When we talk about natural childbirth, convening with nature while in the grips of intense contractions is probably not what most of us have in mind. But this is exactly what Lifetime’s new show, Born in the Wild, shows women doing.
Unassisted by doctors, women bare down and push in peaceful natural settings while a camera crew follows their unique birth story. Entertainment Weekly reports about the Lifetime show and the controversy it’s stirring up before it even airs.
Born in the Wild goes beyond homebirths or Jacuzzi births in birthing centers as it shows women doing the extreme opposite of medical birth. Their press release reads, “What happens when the craziest experience of a woman’s life becomes truly wild, and soon-to-be parents decide to take on an unassisted birth in the outdoors. Born in the Wild will document the journeys of young, expectant parents who have chosen to give birth ‘in the wild.”
If you detect a dangerous edge to the promotion of the show you’re not alone. Maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Fetal Center Dr. Ron Jaekle answers the show’s question rather bluntly. He says, “I understand everybody wants to believe we overmedicalize pregnancy and that it’s a natural process. But it’s a natural process that historically has caused an extraordinary loss of life. There is not a single piece of literature that we had to read growing up that didn’t talk about somebody’s mother or wife dying in childbirth, it was part of the national vocabulary. In the 1900s, a women died for every 1,000 babies born in the United States. Today it’s .1 for every 1,000.”
Though the show’s promoters make it sound like the Born in the Wild is showing women in a risky situation, Lifetime’s senior VP, Eli Lehrer, assures viewers that the women are not in any real danger. The show will only accept healthy women who have given birth before and the crew will have a trained medical professional on hand in case of emergency and be in close proximity to a hospital. Lehrer adds, “This isn’t [Discovery Channel's] Naked and Afraid and we’re dropping people in the woods and saying ‘go have the baby. These are all people who have already had babies in hospitals who had unsatisfying experiences and who are choosing to have different experiences. This is something people are doing and we set out to document it.”
What do you think of Lifetime’s new show about women giving birth in the wild? Would you watch?
Do you think birthing in the wild is taking the notion of natural childbirth too far?