Why is birth so misrepresented in films & TV?

SINCE a new arrival appeared in our lives, I have acquired a new morning routine. One governed by a (very cute) little baby boy.

Each morning, I wake up in the early hours (3am, 6am… how times have changed!) to feed my baby in the company of several US sitcoms on Channel 4.

After experiencing the joys (and pain) of giving birth myself recently, I find myself analysing every pregnant woman shown on TV, especially that classic plot line when they are shown going into labour. So I was a bit confused/astounded/incredulous to witness Frasier’s Daphne Moon was shown to have her waters break, have about 3 contractions and give birth within a virtual 10 minutes, and it got me thinking as to why birth is so completely misrepresented on telly.

It was the same as I mindlessly watched Star Trek Into Darkness while our baby slept, where at the beginning of the film Captain Kirk’s mother miraculously goes into labour and gives birth within 20 minutes.

The list if these kinds of scenes is endless once you start looking out for examples.
There is so much chatter around feminism and how women are portrayed at the moment, and it makes me wonder whether this plays a part of these conversations. Why is birth shown to be over quickly? It can actually last days for some mums-to-be. Most women don’t give birth lying down on their backs, and many women’s waters don’t break prior to their contractions beginning. But according to movies, there is only one version of birth that is deemed safe for general consumption. Why is the most natural thing in the world too ugly for the silver and small screen?

It was quite a revelation learning the truth about labour during my antenatal classes. Everything was so different to what I thought I “knew”! But pre-pregnancy, would I have wanted to know the truth? Or was I happy with the sanitised version of labour I had been shown?

Where you surprised by the reality of birth? Or would you prefer to live in blissful ignorance?





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