- 46% of new UK parents say that TV shapes their view of childbirth, over DOUBLE the amount that listen to Health Professionals
- A third (35%) say they are frightened by childbirth due to the way it’s portrayed on TV
- Only 3% of UK mothers say they felt confident, and 9% feel positive, about giving birth
TV shows such as Call the Midwife and One Born Every Minute portray childbirth to a vast, engaged audience like nothing has ever done before. So much so that there are now twice as many (46%) new parents in the UK whose views on childbirth are shaped by the TV over and above the advice and thoughts of health professionals (23%).
What effect does this have? The Baby Show survey shows that women on TV, screaming in pain as they struggle through labour in order to make a dramatic scene, leads to many expectant viewers to form negative views of childbirth at a time when they should be excited about their impending new arrival. In fact, the most common feeling listed by new parents in the UK about how they feel about childbirth is anxious (35%), whilst only 3% said they felt confident, and 9% positive, despite the fact that thousands of women each year experience positive, life-enhancing births.
Research by The Baby Show, which returns to the London Olympia from Friday 20th until Sunday 22nd October also revealed that friends’ experiences were a far more influential source of information than that of a professional with over half (55%) of new parents in the UK calling on friends for advice.
Beverley Turner, founder of The Happy Birth Club and expert speaker at The Baby Show, says:
“Without a doubt a lot of the birth scenes conveyed on television are dramatized to make for interesting viewing. However it is important that expectant mothers don’t allow this to shape their expectations. At the Happy Birth Club I hear time and time again wonderful, positive childbirth stories – the likes of which you are unlikely to see on the TV screens!”
Whilst the majority of new parents (70%) said that they found it helpful to see what might happen during childbirth via TV, a third (31%) argued that the media portrays childbirth too negatively. Meanwhile, nearly half (46%) said that if the media portrayed childbirth in a more positive light, they would feel more confident about the childbirth process – something that is essential to a happy birth for mother, baby as well as partner.
As Milli Hill, author of The Positive Birth Book, and expert speaker at The Baby Show explains:
“Women want different things from their birth experience but are usually united on this: they want it to be positive. Your mindset during labour is really important. We all understand the connection between mind and body and how one can have such an effect on the other. Oxytocin is the birth hormone and is essential to the process, however we need to be comfortable and at ease in order to produce it. Adrenaline inhibits the production of oxytocin and is present in stressful situations, therefore parents need to create an optimal, positive environment to create as much oxytocin as possible!”
A third (35 %) of new parents go as far to say that they are frightened by childbirth, due to the way it is portrayed on TV. Milli offers the following advice for women experiencing a stressful labour and to create a positive mindset:
- Dim the lights
- Build a cosy place or ‘nest’ using pillows and blankets and get warm and snuggled
- Connect with your partner with loving words
- Focus your mind on the people you love: other people in your life, or the baby you will soon meet
- Try nipple stimulation
- Smooch with your partner, make love or masturbate
- Use breathing, visualisation, meditation, yoga or hypnobirthing to relax and get back in the ‘zone’
“It’s true that we need to give women an accurate picture, but the trick here is getting the balance right between showing how birth IS for many women, and how it COULD BE. It’s no good giving women an idyllic idea of birth in a system that doesn’t have the resources – such as one to one midwifery care – to support this kind of experience. But on the other hand, women need to get more positive messages about birth, in order to reduce fear and to help them to seek out the kind of places and circumstances – such as home birth or birth in a midwife led unit, active birth, water birth and so on – that are more likely to make this kind of birth possible.”
Parents looking for advice about making the childbirth process as positive as possible can head to The Baby Show which returns to London Olympia from 20th – 22nd October.
Tickets are available in advance for £14.45 Friday/£15.45 Saturday and Sunday, or £20 on the door. Under 14s go free all weekend.
Address: Olympia London, Olympia Way, London, W14 8UX
For more information visit www.thebabyshow.co.uk
Friday 20th October: 10am – 5.30pm
Saturday 21st October: 10am – 5.30pm
Sunday 22nd October: 10am – 5.30pm