Nearly everyone is hoping for a positive birth. However, many think of think birth is:
“The doctor delivering my baby saved his life. If we were not hooked up to every machine with all the medication, it would have been bad!”
And yes, sometimes that latter is true. However, this is typically the exception and not the rule. Often, birth in the movies is just like everything else in the movies – dramatized!
As a pregnant person, you are likely drawn to pregnancy and birth focused media. You are excited and want to absorb all things pregnancy and birth. However, in the process, you have become fearful.
The good news? Your birth does not have to be TV dramatic. You can have a positive and empowering birth regardless of how your birth unfolds. Should things head towards dramatic, the right provider and good support can help you still have a positive experience.
Here are X ways to prepare for a positive birth experience and not a TV dramatic one:
#1– You Can Choose Your Midwife or OB/GYN
Your care provider choice will have a big impact on your birth experience. If you do not like the type of birth you see on TV, find a care provider whose birth philosophies match yours. Often, we are shown old school, dramatic, and “in charge” type OB/GYNs on tv. It is common to think this is what we should all except for maternity care.
If you are hoping for an unmedicated birth, or a low intervention birth, find a provider who is experienced in attending physiological normal births. This is likely to be a midwife or an OB/GYN practice with midwives on staff.
If you are higher risk and require the care of an OB/GYN, you can still search for a provider with similar birth philosophies as yours. One who is open to starting with the least amount of intervention possible, adding in only as needed. If you need or desire medical intervention, choose a provider who is big on communication, autonomy, and true informed consent.
#2– You Do Not Need Bright Lights and Large Crowds
Whether fictional movies or ‘reality’ TV shows, there will no doubt be bright lights and a whole crew. For most people, this would inhibit a truly positive birthing experience. While birth can be a social event, the distractions can impact hormones.
There are several hormones that impact birth. Some of those hormones are oxytocin, adrenaline, melatonin, and endorphins. The hormone oxytocin is responsible for beginning and maintaining labor. Melatonin aids in the release of oxytocin, and endorphins are released in response to oxytocin. Aside from right before baby is born, releasing adrenaline can interfere with labor.
When you feel safe, comfortable, and loved your body will continue to release oxytocin. You will also release endorphins – nature’s pain relief – to help you cope with contractions. Melatonin is released in. quiet and dim environments and helps your body to continue releasing oxytocin.
#3 – You Can Choose Which People Will Be Present For Birth
Birth is not a spectator sport. It might be an exciting event, but the birther’s desires are more important than anyone else’s desire to witness it.
People who opt to be on a reality TV show will have extra people in the room. They are also likely to be extroverts if they are signing up for such a show. They are less likely to be bothered by the extra group. When you give birth, you will have the option to decide who is present.
Birth is a vulnerable time, and a time with many hormonal components. If someone feels uncomfortable, watched, or insecure, they might release adrenaline causing labor to stall.
Birth is a very primal experience. Even if they are close to those present, in the moment of birth, they might not feel safe having people around.
There are people who feel supported by having people present during birth. There is not a right or wrong. However, the difference between your birth and that of someone on TV, is you can more easily ask people to leave. If your birth is not going as expected, you do not feel comfortable, or you just desire privacy, you can make people go. Those contracted for TV, may not feel they have that option.
In terms of movies and not reality tv, well, we need to simply remember it is all scripted and not a real birth.
#4: No One Is Present Seeking Drama – Plan Your Positive Birth
When it comes to reality birth shows, there are producers involved. While they will not be able to interfere medically, it is likely some are acting differently than if there were no cameras.
A simple fetal hart decel – a normal occurrence during active labor – can be an opportunity to highlight and create a dramatic moment that otherwise would not draw attention.
Drama and excitement make for good TV, but they do not make for a good birth experience.
It is also important to remember that these births have been edited, and narration and music are added for excitement. It is possible that an event was not scary or dramatic for the people in the moment but as the viewer you’re presented a scary picture.
As for the fictional movie births, they are written specifically to create a dramatic engagement.
#5: Every Birth Is Unique – Expect a Positive Birth
No two births are identical. Every single birth, every single baby and every single birther have a unique birth experience. Even if every TV show you watch, and half of your friends experience a traumatic birth, it is no indication that your birth will be scary.
You can choose a care provider that you are comfortable with, educate yourself about benefit and risks of different procedures, and choose a birthing environment that you feel safest in.
Reality TV might be dramatic, but your birth does not need to be. Movies are, obviously, dramatic. If you can watch these shows without becoming intimidated by birth, it is okay to watch for fun.
However, if you are finding that you are fearing your upcoming birth it might be a good idea to forgo the drama and seek out positive birth experiences. Build your confidence in this normal body process and skip the fear mongering “reality” TV.