The Future of Childbirth- An Interview with Filmmaker Karin Ecker

The Future of Childbirth- An Interview with Filmmaker Karin Ecker

On 13.08.2015 Australian-Austrian filmmaker, Karin Ecker will be personally presenting her films, “A Breech in the System” and “One Birth at a Time” at Berlin cinema Babylon. Karin is known worldwide for her work on the subject of empowerment regarding birth.

In an amazing film portrait, „A Breech in the System“ (2010), Karin describes her own birthing journey and demonstrates, among other things, the importance of a trusted support network concerning questions about pregnancy, birth and the time afterwards.

Now she has begun a series of films highlighting the different possibilities for birth and a balanced account of the pros and cons and risks of these. The importance of midwives and support during the time following the birth is also emphasised. The films are being used nationwide in Australia as part of antenatal education and will be adapted and localised for further countries.

We managed to catch up with Karin for an interview and it’s our great pleasure to be able to share this with you:


Mit freundlicher Genehmigung von Karin Ecker

Karin, your first birth-focused documentary, “A Breech in the System” followed your personal quest for a vaginal birth, despite breech presentation at 38 weeks of pregnancy. What in particular prompted you to carry on in a similar direction to create “One Birth at a Time”?

Much like yourselves, I have a desire to help women to become more empowered and find out about the different options available to them for their births. The idea came from a friend of mine, who was a midwife for 25 years and in charge of antenatal education in Sydney. She asked me if I would make a film showing a normal hospital birth, which I felt was a strange request – weren’t there already lots of films documenting ‘normal’ births that were not induced and with no interventions? The answer is unfortunately, “No”. In fact, only 10% of hospital births in Australia are what you might consider ‘normal’. That was really shocking for me.

I then met a lady who wanted me to film her birth because she liked my own birth film and I asked if I could show this to the public as an educational tool. This being her third birth, she luckily said yes and was really excited about being a role model and sharing her confidence with other women.

On the subject of filming her birth:

I filmed my child’s birth because I wanted him to know how he was born. As much as this is very confronting, I think it’s an incredible thing to see yourself born, to see your mother like that.

Birth has become far too taboo in today’s society. With my film, I’m trying to highlight that the medical profession needs to honour and respect women for this amazing feat! Birth shouldn’t be a medically managed process and my film helps to show that it doesn’t need to be. Yes. it’s intimate but every birth is intimate, whether captured on film or not.

What were the challenges you faced when making this film?

My main challenge was financing. I self-financed the film because I was passionate about it. I had this vision that I would give the film away as an educational tool, with the help of a sponsor. However, the nature of the film meant that there were so many politics surrounding sponsorship. There seemed to be fear of showing support for a birth film, as if it could be held against the institutions I approached. I did receive WELEDA AUSTRALIA as a sponsor, which I am very grateful about, as I love the product and it also stands for making an empowered decision in choosing a wonderful product for mother and baby.

In the end, I couldn’t give away the film for free but despite this, I still got a lot of support and the film has become widely used as the educational tool it was created to be.

What, if anything would you do differently and why?

I would have more confidence in the fact that I could do it and would waste less time trying to find sponsors. Writing proposals took up lots of energy and it ended up that big companies were too conservative to support the film.

What are your plans for the future? In which direction do you see your work going?

I’ve already started something in Australia: Retreats for pregnant women, focusing on empowerment and education. I hope to expand these to different countries, helping women across the world to take charge of their births.

I also plan to dub the film into different lanuages and conduct localised interviews with obstetricians. My goal is to empower women and birth professionals, bringing them together and helping them to understand each other. I think it’s important to encourage a more trusting relationship because each side is fearful for their own reasons, thus making birth more medicalised and institutionalised. A change is necessary and I think the timing is right.

On the subject of fear and change, I’m sure you’re aware of the situation that midwives in Germany are facing due to an increase in insurance premiums and lack of options as far as insurance coverage goes: Are you optimistic about the future of birthing in Germany?

It’s scary. I always viewed Europe as more social in comparison with Australia. What’s happening is definitely not right. I just hope the more the oppression happens, the more people will rise up and say, “No!”. We need to have hope that things will get better. I hope that families are becoming empowered in making informed decisions for their birth and the care afterwards. Having the right support is crucial. Having had the support I had for my birth scenario made all the difference and I believe this was most important for my success.

Maternita is a Maternity Concierge and Baby Planner service that strived to empower pregnant women, fathers-to-be and new families by providing information in a neutral and easy-to-understand way. Do you see this type of service as a growing area in a society where support from family and friends might be limited due to an increase in mobility and the concept of a ‘global village’? 

Yes, it’s so necessary because a lot of women feel disempowered during pregnancy and birth. So many people look back in retrospect and say they wish they’d known about certain things (like services) when they were pregnant so good information is vital. This is why the services of the likes of maternita and Ellie V’ant Grey, the initiator of the event at Kino Babylon so important.

I’m currently working on new new film called “Birth Matters” about birth in different countries. I hope that when women see the standard, for example in Northern European countries, they will sit up and say “I want that” and use their lobby to raise standards in their own countries.

Finally, what message would you like to give to our readers here in Germany/Berlin?

Come to the screening on 13th August!


Screening Zuerich

Mit freundlicher Genehmigung von Karin Ecker: Filmvorführung und Podiumsdiksussion in Zürich

AvailEllie_Logo-test-center3-250x238able now! Tickets for the movie screening with Karin Ecker in Berlin! is supporting the event and you pay what you want-to help gather a diverse audience and induce a lively discussion.

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With friendly support of maternita.

picture source: fotolia © poligonchik



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