Director's Note

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.

What’s the fact that got me interested in making this documentary? Today, a record number of babies in Cyprus -more than half- are born via C-section. Experts and parents alike are alarmed by the trend. Cyprus ranks first in Europe in C-sections with a striking 56.9%. The World Health Organisation considers the ideal rate for Caesarean sections to be between 10-15%. This fact alone got me interested in researching the matter.

Often enough, women's rights at labour are violated. Right to privacy, respect to the body and the spontaneous initiation of labour, the option to request or refuse medical intervention and analgesia. These rights still have to be fought for.

In the course of production, this documentary went beyond examining the consequences of the medicalisation of birth. It became a study on the virtues of endurance, respect, trust and love.

'My body was made for this'. Birth Days brings forward a philosophy about the management of pain and the capability of the human body to endure that pain. 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.

During production days, I got to meet midwives from across Cyprus, and was fascinated by their patience, commitment and gentle practices. Amidst medical definitions, artificial painkillers, and fast-developing scientific disciplines, the presence of these mother figures seemed key to a positive experience of natural labour.

What is the importance of preparation, information and confidence building in the active management of labour by the woman? How can we, women, be better prepared for labour through knowledge, psychological and physical preparation, otherwise known as the ‘psychoprophylactic’ method? How important is the help offered to the pregnant woman by another woman - the midwife? Almost all births in modern societies have been transferred to medical environments. What can we do to bridge the gap, and achieve a ‘natural hospital birth’?

In this documentary I try to find answers to all of these complex questions as I believe that women have a fundamental right to informed choices at birth. My goal is to contribute in changing C-section mentality by advocating through the audiovisual medium.

In the age of radical progress in image representation and the social media, the dominant cultural views representing birth as a terrifying experience have been reinforced. I believe it is time to change this by creating new, more powerful visual messages, that would speak directly to the heart.

I welcome you in this exciting journey...

Danae Stylianou

Director - Producer