We are Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford. We love to make films, write, create, speak and teach!
We are professional filmmakers (DOULA!, FREEDOM FOR BIRTH & MICROBIRTH), we are also book authors (THE MICROBIOME EFFECT & YOUR BABY'S MICROBIOME). We speak at international conferences and we are also course creators and the founders of MICROBIRTH SCHOOL.
Within this Microbirth School, you'll find evidence-based courses and webinars designed to explain the science explored in our award-winning film MICROBIRTH - this is the science of the infant microbiome. CLICK HERE to view all our courses.
Over the past 5 years, it's become our passion to explain the critical microscopic events happening during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.
We have interviewed about 30 world-leading professors about their research into the infant microbiome and our goal is to bring the science to you in a way that is easy-to-understand and easy-to-digest.
After all, the infant microbiome is a field of science that strongly supports vaginal birth (when possible), immediate skin-to-skin contact and exclusive breastfeeding. This enables the optimal training of the infant immune system to benefit a child's lifkelong health. If we can spread the word about the wonders of the infant microbiome, then we can change the health of the next generation.
Best way to contact us -drop us a message using the CONTACT FORM on our Microbirth website. Messages drop straight into our inbox and we'll do our best to contact you within 48 hours.
We are Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford. We met at the London International Film School over twenty years ago and we’ve been making films together ever since.
We started out making factual programmes, documentaries, adverts and short films. We then progressed to making our first feature film together (a psychological thriller called CREDO / which was released as THE DEVIL’s CURSE by Lionsgate in the US).
We thought we were on a path to Hollywood, but instead came our next production, the birth of our daughter Willow.
Our daughter’s birth sent us on a different filmmaking path. We started making films about childbirth under the banner of ONE WORLD BIRTH. We travelled thousands of miles around the world to talk to some of the most inspirational thinkers in the field of childbirth: Ina May Gaskin, Sheila Kitzinger, Michel Odent, Robbie Floyd-Davis, Debra Pascali-Bonaro to name but a few.
To date we must have filmed hundreds of midwives, doulas, obstetricians, perinatologists, neonatologists, psychologists, authors, scientists and human rights lawyers.
In 2010, we made DOULA! – a 60 minute documentary following three birth and postnatal doulas as they gave practical and emotional support to women and their families.
In 2012, we made FREEDOM FOR BIRTH – a 60 minute documentary telling the story of how a Hungarian mother, Anna Ternovszky, took her country to the European Court of Human Rightsto win the right to choose where and how to give birth. We were inspired to make the film by the injustice happening to Anna’s home birth midwife, Agnes Gereb, who had been imprisoned and at the time of filming was under house arrest and facing multiple criminal charges (and even today, Agnes is still facing multiple charges).
We launched FREEDOM FOR BIRTH on September 20th 2012 with over 1000 public screenings in 50 countries in 17 languages. The film helped establish Human Rights in Childbirth as a global movement.
In 2014, we released Microbirth, a film exploring the latest science about why vaginal birth and breastfeeding is so critical for a baby’s lifelong health. The film shows how common interventions during birth including antibiotics,C-sections, and formula feeding interfere with, or bypass completely, the crucial microbial transfer from mother to baby that seeds the microbiome and kickstarts the immune system. Babies born by C-section, for example, are at significantly higher risk of developing certain non-communicable diseases, including asthma, type-I diabetes, celiac disease, and obesity.
Microbirth is a multi-award winning documentary exploring the latest science about the ‘seeding and feeding’ of a baby’s microbiome during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. The film features scientists behind the ground-breaking research that reveals the critical role of mothers’ microbes for optimal training of the infant immune system and lifelong health.
Following the success of the film, we’ve produced a book aimed at parents and healthcare professionals:
A film can only paint in broad-brushstrokes; there’s simply not enough time to explore a complex scientific subject in great depth within the format of a 60 minute documentary. To provide a more nuanced and detailed argument, we needed to write a book.
Our book is an exploration of the latest science on why vaginal birth and exclusive breastfeeding is so critical for a baby’s lifelong health.
It draws on our extensive interviews with key scientists working at the front-line of microbiome and epigenetic research with the aim of presenting complex science in a way that is easy-to-understand and accessible to all.
The book is aimed at those who most urgently need the information provided; expectant parents and the healthcare professionals that support them. We wanted to outline the problems and offer practical steps parents can take to protect their baby.
The format uses easy-to-follow chapters including important questions any parent-to-be might have, as well as summaries and QR codes for video clips.
Most importantly, we wanted to offer parents an important tool for empowered decision-making—and a crucial new perspective on microscopic events that can impact a baby’s lifelong health.
What's the difference between the two editions of our book?
The Microbiome Effect is the UK edition published by Pinter & Martin, and Your Baby’s Microbiome is the North American edition published by Chelsea Green. There are a few minor editorial differences between the two editions.
Following the success of the films and the books, we've developed evidence-based Continuing Education courses for health professionals about the infant microbiome featuring world-leading professors. CLICK HERE to view the range of courses and webinars available