About Doula! Film

DOULA! The Ultimate Birth Companion launched worldwide on June 7th 2010 with a London cinema premiere.

The film is now available on DVD (both PAL and NTSC versions).

DOULA! is a 60 minute new documentary film that shows in close-up detail the amazing work of birth and postnatal (postpartum) doulas. To view some DOULA! video clips / trailers, CLICK HERE.

If you are a doula, the film could be a great educational RESOURCE as well as the perfect marketing tool to promote yourself as a doula! And if you wanted to use the film to promote yourself, what better way than to host your own screening!

The 50 min Birth Doula documentary film features three births (two home water births and video diary footage of a home birth that turns into a hospital c-section).

Then there is a separate 10 minute Postnatal (Postpartum) Doula section showing two doulas supporting couples in the first few weeks after they become new parents.

The film was Directed /  Filmed / Edited by me – Toni Harman – and produced by our independent UK production company Alto Films, run by myself and my partner Alex Wakeford. We paid for the film ourselves with no outside funding – so it’s a very personal film and we feel very proud of the end result. Below are some questions about the film that I am most often asked.


Doula! filmmaker Toni Harman

What is “Doula! The Ultimate Birth Companion”?

“Doula! The Ultimate Birth Companion” is a 60 minute documentary following three doulas as they support parents before, during and after giving birth.

This Doula! DVD is aimed at anyone interested in seeing what a doula actually does! It is a highly emotional personal film that tells the stories of different doula-supported births and so is suitable for expectant parents and also as an educational resource for birth educators.

The 50 min Birth Doula documentary film features three births (two home water births and video diary footage of a home birth that turns into a hospital c-section). Then there is a separate 10 minute Postnatal Doula section showing two doulas supporting couples in the first few weeks after they become new parents.

I think the births are really beautiful and very emotional. There’s little in the way of blood or mess despite the fact that you do see everything, so it presents a very positive inspiring image of childbirth. Even though I have seen the births many times during the editing process, I still well up every time. For watching a woman bring new life into the world is something extraordinarily special.


Why did you decide to make “Doula! The Ultimate Birth Companion”?

Three years ago I had quite a difficult birth experience when I had my daughter. I felt I was on a conveyor belt of medical interventions over which I had no control as I was induced four times and then had a c-section. At that time, I had no idea doulas even existed. It was only at the launch of my last birth series REAL BIRTH STORIES that I met a couple of doulas and something clicked. I completely understood the need to have someone independent supporting you at your birth. I started to think what would have happened at my own birth if I had hired a doula? And that’s why I made this doula film. It was a personal quest to see if doulas really can help a woman have the birth she wants and, as you’ll see from the film, the answer is a resounding YES!



You produced, directed, filmed and edited the film yourself. Why?

I never set out to do everything myself, it just happened! My partner is a cameraman and the plan was that he was going to do the filming. However, we got a call late one night to say that one of the mums had gone into labour. It was too short notice to find a babysitter so it was literally the case of me grabbing the video camera and dashing off on my own to film the birth. It was my first ever birth and it was a truly breath-taking experience. After that night, I knew that actually this was going to be a very personal film and I wanted to do everything myself. I have to say, I am really proud of the end result!


What is your film-making background?


I graduated as a producer / director from the London Film School a few years ago and have been making films ever since. There’s two sides to my film-making career. On the one side, I have made a string of short films and recently I directed my first feature film, a psychological thriller called CREDO which was released by Lionsgate in the US. Meanwhile, I have produced and directed documentaries and factual entertainment programmes including REAL BIRTH STORIES, a 3 DVD boxed set where five couples tell their “warts and all” birth stories. CLICK HERE to view  Real Birth Stories on Amazon.



How did you persuade the parents to have their births filmed?


It was the doulas themselves that put forward their birth and postnatal clients as potential participants in the film. Everyone in the film strongly believes in the enormous benefit of having a doula and so they were motivated by the hope that this film helps bring doulas into the main stream.


Midwives do an amazing job, but there is definitely room for doulas to work alongside midwives to help provide much-needed practical and emotional support – every woman deserves a doula!


When and where did you shoot the film?


I shot the film in the English counties of East and West Sussex and Hampshire in October / November 2009.


Would you hire a doula yourself?


Absolutely. Without question. If / when I am lucky enough to become pregnant again, I would definitely hire a doula. I’ve been quite evangelical about doulas since I started making this film and have become a huge doula convert! I’ve told all my friends and even ranted to complete strangers! I think doulas do an amazing job and provide a much-needed valuable service. Every woman deserves a doula!


What have you learned making “Doula!”?


I feel incredibly privileged to have been allowed to film the most intimate moment of a woman’s life. It has changed my life. I have learned that giving birth is an amazing, powerful beautiful thing and I know it sounds obvious, but giving birth really is the most natural thing in the world! There is so much fear associated with childbirth and it has become so medicalised, that actually, when you have someone like a doula help a woman give birth naturally, suddenly you see that’s how it should always be done.


What’s next?


My next film project is a worldwide documentary about the problems with birth today that we are aiming to shooti n the Spring of 2011.  The film will be look at the rise of the caesarean and the problems this brings, but will also offer solutions on how to make birth better and safer. I’m on a bit of a mission now to help reduce the fear associated with giving birth as I believe the more you know, the less you fear. And I want to show birth is something to love not fear!!