I thought I’d live-semi-transcribe it for you. Some of this is quickly paraphrased, but the quoted material is not misquoted in ways (I hope) that misrepresent the speakers. Typos and grammos probably abound.
I could have point-by-pointed it, but I thought it might be more fun to do this interactively. Your challenge, as the Hoydentariat, is to come up with more than a dozen things wrong with this show – factual errors, feminist headsplosions, whatever you like – by morning. I reckon if we try, we can get to two dozen. Number your critiques.
Opener: “Homebirth: Is it safe? What are the risks? And should every women have the right to do this birthing method at home?”
We know that the show is all about health and safety and not at all about the medico-industrial complex spinning cash by playing on women’s insecurities, because the show opens with an advertorial for CO2 laser skin resurfacing for wrinkles. The laser resurfacing is demonstrated on an eggplant, and they promise us a later before and after on a 48 year old woman, Gay, complete with Queer-Eye style fashion makeover.
The panel consists of a male doctor in a white coat, a white male doctor in scrubs, a black female OB (Doctor Masterson) in civvies. There is no midwife in sight.
“All of you know about homebirths, where moms, sometimes with midwives, are delivering babies – sometimes in a bathtub. I want to know your opinion – is this a good thing or a bad thing?
“The bottom line is we as doctors want safety first.
White coat guy: Four of my siblings were born at home…
Chorus: “They were lucky!!!
WC: “No no no. Homebirth can be a safe experience if it’s done the right way. With a doctor present. My father was a doctor, you see. You hear these awful horror stories about non certified midwives who are afraid to get help when something goes wrong.
Others: And sometimes with certified midwives, too!
Scrubs guy calls this show a “Debate”. There are three doctors talking about how midwife-attended homebirth is OMG HORROR INSTANT GUARANTEED DEATH, and none who actually know anything about homebirth. There is still no midwife in sight. They are using some meaning of “debate” with which I am unfamiliar.
The pre-ad flash teaser consists of a near-tears woman saying “My mother called 911. And the ambulance came, and took my baby from my arms, and he was dying.”
Return from ad. We see the Laser Woman, only from the rear, in a new dress, Queer Eye guy talking about how awesome she looks. Audience goes wild.
Next they show a couple, Billy and Jenny. Jenny is six months pregnant with first child.
“We are considering our options and our birth plan, and we have to make our decisions pretty quick”. She expresses her wish for a natural birth, a homebirth, and talks about how they are working with a midwife and how she doesn’t want an epidural, and she wishes to feel fully ‘present’ for the birth of her child. She has explored hypnobirthing and water birthing for pain alleviation. “Hospitals are definitely for sick people, and I don’t feel that birth is a sickness”. “We want to know whether birth at home would be safe, or whether we are taking an unnecessary risk.”
Interview. Scrubs guy: “What made you think of a homebirth in the first place?”
Jenny explains that they do try to lead a fairly ‘natural’ lifestyle, with organic foods, etc. Therefore they began to do research looking into their birthing options. They have an obstetrician. “Our OB is open, but every time I ask him what I can do to prepare for this birth, he just says “Well, that’s all up to you.” I would think that if that were my field, I would look at other forms of birthing. But this is all so new to me, and when I get a blanket answer to everything, I’m left with a lot of questions.”
Dr M explains condescendingly that they’re here today to “help her make an informed choice”. There is still no midwife in sight.
Scrubs guy asks them whether they’ve met anyone who has had a homebirth. They say no. The team has brought people in to tell them about their experience.
Stephanie (Pilates instructor) and Marcel – gave birth in birthing pool in her own home.
They show some of her birth video with woman’s voiceover, talking about using her low voice, keeping herself comfortable, talks about how she prepared for her birth.
Doctor Masterson: You know, I don’t care what you do in labour. If you want to swing from the chandeliers you can do it! So long as you deliver that baby. But it’s just like a party, you know? When things go wrong, they can go wrong fast.
Scrubs guy: Up next: a mother who says not only does she regret choosing an alternative birth for her son, but it also almost ended up costing his life.
“It’s really overwhelming choosing a birthing method today. We have hypnobirthing, homebirthing… a traditional, old-fashioned hospital birth.”
Scrubs guy: Talks about how the couple haven’t yet made their decision. “There’s another option. Have you considered a birthing centre?”
Jenny: “Yes, we looked at a birthing centre. We were wary of the environment itself – it was like, sort of, half a home, and half like a doctor’s office.
Scrubs guy: “Which is kind of the point!”
Jenny: “Yes. There was something about the environment that was very uncomfortable.”
