TV’s portrayal of pregnancy and birth is not always accurate

TV’s portrayal of pregnancy and birth is not always accurate

Pregnancy can be one of the happiest and scariest times of a woman’s life.  Unfortunately, this moment is often emotionally heightened through depictions of giving birth in the media.

Even though women have numerous options to look for information about pregnancy, reality TV and fictional television programs can have a profound impact, according to a recent study. The problem with this is that the pregnancy is not real.

It is dramatized for television and high-risk pregnancies are often highlighted more than normal pregnancies, research found. There is also more screaming during the birthing process, medical interventions and myths about pregnancy shown.

“While reality TV may show some depictions of real pregnancies, it is not the best option for research,” says Joan Schiller, perinatal educator at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill. “The best tools for preparing for a real childbirth experience include taking childbirth education classes at the hospital and asking your physician for advice.”

The study also found that women with higher levels of education admitted reality or drama television was purely entertainment or for educating younger children about reproduction. However, women with lower levels of education used reality TV as an alternative form of education for pregnancy planning.

Study leader Danielle Bessett, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Cincinnati, said women build an idea of pregnancy regardless of their socioeconomic background.

“Women formed impressions about pregnancy and birth after years of exposure to representations of pregnancy and birth on television,” she said.

Bessett said that even when highly-educated women said they think pregnancy on television is for entertainment only, they couldn’t deny they’ve already formed opinions from watching television in the past.

 

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Comments

2 Comments

  1. >>It is dramatized for television and high-risk pregnancies are often highlighted more than normal pregnancies, research found. There is also more screaming during the birthing process, medical interventions and myths about pregnancy shown.

    TV/movie birth is THE WORST. Having attended nearly four dozen births (as well as two of my own), I cringe every time I see it portrayed on a screen. Everything about dramatized birth is so hyped up. Everyone is always screaming at the top of their lungs, freaking out, and on the verge of death and destruction at every moment.

    If birth were really like that, there’s no way we’d be thriving as a species.

  2. Lisa Parro

    Spot on! Way more screaming on TV than in real life. Also way more women giving birth in cars and elevators. When’s the last time you got stuck on an elevator in real life?

About the Author

Liz Donofrio
Liz Donofrio

Liz Donofrio, health enews contributor, is a marketing specialist at Advocate Health Care. As a newlywed, she is happy to be done planning her wedding and enjoying spending time with her husband and new extended family. In her free time, you can find Liz cooking new tasty recipes for her family, attending Chicago sporting events and chasing after her shih tzu-yorkie, Buttons.