Media perception of Midwifery

Amber Sage

Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Nursing and Midwifery
Course: BSc (Hons) Midwifery
Category: Nursing and midwifery

29 April 2019

I'm now halfway through my training as a student midwife and constantly asked by people “what's it like delivering babies!?” Of course being involved in the delivery of a healthy baby is amazing but it's really just a small part of what we do and it's not always as straight forward.

A large number in society perceive midwifery to be similar to what they see on the television. Programmes such as One Born Every Minute and soap operas show childbirth to be very different to what it is in reality!

There are some similarities in the programmes to what occurs in real life but there are also major differences. The idea that midwives sit in the office eating cakes and drinking tea is a very big difference! I can promise you now it is only very rarely that midwives have a chance to sit and enjoy a cup of tea. Most of the time you'll make a cup then a buzzer will go and before you know it you're returning to your tea 3 hours later with the realisation it's stone cold! (At least we have microwaves aye!)

Midwifery is a whole heap more than delivering babies. I will agree that before I started my studies I thought this would be the main part, the best bit, but it's not the case. Although it is an amazing part of the job there is so much more involved! Midwifery translates to 'with woman' and this is honestly the most important part. Through the whole child bearing period women are supported by midwives (and other appropriate professionals if needed) and I truly believe this is the most important part, building a relationship with the women and supporting them throughout. Technically midwives don't deliver the babies because it's the women who do the hard work! They recognise any deviations from the norm and monitor the labour and delivery to ensure mum and baby are healthy. Catching the baby (a phrase used by midwives during a delivery) is a truly rewarding part of the career but only the hard work put in before makes that possible!

Having watched women birth on the television I had always believed that the natural, best position to birth a baby is on your back. This is not true! But it's what we see? How can it not be true? If we look at other mammals NONE of them birth on their backs!? It's not a natural position. There are situations when it would benefit but a much better position to birth in is on all fours or squatting! These positions open the pelvis more, allow for the coccyx (small bony part at the bottom of the spine) to move out of the way and allow gravity to assist in the birthing process. A lot of women will adopt this position naturally!

I do believe programmes showing birth are needed in society but a lot of what we see isn't reality so maybe society's perception of midwifery and child birth is very biased? Many people will then go on to Google to find out further information, but again this isn't all true facts and may scare women and their families as to what is to come during pregnancy and childbirth. This is an increasing issue we see in midwifery and we have many talks with women and their families after they have googled information. We constantly advice women to trusted internet sites to ensure the information they receive is correct.

I have seen a big gap in the reality of childbirth and the way it is perceived in society showing how important it is to not always believe what you see on the media.

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