Long before I was pregnant, I loved watching A Baby Story on TLC. At the end of each episode, when the baby was finally born, I cried- every time.
Once I was pregnant, I watched with all new eyes. I knew more about the choices available to women and how those choices affected the birth experience for the mother and the baby. Almost every mother on the show opted for the epidural as soon as possible. I noticed the high number of C-sections, both planned and emergency. The one episode I watched with an attempted natural water birth was a mother whose husband wanted her to deliver without drugs- but she seemed very under-prepared and even admitted before the birth that she actually wanted drugs during labor. Not surprisingly, she abandoned the birth tub and got an epidural. By the time I was midway through my pregnancy, I had stopped watching A Baby Story. I believed birth could be a more joyful, positive experience than what was portrayed in each of those half-hour stories.
Instead, I surrounded myself with beautiful images of childbirth. I read and re-read the firsthand accounts of births attended by Ina May Gaskin in her book Spiritual Midwifery, all of which described birth as beautiful, sometimes "far-out" experiences. I also searched YouTube for home videos of water births and home births, and I was amazed by the results. By inundating myself with only beautiful, peaceful descriptions of birth, I managed to maintain my confidence and calm in those days before Tye was born. Those scary images of ten-inch-long epidural needles and C-section surgery rooms were the furthest thing from my mind, thankfully.
This year, A Baby Story has dedicated one week's worth of new shows to home births. Five shows isn't very many, but I hope that dedicated viewers will pause to think about the choices that these families made and realize that all women have a voice in how they bring their babies into the world. I hope these shows help bring midwifery and doulas closer to mainstream. I also hope that TLC shows positive portrayals of successful home births for all five new episodes. The first show today was a great start to the week, complete with a tearful ending. Find the schedule of this week's shows here.
Thanks, TLC, for finally showing births with fewer medical interventions and realizing that they make great TV, too.
By the way, when I was writing this, I came across Ina May Gaskin's new blog! What a great find! Perhaps worth a post of its own, but I just had to share it immediately.