Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tatum's Eleventh Week and TLC's Biased Baby Story

Tatum is eleven weeks old!

This is the face she makes when she wants to sit up. You can almost hear her making the noise that Scrat the squirrel makes in Ice Age when he's reaching for the acorn...

I had to snap a couple of pics while I was setting up the fabric, because Roy and Tatum were both sitting up and watching me...

And we got her a Bumbo seat last week to help her sit up since she was NOT happy being either on her back or tummy or in the bouncer all the time.  She wants to be UP and see what is going on!  That can get a little hard on the arms, so this lovely device was welcomed in our house!

On to another subject:

Since moving to Oklahoma and temporarily living with my parents, I've had the luxury of being able to record and watch my favorite reality show--"What Not To Wear" on DVR.  Somehow I've managed to live the past year and a half without it, and just love the snarky comments by the hosts!

After the show, "A Baby Story" comes on so I usually see the previews and first few minutes of the show.  After two and a half weeks of watching this, I have to say how frustrated I am with such a narrow view of birth being presented.  

Y'all know how I gave birth to Tatum, and my thoughts on natural birth and birthing centers.  I'll say again that those are my choices, and they may not be the best choice for you.  I have nothing against hospital births, epidurals or C-sections as long as the mother making the decisions is adequately informed.  
And "A Baby Story" is far from giving a balanced, informational portrayal of births.

Every day the preview goes something like this:

Little background of the mom and dad. Smiling.  Holding hands walking in a park.

Labor starts (dum dum duuummmm).

Mom screaming in pain in labor.

Will she get to the hospital in time?

More screaming from mom.

Will the doctor get there in time?

Shot of the worried dad.

The baby's heart rate dropped--can they get him out in time?

Crying shot of mom

Shot of some nurse running.

One parting scream with some creative camera zooming.

In two and a half weeks I've seen only one attempt at a natural birth, and she couldn't handle the pain and went with an epidural.  Every description of un-medicated labor is "torture," "my belly ripping apart," or "unbearable." All of them have been in the hospital.  About 80% of the women were given pitocin. Every single one I've seen had an epidural. And quite a few were given emergency C-sections.

Now let's say you're pregnant.  And, being into everything baby, you watch A Baby Story every day.  How do you think this would shape your view of labor and birth?  From just watching it I would say:

1. Labor must be too painful to manage on your own.

2. The hospital is your only option in where to give birth.

3.  Labor is scary stuff.

Not a very well-balanced view of labor.  We're not a society where women are present for other women's labors and birth. In other cultures, its mothers and other women and midwives who witness and support other women during birth.  You would grow up seeing your mother, sisters, aunts give birth.  Consequentially, when it came time for you to give birth, you would have real life examples for what to expect.  If you learn from this reality TV-show, your view of labor and birth would be quite biased because its just that--a TV show.

And good TV is drama.
And drama =  money.

I just checked the TV schedule and did a few quick searches.

In 70 episodes, there was 1 home birth.  2 water births, one was "rethought." 5 mentions of "couple wants a drug-free birth," but 4 of them "rethought" it.

Not exactly a ton of variety there.

The number one question I get when people hear I delivered a baby that was half an ounce shy of ten pounds without drugs is "Didn't it hurt???"

Well, yeah.  A lot.  Not gonna lie there. And yes, there were moments I was scared.

But you know what?  It was totally doable. I had my moments of weakness where my midwife looked me in the eyes and helped me pull it together, but overall it wasn't as scary as I thought it was going to be. And I'll do it again, Lord willing.  In fact, I'd rather go through labor than a week long migraine!

So come on, TLC, and show some more natural births.  More birth centers. More home births. More midwives.  More water births.  Because while medicated hospital births are the majority in this country, there are other options.


  1. My thought while reading this is that although I agree with you, possibly the problem is that the moms who think enough and decide they want a nice at home birth also don't want a filming crew around them. I wonder if the problem is not necessarily that TLC presents only one side of the Baby story, but possibly that it draws a certain kind of person to have their birth filmed, and that isn't the natural kind.

    The other thought is that The Baby story is a reality show, like so many others, and the biggest fault of all reality shows is that they always have to have things be so drama filled, maybe people are encouraged to have those "wow it was so painful" moments for the camera. We happened to be at a restaurant when a dating show was being filmed (not of us) and we overheard a nice normal conversation, but the crew felt it was too boring, stopped filming, told them to change to another topic of the directors choice, and then filmed that. So I wonder if the same thing happens on TLC shows, and they are told to make things more dramatic.

    Anyways, just my 2 cents. :-)

  2. You know, I never even considered the possibility that home birth-type-mamas would probably be less inclined to be filmed, and I'll bet you're absolutely right. And I definitely know they amp up the drama, I just wish they would add some beautiful, gentle births in there as well. Thanks for that perspective :-)