Image Source: Offspring on Ten Facebook
Anyone who knows me well will know that Offspring is my favourite TV show. I have watched it right from Season 1, and I may or may not be known to have watched a season or two when I am sick or on holidays! While I spend 90% of my time watching the show with my midwife brain turned off, occasionally I just can’t help it and comments like ‘Oh finally a woman labouring NOT in the bed!’ or ‘So Nina just delivered a baby without an umbilical cord?!’ manage to slip out. Usually accompanied with an eye roll.
I think what frustrates me the most is that this show could have a huge impact on the way that we as a society see birth. SO many Aussie women and their partners watch this show. It is highly emotional. We get drawn into the story and characters, which makes the stressful scenes even more intense. Case in point: the death of Patrick Reid which resulted in Network Ten receiving huge flack online for the stress that they had caused viewers (if you think I am kidding check out the comments here). Why can we not show some positivity around birth, and less of the ‘emergency waiting to happen’ mentality? This show is a prime opportunity to empower women to achieve a positive birth where they feel supported, calm and respected - and to walk away with a healthy baby and body too! It's not an either or situation. Every woman deserves this.
Recent research suggests that the way birth is portrayed on television impacts decisions made by women regarding their birth - including their expectations of the birth process (dangerous vs calm), and best place of birth (hospital vs birth centre vs home). This is huge! The beliefs that we take on about pregnancy and birth from the media, friends and family, and even throughout history can absolutely impact our births negatively. Trust me, I spend lots of time working through these beliefs with couples in my Hypnobirthing classes. If you have only ever seen labour and birth portrayed in a particular way, why would you believe that there is anything different in store for you?
Photo credit: Arctic Moon Photography ( Natasha Gilmartin)
Now don’t get me wrong, I know at the end of the day that this is an entertainment program, and I respect that. I really do. I just wish we could change the way that some births are shown on the show for the benefit of the thousands of women watching when/if they are preparing for their own birth experience. We know that the media has a huge impact on how we see birth, and if shows like this are constantly depicting birth as risky, painful and an 'emergency waiting to happen' then we are going to have women and partners thinking that their birth will be like this too, when it doesn’t have to be the case.
So Offspring producers - I would love to see some mamas birthing in positions other than flat on their back. Maybe on all fours leaning over the bed? Or even a water birth? Perhaps showing birth partners physically and emotionally supporting the labouring woman and working as a team, instead of looking panicked and unsure of what is happening. Maybe even a hypnobirthing couple ;) Please, at the very least just show one mama experiencing a physiological birth, so that all women across Australia know that this IS possible!
What do you think? Did you watch shows like Offspring during your pregnancy? How do you feel that birth is portrayed in these shows?
If you would like to learn how to 'turn down the volume' on those not-so-positive thoughts that you may have about your upcoming labour and birth check out my upcoming Hypnobirthing Australia™ course dates here.