I often advise my HypnoBirthing parents to refrain from watching Channel 4’s One Born Every Minute until after their birth experience. HypnoBirthing helps parents to have easier, calmer births. I suspect viewing the types of birth that make great television drama may not help in building their confidence in the great birth they are going to experience. However, I also suspect that quite a few of the mums ignore my advice and I watch it myself in case I need to address a point raised in a future class. Last night’s episode really struck me so I am going to raise my head above the parapet and comment on it. In doing so I also include a disclaimer here that of course the programme is heavily edited so assumptions made may be wholly inaccurate.
We saw 2 births. One was the birth of Baby Freya. Her parents, Donna and Shaun, were a supportive couple. Donna went into hospital with a relaxed frame of mind and Shaun was on hand to say and do the right thing. Added to this, their midwives were fantastic. I’m afraid I cried like the proverbial baby when they showed her birth. I’ve included a clip here:
Donna, Shaun and Freya – Channel 4’s One Born Every Minute
The second birth really struck me though and has been a ‘popular’ discussion point on various forms of social media. Kurt (aged 20) and Beth (aged 18) had a baby boy. Their experience was less positive and made uncomfortable viewing. Beth was doing really well and Kurt was being reasonably supportive. The portrayal saw her reach full dilation fairly quickly and without too much discomfort but then it seemed that her body needed a rest. Instead it seemed that a lot of pushing took place that required a high level of coaching and breath-holding. Now I have to admit I was in the process of taking down my Christmas tree so I may have missed something but I didn’t understand why Beth couldn’t just take a rest and there didn’t seem to be enough explanation as to why forceps were required at that point. Most forceps delivery take place in theatre and it seemed that Beth could only take one person in to theatre; she chose her mum. At this point the story is shown from two perspectives:
Channel 4’s One Born Every Minute
Beth’s son was delivered, slightly blue and not breathing. The cord was immediately clamped, he was taken to the resuscitation table and it took 3 minutes for him to breath. Beth meanwhile did not see her son and didn’t seem to be kept informed. She was however told that her larger than average baby was ‘a monster’. I didn’t understand why the umbilical cord, that was providing the baby with oxygen, was so hastily clamped, neither did I understand why Beth and her now breathing baby, could not enjoy some skin-to-skin time before he was taken away for observation.
I felt most uncomfortable about the treatment and portrayal of Kurt. Only one additional person was allowed in theatre and Beth chose her mum. Kurt immediately indicated that he really didn’t mind but it was clear that he was upset. Bethany was wheeled out of the room, leaving Kurt frightened and excluded from the birth of his child. His initial external reaction was one of indifference which soon became anger and some aggression. He was portrayed as a bit of a meat head and that is why I found it such uncomfortable viewing. He wasn’t kept informed of what was happening, he had no idea his son had been born or that Beth and their child were not together. However it was a joy to see how calm and tender he was when he finally saw his baby; he really had just wanted to be a part of his son’s birth.
The portrayal of Kurt’s reaction to being excluded was unnecessarily sensationalist and voyeuristic for me.
I have been considering how this might come up in a future HypnoBirthing class. I will reassure the parents that the skills they learn are going to help them to manage their births better. The mums will know when they are ready for the baby to be born and when that time comes they will breathe their baby down, perhaps resting if necessary, rather than being coached when and how to push. More importantly, the dads are going to fully understand their role in the process. They will know how they can help their partner, how to ask questions so that they know what is going on, how to accept what is going on if events take an unexpected turn and how to be the man who ensures that all three of them enjoy beautiful bonding time.
Birth is an amazing experience. I know it would make poor television to show an easy calm birth but perhaps the television participants should be given a little more consideration too.
I’d really like to hear what you felt of the births shown. What thought did it raise for you?