16 years of improvements?

ISSN 0256-5004 (Print)

AIMS Journal, 2010, Vol 22 No 1

Pat O'Brien takes a critical look at the portrayal of birth

I noted with interest the Channel 4 programme advertised 'One Born Every Minute' [first shown on February 9th 2010].

Knowing myself, I thought I should probably NOT watch it for fear of getting wound up about all the issues I care so much about surrounding childbirth. However, against my better judgement, I decided to watch the programme in its entirety in the hope that I would be pleasantly surprised by the advances made in midwifery over recent years. After all, it is now 16 years since I had my first baby. Things had bound to be a lot better - hadn't they?

I had been right in the first place - I definitely should not have watched this programme as now I am not only thoroughly depressed, but also seething with anger.

I witnessed:

  • A woman lying on her back to give birth, when she had already said she was most comfortable on all fours.
  • The same woman being threatened that they would have to call the doctor if she didn't push the baby out quickly.
  • A delivery room fraught and full of fear.
  • A woman made to change position to allow for fetal monitoring.
  • A midwife saying the baby's heart rate was dipping during contractions (as it does normally) but engendering fear in the mother that this was abnormal and telling her 'the baby has had enough now' as if to frighten the mother into pushing harder.
  • The same woman being told she needed to sit further forwards in order to push, adopting a position which closes down the birth canal and makes pushing LESS effective.
  • No one encouraging the mother to stand or get on all fours to harness the forces of gravity.
  • No constant companion by her side to help her through the pain and provide reassurance that all was perfectly fine.
  • A woman bullied by all those in the room including her husband and being instructed to push on request, and even to hold a sustained push for as long as possible (which is not good advice).
  • A woman who, having been told her baby would be 'pulled out of her by the doctors' if she didn't push hard enough, was then told not to panic.
  • A woman apologising throughout her labour for inconveniencing the midwife!
  • And, I suspect, a woman who will leave the hospital grateful for the fact she has a healthy baby and unquestioning of all the compromises she was forced to make to the 'normal birthing process' and the risks she and her baby ran BECAUSE of those compromises.

HAS NOTHING CHANGED IN 16 YEARS?

'One Born Every Minute' is filmed at The Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton, described as 'a specialist unit looking after women and newborn babies'. Almost 6,000 babies are born each year under the hospital's care, and over 300 staff coordinate the care as women choose to give birth at home, at the hospital or at the nearby stand alone birth centre.

Channel 4 says that 'One Born Every Minute' aims to observe the dramatic, emotional and often funny moments that go hand in hand with bringing a new life into the world, from the perspective of the soon-to be parents and family, as well as the hospital staff.

'One Born Every Minute' celebrates what it really feels like to become a parent, by taking a bustling maternity hospital and filling it with forty cameras. Did that make a difference to care? If you have a comment, please do let us know.

Latest Content

Journal

« »

Book Review: Mothership by Francesc…

AIMS Journal, 2019, Vol 31, No 4 Reviewed for AIMS by Jo Dagustun Mothership By Francesca Segal Chatto and Windus, 2019 288 pages £14.99 ISBN 978-1-78474-269-0 Find this…

Read more

Book Review: Eleven Hours by Pamela…

AIMS Journal, 2019, Vol 31, No 4 Reviewed for AIMS by Emma Mason Eleven Hours By Pamela Erens Published by Tin House Books 2016 ISBN 978-1941040294 176 pages Publisher's…

Read more

Book Review: The Breast Book by Emm…

AIMS Journal, 2019, Vol 31, No 4 Reviewed for AIMS by Clara Hubbard, age 12 The Breast Book: A puberty guide with a difference - it's the when, why and how of breasts By…

Read more

Events

« »

NICE Annual Conference 2020

Registration for the NICE Annual Conference 2020 will open on 22 January 2020. For more details and to register your interest, please visit http://www.niceconference.org.…

Read more

IMUK National Conference 2020

The theme of IMUK's 2020 National Conference 2020 is The Science Behind The Art of Midwifery. Speakers to be announced and tickets will be released soon. Information is a…

Read more

Midwifery Today Conference: “Birthi…

21-25 October 2020 The theme for this year's Midwifery Today conference is Birthing in Love: Everyone’s Right. Classes will include: Clinical sessions such as Hemorrhage,…

Read more

Latest Campaigns

« »

RCOG Consultation on leaflets in As…

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) recently launched a public consultation on two draft documents they have produced. Both documents were in the…

Read more

AIMS' Response to Hull Daily Mail a…

AIMS has responded to the Hull Daily Mail's article entitled, " https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/health/baby-born-bus-stop-shoelace-3571474 ". 26 November 2019 Dear E…

Read more

AIMS Response to NMC Consultation o…

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) plays a key role in the ongoing quality assurance and regulation of the maternity services and its staff. Effective and efficient…

Read more