BBC1 Childbirth – all or nothing – Refreshing but could have done more

When I heard that one of Natal Hypnotherapy’s mothers was going to be on a TV documentary I felt the usual slight trepidation at how she, her birth and her choices were going to be portrayed. Over the years I have become quite cynical about these kinds of programs as usually they are looking for the “entertainment/trauma” value. Women who have chosen to use hypnosis for their birth preparation have been portrayed as very alternative, a bit hippy dippy, and often the editing focuses on the few times when the woman has been more vocal or going through self doubt, so giving the perception that the hypnosis “has not worked”.

However I was pleasantly surprised and relieved that the BBC program “childbirth – all on nothing” showed a very impartial and non-judgemental view of the different choices that women make when it comes to childbirth.  Also very refreshing, was the positivity of the healthcare professionals in their support of the women. Even if the healthcare professional was not fully in agreement with the woman’s choice (free birthing without a midwife), they remained supportive and nonjudgemental.

It was also refreshing that three out of the four women had chosen to give birth at home. This is very unusual compared to most birth related documentaries. Not only had the women chosen to give birth at home, but all of them had a very positive outlook on their bodies ability to give birth and felt very confident in their choice, their birth partner and, where applicable, their healthcare professionals support.

Only 2 of the actual births were shown and in many ways they could not have been further apart. The first birth was a planned cesarean which showed the medical procedure in great detail, including breaking the waters and lifting the baby out.

The second was Kati’s home birth using Natal Hypnotherapy.  Sadly it only showed about three minutes of the birth, however those three minutes were beautiful, empowering and inspiring.  She was so calm, focused and obviously had complete trust in her body and the birthing process. She gave birth in the water in a darkened room where she felt completely safe.  Her birth partner and supporting midwives were there for her but gave her the space she needed to follow her body’s cues and her instincts.

I have been in contact with Kati and although she feels the program was well made, she also feels that it did not really represent the actual labour and birth as well as they could have. She felt that it focused more on the fact that she wanted to eat the placenta rather than on her preparation for birth and the techniques used. As a result she has started a fundraising campaign to be able to re – edit all of the footage to show the birth in the way that she feels gives it justice. Anyone can donate from as little as £5 to enable her to create some bitesized videos which will empower women to feel more confident and less fearful about birth. You can read more and make a donation here–3

Some people will find the program quite extreme and will no doubt have their opinions on the women’s choices, however overall this is a very positive and useful documentary for women who are pregnant and want more information on the choices available, especially as it shows the option of Homebirth as one which is normal safe and acceptable.

As for my personal opinion, if a woman is given the right support, there was less fear mongering, more positivity about the body’s ability to give birth and increased awareness of techniques to help her stay relaxed and reduce pain, then more women could have the kind of birth experience that Kati had. Her birth undoubtedly was less risky, more healthy for her and her baby and less painful in the long run, in comparison to the woman who chose elective abdominal surgery to bring her baby into this world.

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