When I was very pregnant I watched as many episodes of TLC's "A Baby Story" as I could. I observed two things:
1. many of the birth stories were of couples in the state of NJ (how's that for diverse represenation)
2. many of the couples expressed a desire for minimal intervention but ended up having meds or a c section
Obviously, the importance of having a healthy birth is paramount and a c section is a real blessing, but it did feel like there were very few stories that actually were low intervention. That bothered me. I needed to fill my head with as many confidence-building stories as I could find to know that a natural birth was possible. I read Peggy Vincent's "Baby Catcher" in a matter of days.
I've chroncicled (in sparse detail to preserve some privacy) my birth story on here before, so won't go into that but I have been intrigued lately by the debate about birthing videos on YouTube that illustrate a broader need for realistic (that is, not reality TV versions) birthing stories.
But first, because I am a market researcher afterall, a couple of fun facts/observations:
1. 2.5 million people have searched for "YouTube births" (Google tells me). Another 46 million have searched for "birthing video" and other iterations of the same search query. I don't know the time period in which these searches are measured, but that's a stunning number of people who seem to be seeking "real" images of the birthing experience. (I'm sure there are some lurkers out there with other intentions too but let's just put that aside.)
2. It's educational for other reasons. There is a short article on The New York Times website today about a navy engineer who delivered his own child (the couple's fourth) after having watched a few semi-instructional videos on YouTube.
I was kind of surprised then by the results of a Parenting magazine poll which asked: Posting your birth video on YouTube: great or gross?. Overwhelmingly readers chose "gross" - 92% in fact. (I don't see an n here so this could reflect the sentiment of 100 or 12,000 people. Of the 16 comments posted on parenting.com in response to the same question, I counted 10 comments saying it was "gross" and 6 for "great" so the data do seem a bit dodgy.) What I found wholly compelling was the subtext - responses seemed to fall neatly into four categories - four P's if you will:
Women said the YouTube content allowed them to feel Prepared. Of those that thought it was gross, they often claimed it was a very Personal and Private experience better preserved in personal archives. But the subtext was the heart of the story. Many said that while they weren't comfortable with sharing their own intimate experience, if other women did then more Power to them. I wish the Parenting headline would have captured that because I think it's an important message that ought to be conveyed. As women, we need to stick together on issues of how to birth our babies and how to feed our babies (as basically the same debate is taking place on breastfeeding in public). There needs to be room for debate, but we need to hold each other up when we make different decisions. We need to empower each other, not suggest that what you might be posting on YouTube is "gross."
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