Whose birth fantasy is this anyway?

I was watching Dollhouse earlier tonight, and there was an odd throwaway scene at the beginning of the episode. There was a couple, with the woman in labour, and instead of being in a hospital with doctors and medical equipment and so on, they were in a cosy log cabin, with snow falling at the windows, and just the one female attendant.

Despite this, the woman was still lying on her back in a bed, screaming, and there was a heart beat monitor.

Really? Is this the best people could do with imagining a non hospital birth? Precisely who is coming up with this stuff?

I’ve had one hospital birth (yes, lying on my back in a bed, but mainly because the birth caught the midwives by surprise (ignoring the woman will do that) and I didn’t have the energy to go anywhere else at that point). I don’t remember any screaming, certainly not at the end point. There may have been yelling, that’s a bit different though.

And the three home births? No screaming. Some whinging (there’s always a point when I think better of this whole childbirth idea, and it’s just about 9 months too late), moaning, and so on, but no lying on my back either. For two I’ve chosen to lie on my left hand side at the moment of truth, and for the fourth I was kind of on all fours. My homebirth midwives have been very encouraging of movement throughout, and I could be wrong, but I don’t think they’ve have gone for the on the back thing.

So who is coming up with this, and why? Are there no knowledgeable women doing any kind of work on these shows, and if not, why not?

The problem, from my point of view, is every single lying on the back screaming birth makes that look like the way it has to be. And it isn’t. If you are more mobile, more upright, more in control, it’s less painful, and quite frankly, less scary. (In my experience, and in all the research I’ve done, and let’s face it, I’ve done obsessive amounts of research.) Less scary has got to be good. So why is fiction perpetuating this idea? And what can we do to change it?

And what else is fiction putting across to us that just isn’t even slightly true?

About Jax Blunt

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