Things you won’t hear on #OBEM (“One Born Every Minute” – reality TV about a maternity ward on Channel 4)
Midwife: “Even with your epidural in place, please remember you are still in labour. Your body is working hard, and you need that wonderful oxytocin hormone to help it. So let’s turn off the lights, close your eyes and maybe hubby could get on the bed and give you a bit of a cuddle while I sit quietly over here in the corner.”
Midwife: “Doctor,can she start pushing?” Doctor: “It’s entirely up to the woman if she feels that’s what her body is telling her.”
I watched #OBEM last night for the first time in ages, and realised what my big problem with this programme really is: it’s the WASTE. The waste of a massive opportunity to educate the nation about how childbirth works, about optimal foetal positioning, about oxytocin.
Instead I see 2 women labouring under bright lights with an epidural, midwife encouraging them to chatter away, supine and adrenaline-fuelled, for HOURS.
When fully dilated they are – surprise surprise! – exhausted. One of them needs an assisted delivery.
And the doctor is extremely authoritarian. Call me naive, but it does bother me when an experienced midwife has to go down the corridor to ask a doctor if a woman can “start pushing”, and he says “yes”, without even looking up from his book. “Pushing” is regarded as something the woman needs permission for….rather than an urge coming from within her own body.
The wonderful opportunities this series misses! Here was a never-to-be-repeated chance to educate women about their own bodies and encourage them to regard themselves as capable and powerful. Instead it presents birth as a thing you have to be scared of…something you need rescuing from by nice professionals.
Any other suggestions for “things you won’t hear on #OBEM”? Here are some I’ve received on Facebook:
‘Instead of using these stirrups and me getting the forceps, why don’t you get up on your knees and hold onto the head rail for a few pushes.’ (the poster added: “Oh no sorry that will spoil my view”)
Triage: “You’re doing great! Your body is working so well, you’re already 3 cms. Relax and carry on doing what you’re doing, at home is best. Come back when your surges are stronger and closer together.” (Compared to, ‘Oh no, you’re ‘only’ 3cms. We can’t admit you yet’).
‘Tell me, how comfortable are you feeling right now, on a scale of 1 to 10?’ (As opposed to: “how much pain are you in on a scale of 1 to 10”)
You can probably think of more…