Televising Childbirth: Understanding media impacts on perceptions of risk, women's choices and health
There is widespread concern among the birth community that representations of birth on mainstream television might be having a negative impact on women's experiences of pregnancy and birth.
Could TV be increasing fear or birth? Does television give a false impression of labour? (Think of the classic scene where someone's waters break, they rush to hospital, and the baby is born seemingly a few minutes later). Or does TV help women to prepare for birth?
There is very little research evidence about how women watch or think about televised birth. This project was funded by a Seed Award from the Wellcome Trust to investigate the issues and design new research about televised birth and the influence on women's perceptions, experiences, choices and health.
We undertook a range of activities to do this including:
- A review of the literature
- Analysis of One Born Every Minute
- Consultation with advocacy groups.
We devoted a whole Network meeting the Televising Childbirth and watched an episode of One Born together to inform a discussion of the issues. Network members also participated in an end of project workshop alongside researchers and the producer of One Born, to shape the next steps of the research.
It has been invaluable to hear the diverse views of Network members as we develop this new area of research. We are now in the process of seeking funding for the next stages.
It's a fascinating topic. I loved working with the researchers and taking part in discussions. The chance to share my experiences and help move maternity research forward is a rewarding experience.
DeBenedictis, Sara, Catherine Johnson, Julie Roberts and Helen Spiby (2018) Quantitative insights into Televised Birth: A Content Analysis of One Born Every Minute. Critical Studies in Media Communications. [Open Access]
Roberts, Julie & Sara De Benedicits (2019) Childbirth on Television: A scoping review and recommendations for further research. Feminist Media Studies [Open Access]