At the moment there are numerous tv programs, both reality and fictional, that are showing midwifery or birth stories. Many of them irritate me for their inability to get things right.
For example last week in Casualty, which I have watched since I was a teenager, one of the characters was supporting her husband in hospital when she felt a pain in her stomach and worried that there was something wrong with her baby. The nurse laid her hand on the woman's stomach and reassured her "there is nothing wrong with the baby, you are in labour". I mean seriously....one contraction....yes that's how we diagnose labour these days. I can accept that there are some inaccuracies that don't matter to the public but surely most people know that labour is not diagnosed after one contraction. Then, because it's Casualty, they kept her in A and E rather than send her to maternity and they didn't even call for a midwife. It was ridiculous from the word go and it didn't get any better. When the fetal heart was at 90bpm, they merely called for the A and E consultant to deliver her and then called for a Special Care Anaesthetist when the baby needed resus. Pfft.. A small bit of research and this could have been handled so much better.
So then let me move onto Neighbours....now don't judge my choice of programs....I know it's rubbish but that's partly why I watch it! Like Casualty I have watched it for a long time and I'm not ready to stop yet. It's what I call my "no need to think about it" tv. Anyway they have had an ongoing storyline about two women who are pregnant, Sonia and Vanessa. Sonia has been planning a home birth, with the support of a doula. When her labour begins, her partner Toadie, panics constantly and tries to convince her to go to hospital constantly. When her waters break, she requires an urgent transfer to hospital and whilst it hasn't been aired yet, we know from the advert that following delivery Sonia is going to have some kind of collapse. When Vanessa goes into labour, she is declined the epidural at 8cms because it's too late to have one and then we see her being condescendingly praised whilst being encouraged to push her baby out a short while later. So now we know where the producers of Neighbours stand on the idea of home birth?
Why can these producers/directors or whoever is responsible, not just do some research into what is accurate and believable? It surely can't be that difficult. Anyone who has worked on a delivery suite knows how dramatic it can get. It already is a life and death situation and we don't need to make up details. There are also the beautiful labour and births that would make for wonderful viewing - we don't always need the drama! If all we ever see is things going wrong, then how can women believe it might just go right? Not every woman needs a hospital and doctors. Many many women could deliver their babies at home safely with the care of their midwife. Many women give birth in different positions to just lying on a bed. Many women never see a doctor throughout their pregnancy and labour. Most babies are born and require no resus at all.
Of course some women will need an obstetrician to lead their care and some women will require a hospital but it's not all women and this should be recognised in dramas and soaps. And it should not be seen to be unusual or weird but just one of the possible choices that women make.
I'd be happy to voice my opinion to any producer considering a birth story in their programme! Make it realistic.....that's all I ask!