As a mother who has had two amazing, empowering waterbirths, I am very concerned by this latest news. Waterbirth International, Barbara Harper’s organization that made it all happen for me, is in trouble. I will just post her letter below for you to read. Please, I urge you to do whatever you can to help this fabulous organization stay afloat.
The Gentle Birth World Congress (GBWC) was an amazing gathering of midwives, nurses, doulas, childbirth educators, interested parents and doctors. ACOG even co-sponsored the event! Professionals and parents came from all around the world. Over 4000 visitors walked through our exhibit hall, viewed the Birth Art Photography displays, and attended free public lectures and the Mother/Baby Film Festival. We arranged for Ricki Lake herself to show the film, The Business of Being Born. It was a fabulous life-changing conference. Many miracles happened there. Some attendees have written about their experiences. An email I received just last week from Dr. Maria Elvisa Casals in the Philippines stated: “Many things shared in the Congress articulated what I already ‘knew’ was right for my patients but was contrary to my conventional training.”
Waterbirth in the Media
There is much good news about all the accomplishments, media coverage and positive press that waterbirth in general has been having. At this moment we are on the eve of the theatrical release of Ricki Lake’s film, The Business of Being Born, reviewed today in the New York Times, and the completion of Debra Pascali Bonero’s groundbreaking movie, Orgasmic Birth. Just last week, ABC’s “Good Morning America” featured a segment on unassisted birth at home in water. So waterbirth is currently getting extensive exposure.
Code Blue: “We Have A Critical Situation Here”
This is all happening at the same time that Waterbirth International (WBI), our not-for-profit organization, is in a very critical situation. Unanticipated costs and challenges in producing the Gentle Birth World Congress have resulted in a debt of $200,000. We are now facing the prospect of closing our doors and, thus, ending our educational and charitable work in the world. Those who know me personally recognize that only dire circumstances could bring this about. I have already mortgaged my house and maxed out both the business and personal credit cards in an attempt to cover a small part of this debt.
Our Plea Circles the Globe
There are times in our lives when we stop and wonder: What does it all mean; why do things happen the way they do? Perhaps it is a good thing that Waterbirth International is in such a precarious financial position, because it is forcing us to reach out to the broader community.
A letter I wrote on January 8th, asking for help, went to one person who posted it online, and it is now circulating on the Internet through grass-roots organizations, midwifery and doula groups. The show of support in response to this letter has been wonderful and generous. It made me feel down to the depths of my soul how appreciated and loved I am and how much everyone wants Waterbirth International to continue. I am so very grateful for this confirmation of our importance to the community. However, I can’t do this alone. I don’t want to do this alone. I am humbled to have been leading the way for waterbirth for the past 24 years.
It is obvious now that many people want to join with us and take on the responsibility of co-creating a way for WBI to survive and to prosper in the years to come, so we can witness waterbirth becoming an everyday event in the lives of birthing families.
How You Can Help
I am now entrusting the destiny of Waterbirth International to all of you. We need to raise at least $200,000 in immediate funding and also to create a plan for sustainability and growth. We have created a donation page on our website, and we welcome any level of financial support. Here are some ideas:
- Include us in your prayers
- Talk to people about waterbirth
- Buy a birth pool for yourself
- Buy a birth pool and donate it to your local midwife
- Send people to our website – link it on your website or blog
- Leap Year Special ‘til 2/29 – buy one DVD and get one ½ price (selected titles) – Donate your 2nd copy to your local library or hospital
- Show Birth Into Being or Gentle Birth Choices locally, charge a small fee, and send us a contribution
- Hold a fundraiser and donate the proceeds
- Make a donation of any amount
- Become a Contributing member ($35)
- Become a Professional Member ($100)
- Become a “Life Time” Member ($1000)
- Ask grandparents to make a charitable contribution in their grandchild’s name
- If you are a midwife make sure your clients know to register their babies on the “I Was Born in Water” list on the website
- Put up a donation jar in your office
- Guide us to people with financial means
We are creating a special page on the website where we will be listing all members and contributors. And volunteers have already come forward to create a quarterly online PDF newsletter, starting next month. The letters of support keep coming in. I know that no matter what happens, I’ll continue to do the work that God called me to do – to make birth easier and more fulfilling for mothers, fathers and babies. I am trusting that the birth community will join with me to save Waterbirth International.
What part will you play in fulfilling this mission?
For our many supporters and for having had the opportunity to serve thousands of women and their families, I am deeply grateful. I will be holding the vision of working together with you for the next 20 years.
Barbara Harper, Director Waterbirth International