Doctor Masterson: “Birth centres are set up so they feel a bit like a home. But they’re not set up for emergencies.”
Goes to woman in audience. She talks at length about how normal her pregnancy was, and about how she birthed beautifully in a home jacuzzi. They then found out that the baby had a congenital kidney abnormality, the kidneys were very swollen, and they had ruptured the lungs on the way out during the birth. “My mother just knew, and after 45 minutes she called 911 and the ambulance came and took my baby from my arms. They wrapped him in a silver blanket, and he was dying”. He has since had a number of operations and is now ok.
They go to a doll lying on a coffee table and say that they’re going to demonstrate shoulder dystocia.
Cut to a computer simulation. The woman is absent, nothing but a lower spine and pelvis, lying supine, and the CGI baby gets its shoulder caught under the pubic bone.
Doctor Masterson describes a number of manoeuvres – McRoberts (pushing the legs right up in exaggerated lithotomy position), fundal pressure, Woods Screw, episiotomy, breaking the clavicle (Masterson says “shoulder”), cutting through the rectum, symphysiotomy (cutting through the symphysis pubis, which Dr M calls “cutting through the pubic bone”), pushing the baby back up and doing a C section (Zavanelli manoeuvre).
The Gaskin manoeuvre is not mentioned, nor are any of the other preventive measures that midwives use. Like not forcing a woman onto her back in the first place.
Jenny: “What percentage of the births that you see in the hospital have an issue like this?”
Dr. M: 10 to 15%, depending on the population.”
Scrubs guy” “I know there were big words in there, but the bottom line is – you don’t want to do this at home”.
Doctor Masterson: “We as OBs take on responsibility. Believe me, you don’t want to take on responsibility for the birth of your child.”
Doctor Masterson: “The other thing that can happen is fetal distress. I know some midwives will bring monitors to the home. But this is the only way we can monitor the baby and discover fetal distress”. They show a CTG strip and describe a “crash” and how when this happens, they need a C section within five minutes.”
Scrubs guy describes postpartum haemorrhage. “We’re here to give the pros and cons of home birthing. Sometimes there can be a compromise. Our next guest may have the answer.”
Scrubs guy: “There are two major complications you have to worry about, right?”
Doctor Masterson: “Yeah, we’ve talked about the umbilical cord, and PPH, and shoulder dystocia. The umbilical cord can get stuck around the baby’s neck, and when that happens, you’ve got to act quickly. That’s why lots of hospitals now have what’s called “LDRs”, or labour and delivery rooms. They mimic the homebirth experience, but with medical emergencies taken care of.”
Scrubs guy talks to another couple in the audience, “You went to an LDR, and you talk about a spa, and all that, and how wonderful it was.” Woman described hypnobirthing and her birth preparation with that method. Her OB was familiar with HypnoBabies and worked with them through that process.
Scrubs Guy: “This hypnobirthing concept is so intriguing to me. Why don’t we do more of that?”
Doctor Masterson: “We’re getting there, we’re getting there. And hospitals are more and more moving toward these LDRs. They look better than my bedroom at home!”
Billy and Jenny describe the feelings of fear around birthing in a hospital, doctors intervening on schedules. “How much that that actually go on?”
Doctor Masterson: “ZIPPO! We just don’t go into obstetrics for a nice schedule.”
Billy: “That’s great to hear.”
Scrubs guy: “Homebirth can be a wonderful experience, that’s what people say. I know you, [turns to Doctor Masterson] You’re very concerned for the health of babies. I’m going to tell you a bit about why Doctor Masterson cares so much about this.” Apparently Doctor Masterson has worked in obstetrics in Africa. Dr M’s voiceover: “The biggest risk for women used to be childbirth, until we switched it into hospital.”
Crowd goes wild.
Dr M: “The biggest risk for women used to be childbirth. Until we switched it into hospital. Every minute a women dies in childbirth, and it’s so easy to solve – just like how we solved it here. We set up clinics, and hospitals, and equipment. This is close to my heart, because it’s not necessary, and it’s fixable. Things can go wrong, but if you’re prepared for them, you’re all set.”
Scrubs guy winds up. “If you want more info, log onto thedoctorstv.com.”
Next up: more on plastic surgery, and whether certain foods can help you in picking the sex of your baby. Someone says something about “shedding baby weight”.
I dip in a few minutes later. They’re saying something about jewel tones being in this season, and about how high heels are awesome because they say “Let’s make love all night”. The resurfaced woman is enthusing about how her face is making new collagen now, and about how she’s now confident enough to get back into the dating market.
I dip back in. Oprah is asking me whether I love what I look like naked. I switch off.
[h/t Joyous Birth forums]