In the Canadian province of British Columbia alone, more than 1,000 rural women must travel more than 100 kilometers to give birth each year. This causes stress and anxiety and, in some instances, adverse maternal and newborn outcomes. Women who have to travel more than 4 hours have more than a three times higher rate of perinatal mortality. “Where was I born, Mama?” Is a documentary short film produced by the Centre for Rural Health Research to shed light on the implications of the loss of local maternity services for rural women and their families.
The Centre for Rural Health Research is grounded in understanding the experiences of rural citizen patients, care providers and administrators in accessing health services. We believe these narratives are essential ‘data’ to include when making decisions about local services and that they point us towards further research that is of value to the community. We started our program of research with a CIHR-funded study in 2003, ‘The Maternity Care Experiences of Rural Women’, so it is wonderful – and important – to loop back to this fundamental narrative 15 years later. We hope that by capturing the experiences of the rural women and families who have been generous enough to participate on film we can continue to meet our commitment to providing a voice for rural citizen patients. We believe this voice is foundational to productive health service transformation.
Meet our videographer who directed our documentary Where Was I Born Mama? Tamara Wojciechowska!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I’m a filmmaker from Poland and I’m passionate about travelling. What I love about it is immersing myself in the diversity of cultures and hearing stories from diverse backgrounds! I’m excited to be working on this documentary as it gives a voice to women living in rural areas who are experiencing challenges in accessing services in their communities.
Where are the challenges with rural (maternal) health that you’ve witnessed in these communities?
While working on-site upon filming the documentary, I’ve witnessed many challenges the communities faced from limited access to maternity care for women across rural BC. I was moved by the vulnerability and comprehension of women as they shared in their experiences. We were met with fabulous generosity from people and their willingness to be open to tell their story and express the importance of accessing local care in their communities. It reinforced us that the work we are doing is meaningful.
What are the positive experiences or impacts you’ve had when making this film and visiting the communities?
It all came from the collection of powerful stories from people. I was personally shocked by the systematic refuse of services that could be provided in the local community. Certain decisions separate families for weeks and place a great weight of responsibility on a women’s shoulders adding unnecessary stress.