This week I had a conversation with a TV Producer who is looking for some pregnant mums for a TV documentary about childbirth. We were talking because as part of her documentary, she was looking to hear from mums who were happy to share their positive birth story. I was more than happy to help!
During the conversation it transpired that her production company had pitched a whole series to Channel 4 but so far Channel 4 were only taking one episode. This really surprised me because, here in the UK, Channel 4 have got quite a good reputation when it comes to putting out interesting, well thought-out documentaries. Not only that, but they are the home to one of the most talked about series when it comes to childbirth, One Born Every Minute.
What’s wrong with One Born Every Minute?
As with all good TV shows, One Born Every Minute relies on drama and emotion.. that’s what makes it a success as a piece of TV entertainment. The problem with that is they will naturally pick the births that are dramatic and emotional. The problem is that is just one small view of childbirth. Childbirth is best for mum and baby when it’s withouth drama and in a calm envrionment.. So the births we’re seeing on this show are not representative of CHILDBIRTH.
Now this would be OK, if it weren’t for this tragic fact: most women of childbearing age are watching this show and it’s probably the closest thing they get to having some sort of childbirth education. So, this TV show is unwittingly filling a much needed hole, BADLY.
As a TV show, it’s great. As a form of childbirth education it sucks! Why? because of this one simple thing: it’s creating fear among women when it comes to childbirth. My problem with fear, is that it’s directly responsible for crappy childbirth experiences that are bad for mum and bad for baby. And if something is bad for mum AND baby during birth, then it’s bad for society… the impact of difficult and traumatic birth experiences include a higher likelihood of the occurence of post natal depression in women as well as an increased likelihood of mental and emotional health challenges in the children. This is something that we could really do much less of in the world right now.
Milli Hill, the founder of the Positive Birth Movement, wrote a great piece on this recently Why One Born Every Minute is making birth worse for women. Just check out the tweets she picked out of women who watch and how it affects their mindset when it comes to childbirth.
Now, what I’m not saying is that Channel 4 should stop airing such shows, but I do think that they need to accept responsibility for the role they’re playing in childbirth education. They might not have chosen this role, but they’ve filled the shoes, and their actions have consequences. So as part of their role as a responsible broadcaster, they need to adopt a more balanced approach to their programming and for me this means balancing out the negative aspects of birth, with the positive.
So, how do we ask them to do that?
We could ask them nicely, which probably won’t work…. things like that never do! They are a business after all and will want to sell advertising in the ad break.. so they need to know that there is a demand for programming that presents a more balanced perspective on childbirth. And that’s where I need your help
I started a petition and I’d love you to sign it and share it;
Sign and share the petition here
Thank you for your support.
What else could we be doing to get them to take notice? Do you know someone at Channel 4 who we could talk to? Do you have an idea for childbirth documentary that you think needs some airtime? Let me know in the comments!