Monday, June 15, 2009

'Birth Beyond Belief' - Homebirth on TV

I got this through a doula listserv. Here's the press release:

We are excited to announce the premiere of Births Beyond Belief, a reality program which airs on Discovery Health June 16th at 7pm CST. The show, created and produced by Video Arts, explores the ups and downs of homebirth by following three separate mothers in Hawaii, Los Angeles, and New Jersey. Rarely is homebirth highlighted on such a large stage in mass media like Discovery Health, which is broadcast in over 68 million households.

Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher's full time chef, Grace GlennAnthony, pursued a home birth with their support. The Video Arts crew documented Grace working in the celebrities' Beverly Hills home. Grace's baby was in the breech position making homebirth an illegal option according to California law. She was forced to choose between sacrificing her dream birth and breaking the law.

Hawaii couple, Jason and Kollette Stith, gave birth on their organic coffee bean farm deep in the mountains in a Mongolian tent known as a yurt. The delivery was complicated by the fact that their remote location is only accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles and does not have running water or electricity.

A New Jersey couple, Soyini and Esu Ma'at, were expecting their second child. The Video Arts crew documented Soyini in a temple in Brooklyn using sacred Egyptian meditations to prepare for birth. The birth took a dramatic turn when Soyini requested to move from the floor of her bedroom to a birthing tub to deliver after the baby's head had crowned.

Don't miss this engaging documentary produced right here in Fargo, ND by Video Arts Studios on Tuesday, June 16th at 8pm (EST/PST), 7pm (CST).

Do I smell a little sensationalization here? A breech birth, a remote location, and obviously a stretch for the third one - "Oh no! She wanted to move! You can't MOVE!" It's frustrating because the press release makes it sound like it's so great that they're showing homebirths, and then goes on to spin all three births as only something only those crazy, "beyond the pale" types do. Why does home birth have to be "beyond belief" or "dramatic"?

Someday I'm going to make a documentary about hospital birth called "Sadly, Births That Are All Too Common". Instead of dramatizing un-dramatic things, it will do the opposite. When someone yells in a mom's face to push, the camera will zoom in on reassuring FHTs and a pop-up will offer the factoid that purple pushing is not evidence-based. When a mother is told her labor is progressing too slowly and she requires an "emergency" c-section, we'll cut to a review of the research on labor dystocia. Fun!

I am currently cable-less, but given that Discovery Health re-airs things often, I'm hoping to catch this show again in the future. If anyone out there watches it first, I'd like to hear a review!


k. emvee said...

I watched the show last night and it was exactly how you predicted. Boy oh boy did they try hard at every turn to find something controversial to talk about. Most of the time, they failed miserably. These women, their families, and their midwives continued to look like pretty sane decision makers to me. Now, I don't quite know how that would look to they eye of a typical American, but it was pretty clear they weren't raving lunatics.

My favorite part was during the birth of the woman from Hawaii. Her baby came before the midwife, and at some point her youngest daughter looks up with a big "wait a minute here!" look on her face and announces "April [the midwife]!" "What honey?" her mom asks. "April!! April didn't come!" says the daughter. Loved it.

publichealthdoula said...

Thanks for giving me the update! I am curious to see it myself (especially the Hawaii one!) although of course sorry it turned out the way it did. Do you think the documentary people are trying to sensationalize AND don't really have a clue what's going on, or they know and sensationalize anyway?