. I didn't make it to the end that time but after some quiet thought and another watch a day later I realised the hidden messages. It speaks a lot about home birth but is really about a womans right to choose. It explains the hidden truths about deaths during birth and how the birth of a child can affect the mental health of a mother.

I believe this DVD does get the intended point across. We get to choose if we have surgery to fix something, we choose if our teeth are to be repaired, we choose if we want to get a doctors opinion if we are ill so why can we not choose where to give birth. It is a terrible thing that some women have to go through so much mental anguish because of other people forcing what they believe is right on the people around them.

I had 2 hospital births, I had just midwives, I had choices and I'm happy with both births. I was never forced. I wish there had been more in there telling people that even in a hospital birth it is still your choice and they can not do anything without your permission.

I would recomend this to all people but to get the full message I think a lot of people like myself need to watch it more than once. I now see that it isn't just a minority of hippies but a large group of people more informed than myself that are striving to get a mothers birthing right recognised.

A well put together DVD and worth the watch.


As a woman who is only just starting their journey towards giving birth and parenthood I found the DVD both compelling and empowering.

When I viewed the opening scenes I thought “Oh no, not some women’s rights political movie” but the film turned out to be far more than that. It was a raw and open account of women and their struggles to give birth the way they want, whether this be at home, by elective caesarean or ‘on country’ for our native people. It told stories of women who had control and who had lost control of their wants during the birth of their child.

The movie had a strong focus on home birth but I found that this focus embodied the true meaning of ‘the power of choice’. For a woman to be able to choose to have her birth, her way, in her home is the ultimate of freedoms. I would not choose a home birth but I found the way that the issue is addressed in the film as empowering for any women looking to have a child.

I feel that the DVD is suitable for a general audience and would be welcomed by women of all ages. Although the film addresses the serious issue about a women’s right of choice in this country and the frequency of unnecessary intervention during birth, I wish I had the opportunity to view something like this earlier in my life. The film has opened my eyes to many issues surrounding birth and the right of women to have her own needs and wants as the mother addressed. I feel that the film has given me the knowledge to ask questions, be cynical, and push for my dreams.


This documentary is very heavily centred around the lack of support for homebirthing in Australia, particularly in comparison to other Western countries.  There is a very strong focus on the argument for homebirthing and very little about choices given/made in the hospital system. In fact, I would go to the point of saying that if this is truly a documentary about empowering women about their choices, I feel that the hospital system (both public and private) are grossly under-represented and when they are talked about, it is mostly in a very negative light.

As a first time mum-to-be, who has chosen to go through the private hospital system, I found the views and experiences shared in this documentary to be somewhat overwhelming and confronting - and not in a pleasant, eye opening way. For as much as many of the experts and mothers that were interviewed expressed how homebirthing is to some degree mocked or questioned about its appropriateness, this is exactly the same scrutiny/belittling as the private hospital system is put under by them.

My husband and I both felt uncomfortable throughout this documentary as it felt like we were being criticised for our choice to utilise the hospital system. I very much felt that the hospital birthing experience is made out, in this documentary, to be a lot more unnatural than it really is.

Certainly, the documentary was eye-opening - and I agree that homebirthing should be available and supported for those women that want it. I particularly enjoyed the section on indigenous culture around birth. However, for our situation as I described above, it was not "empowering" at all.  With the exception of one interviewed lady who reported a fantastic hospital experience, the majority of the other interviews focused on negative hospital experiences.

Would I recommend this documentary? Yes, if you are curious about homebirthing or want to know more about your options out there. If you have had a pleasant hospital experience, or are planning a (first time) hospital birth, it might not be of much interest. I won't be recommending it to any of my girlfriends who are pregnant and going through the hospital system, as I think that a generally very good health system that we are privileged to have access to, is very largely misrepresented by a handful of people who have had negative experiences.


This movie i felt focused alot on women being able to have the right to choose what kind of birth they would like.

It does focus a lot on home births, and does seem to have a lot of interviews from women who have had bad experiences with hospitals.

It opened up my mind to a fair few topics and it also gives good advice on your choices to childbirth.

I would recommend this film to anyone who would like to be enlightened into the different choices of childbirth.  


An informative and very powerful film about childbirth in Australia. A must see for any pregnant woman who may not be aware of current practices in this country.

Some frightening statistics discussed in regard to mothers suffering from PTSD after giving birth and the high rate of mothers suffering with mental health issues and maternal suicide. Some especially confronting information about the treatment of pregnant and birthing Indigenous women in remote Northern Territory and the general lack of understanding and regard for their spiritual and cultural needs.
Included interviews with amazing childbirth experts. The focus of the film - a mother's right to choose and have a voice concerning what happens with her own body.

The Face of Birth was a fantastic documentary outlining the lack of women’s choice surrounding childbirth, and in particular homebirth, in this country. The film shared the stories of a number of women who chose homebirth despite the system not supporting them, and the points of views of medical experts for and against homebirth were also shared to form a balanced argument.

The strong women in this film who fought to have the birth they wanted made me smile at the candid ways in which they spoke about their journeys, though I also found myself shedding tears for them when they struggled in their fight to bring their babies into the world the way in which they so desperately wanted.

Kate Gorman has done a wonderful job of bringing this issue out into the open to inform and educate the public on the importance of women’s choice in regards to birth and homebirth. The film compares Australia to the UK and New Zealand, countries so similar to ours and with good birth outcomes whom give women access to publicly funded homebirths with independent midwives. It is about time that Australia follows in the footsteps of these countries and remembers that birth is a normal physiological process and women should be given back their rights to choose how to birth their babies.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this film not only those trying to conceive or expecting, but the general public whom need to know about the highly important issues we face in regards to women’s rights in birth.  


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