Written with Dr Tracey Cooper this chapter in the recently published book 'Understanding Anxiety, Worry and Fear in Childbearing: A Resource for Midwives and Clinicians' Edited by Kathryn Gutteridge, published by Springer Nature Switzerland. ISBN: 9783030210625 explores the way birth is depicted in the media.
Here's a section from the Introduction:
In August 2017, a storm of media ‘stories’ raged about birth in the UK. Had the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) dropped the use of the term ‘normal birth’ despite the fact that normal birth is universally used to define a midwife’s scope of practice?. Were midwives peddling a ‘cult of normal birth’ to the detriment of women and baby’s safety? Even though the debate about ‘normal birth’ has died down, it remains on the ‘endangered list’ and the contested subject of birth remains a hot topic of media attention. Subsequently, how birth is depicted in the media continues to be a major concern and subject of research and study for midwives and those in the birth world.
We patently live in ‘an electronic age’, where unprecedented media representations of birth, ‘converge’ in a global digital environment. These include hugely popular television programmes such as ‘One Born Every Minute’ (OBEM), big budget Hollywood pregnancy romcom films like ‘The Back-up Plan’ and a proliferation of websites, mobile phone apps and social media platforms.
However, do the depictions we see correspond to our own experiences as women and midwives? When Laura was working as a student midwife a woman she was looking after, who had a BBA (born before arrival) or unplanned home birth, noted that she did not think herself in established labour. In birth programmes she watched the women were screaming so much, which was not matching her own experience, that she ended up having the baby unexpectedly at home, after which she commented “it wasn’t that bad!”…...