Lifetime show “One Born Every Minute”, alternate title “Would You Like an Epidural With That?”

I let another baby show into my life today.  It snuck up on me and I missed the premiere but thankfully Jezebel.com reminded me.  I set off to DVR the next showing.  Luckily, I knew the network, Lifetime, wouldn’t hold out on me too long before it re-aired the premiere.  I flipped through a day’s worth of quality programming such as “Reba,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Unsolved Mysteries,” and a heckuvalotta paid programming on how to lose weight, eat right, and get rid of stretchmarks…… then…… bam!  Next airing.  Remind me next time to find the title!  “One Born Every Minute.”  Where have I heard that phrase before…… oh right.

I already knew coming into this episode that it was snarky and less than supportive of natural childbirth.  Both Jezebel.com and The Feminist Breeder had posts up already.  I wanted to see for myself.

In the introduction there are SCREAMING women cut into tiny, quick shots for high drama.  If I were pregnant I would want to run away screaming already.  Nothing like showing a woman in the most intense pain of their lives (although probably most of these shots were filmed during the pushing phase, where even a medicated woman would be screaming or making the O face) to remind you to take your birth control pill.

The title of this episode was so right on “To Medicate or Not, That is the Question” Every woman shown, even the woman who walked in with a birth plan and was dedicated to a low intervention, drug free birth, was asked numerous times “Would you like an epidural?”  Other versions of this question, “Do you want something for the pain?”  “Would you like something in your IV to numb the pain?”  or the assumption, “Ready for your epidural, yet?”

One of the moms was interviewed and had this to say about giving birth drug free: “You wouldn’t go to the dentist and get your tooth pulled without medication, why would you give birth that way?” Or something to that effect.  I didn’t write it down… I was shaking a rattle for my baby while viewing the show!

No, I wouldn’t go med free to have a tooth pulled, nor would I request to have my arm sawed off without some anesthesia.  In these cases, the doctor is in complete control of the procedure.  I would merely be a limp, hopefully very medicated and very happy, piece of meat.

Childbirth is a horse of another color. Pain has a purpose. Pain makes you move, change positions, moan, yell, and scream.  Natural childbirth is a primal experience where you don’t care about the eyes around you.  Your decision making is purely instinctual.  This is a GREAT thing.  I felt trepidation about looking silly, making noise, and so on.  When the time came, I would have crab walked nude through the living room if that made the labor progress and the pain easier to manage.  Once you accept and embrace the pain, you will get through it.  And if you are having a hard time, visualize the baby coming through your birth canal.  I did this over and over, I could almost feel those warm wrinkles on his head before he even came out.

And because I am so impressed by the couple on this show who allowed their labor, no matter how loud, to be aired, I decided to let you see the only video from my homebirth.  20 seconds of a contraction during transition.  This was only a few minutes before I had to push.

I chose a homebirth to avoid the temptation of drugs.  I had an epidural the first time but I didn’t want another.  Now, If you ask me once if I want a bowl of ice cream when I am on a diet, I will say no.  If you come back and ask me again after I have already been thinking about how damn tasty that ice cream would be, so much so that I am salivating, I am going to say no but really, I want to say yes.  If you come back and say, “You know, one bowl of ice cream isn’t going to make you gain 10 pounds, and it will make you feel better.  Would you like one?”  I am going to say yes.

And if you use the tone of voice one of the nurses on the show used and say “Are you sure? ” And then makes a sing songy “OkaAAAaay” I am going to punch you, then eat my ice cream.

Jamie Lee Curtis narrates this show, which is based on the UK version.  From what I hear, the UK show is much more documentary like, and less “ting ting tong” with their music and editing.  The sarcasm evident in Jamie Lee’s voice whenever she says a woman doesn’t want the meds, or the woman is laboring her own way, is so uncalled for.  When one of the couples has their baby after 25 hours of labor, naturally, Jamie Lee says they survived their natural labor with such shock and sarcasm.  It was very reminiscent of the narrator on “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” who, after these women had unassisted, natural births at home, who makes it sounds like it is a miracle the baby survived the drug free delivery.

If you are steadfast in your ideas about childbirth, go ahead and give the show a watch.  If you are pro-natural birth, you will want to shoot your TV.  Or, you can make it a drinking game and take a shot every time someone says “Epidural” or “Push.”

What saddens me is that every pregnancy and childbirth shows labor and delivery as a traumatic, excruciatingly painful, dangerous event that needs to be managed and monitored and controlled by the nurses and doctors.  The mainstream media rarely shows it for what it is: natural, instinctual, amazing, and beautiful. I watched these shows when I was pregnant with my first son and no doubt, they shaped my idea of childbirth.  That is what the general population is seeing, and that is why they are afraid of birth.

Lifetime wasn’t content scaring us to death with stories of unfaithful husbands, rape, and kidnapping, now they want to scare us away from childbirth too!  I think I will stick to the Will and Grace reruns.

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