Every time I hear that one of my clients has been religiously watched "A Baby Story" during her pregnancy, I almost cringe. I, personally, can not stand to watch "A Baby Story". The program is so scripted: family gathering, ask about how mom's doing, go to the hospital, get checked, order the epidural, push a few times, happy music plays as soon as baby's born. Mom is visited and almost always we hear that "[baby's name] is such a good baby. He sleeps through the night (at 2 weeks old) and never cries unless he's hungry or wants to be changed."
This program irritates me because it sends the message that all births follow a script and are very predictable. I've actually had a client (a very young one) who didn't believe me when I told her that her labor could go on for 18 hours. She refused to order an epidural because she could tolerate pain for half an hour. I was wondering what she meant by that when she told me after 6 hours of labor - "This doesn't happen on TV. The baby is always out before a half hour is up."
We even had a new doula state that she thought she knew it all when it came to childbirth, and that she was very surprised when her baby wasn't out after 2 pushes. She said she attributed it to programs like "A Baby Story" when everything is condensed, especially when it comes time to push.
Has reality TV affected your work? Do you have patients who come in and are surprised when labor is very different from what's shown on TV?
May 23, '04
I think those reality shows scare the hell out of people, though, CNM. One obstetric crisis after another, with fast-paced music (like a heartbeat), excited, agitated narration and quick camera work make for a very tense show that can make some who take TV too literally fear for their OWN situations. (when there is nothing amiss). I think anyone taking TV literally is poorly-served by these programs and they in turn make our jobs much more difficult. If we say or do something contradictory to the show, we are questioned suspiciously. And it would seem there are too many who do turn to TV shows like this for their "education".
I took care of a gal other day who sadly lost a 22- week pregnancy to premature rupture of membranes. Now, when we explained the baby was not likely viable (dates were absolute as this was IVF/confirmed by serial u/s), a well-meaning family member spoke up angrily and said "I saw a TV show where a 19 week baby was born, did fine, and is a school-age kid today! How can you NOT do something here???!" Did not matter, when we explained the NICU course ahead, plus the liklihood of permenent devastating disabilities facing the newborn IF she survived.
I explained that regarding that show, the viewers would have no way of knowing what the true gestational age of a baby born would be, and that ratings have a lot to do with how they present the outcomes. I also explained there is a HUGE difference in neonatal survival between 19 weeks and 23, 24 weeks and beyond. It did little good and in fact, harmed the whole situation, with the family demanding "everything" be done. ("everything" was done, believe me, and the baby died 5 minutes after being born).
I see this ALL the time. TV shows really, really make it much more difficult at times and I hate when someone says "that was not how it was on Maternity Ward, Baby Story or whatever- show- it- was"! It is all I can do to grit my teeth and not say "you should spend less time watching TV and more reading or going to school if you are interested in medicine!" I don't blame just the shows, but the viewers who spend so much time watching TV. Like I said earlier, people are way too literal regarding TV viewing. They think "reality TV" is equal to an absolute knowledge of the entire situation being dramatized.
GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR off the ole soapbox now.
Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on May 23, '04