For those who know me personally, you know I'm a pretty big geek, and I married an even bigger one.Two of some of my most favorite things on this sweet earth are Birth and Science Fiction. So for this blog post I figured I'd delve into both of these in a sweet mash-up that can help debunk a ton of myths and misconceptions people have surrounding childbirth.
In this post I look at four different science fiction birth scenes, and talk about what common birth myths they perpetuate, as well as the truth regarding these myths. So let's get started with some Klingon midwifery:
1. Star Trek (TNG) Birth Myth: You Will Give Birth On Your Back
This is one of my favorite scenes from Star Trek TNG, what more could a birth worker ask for then a klingon delivery a baby? The Enterprise is in “disaster” mode leaving poor Keiko to give birth in the ship’s bar. Luckily, Lieutenant Worf was there to aid in this unplanned delivery. The main thing I wanted to address though, was not that Keiko was giving birth in a bar, but rather that she gave birth on her back.
The majority of people in America (over 57%) give birth laying on their back, despite the numerous potential benefits of being able to move in labor. TV and movies constantly show people pushing laying on their back, and the truth of the matter is that there are plenty more positions to choose from. Some other positions that you can try as you’re laboring and pushing include:
Semi or Side-lying
Hands and Knees
People who were able to move around and be “upright” during labor had significantly shorter pushing stages (57 minutes vs 73 minutes). Studies show that people should be able to choose how they want to labor, whether that’s upright, laying down, or somewhere in between. There’s pros and cons to all positions, and people should do what feels right for them.
2. Star Wars Birth Myth: You Won't Survive Birth
Love me some Star Wars, but not a huge fan of the dying in childbirth cop-out. Whether it’s Disney movies or The Walking Dead, writers love to kill off parents and what better way to do that then in childbirth.
The current maternal death rate in the US is 21 deaths for 100,000, which equates to .021%, so super low. Films and TV love to show the screaming in pain laboring person who looks on the brink of death, but honestly they couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Obviously, I’m biased being a doula, but I find people laboring and birthing their babies to be the most awe-inspiring, incredible moments on this planet. There is nothing more joyful than parents meeting their children for the first time, and the strength and resilience I’ve seen never ceases to amaze me. We’re taught that birth is something we need to survive but really it is something we can experience and learn so much from. My labor absolutely changed who I was as a person, and I’ve seen that change take place with my clients as well.
Also, come-on she doesn’t even have a belly, and she’s pregnant with twins. You’re telling me a Star Wars Movie with a 113 million dollar budget couldn’t afford a realistic childbirth scene?
3. Star Trek Birth Myth: You Will Be Alone
Ok so we have another Star Trek, what can I say there was too much good material...and I’m a bit of a Trekkie. This emergency birth has the ship under attack, and the father of the unborn child (played by a rather dashing Chris Hemsworth) has to stay aboard the ship while his partner gives birth in a shuttle craft.
It's plenty of birthing people's fear (or sometimes even expectation) that they will be alone for any if not all of their labor. I remember having anxiety that my birth support team wouldn’t be able to make it in time for my birth, and how relieved I was when everyone was able to be in place. Having proper support in labor is really important in order to lower your stress and anxiety hormones, which can contribute to shorter labors with less interventions.
In addition to your partner or family and friends you may want to include a birth doula to provide great support. My previous blog post covers some big reasons on why to have a doula at your next birth.
4. Men In Black Birth Myth: You'll Give Birth In Your Car
Ok, so technically this one isn’t IN space persay, but it involves aliens, so I thought I’d tack it on at the end. This scene features another one of Hollywood's classic birth tropes, a roadside delivery. A high fear in pregnancy is that you will not be at your planned birth place, and you will end up birthing your baby in a car or aisle 10 of your Walmart (Where the Heart Is reference...anyone?).
The fact of the matter is, in 2013, only 1.4% of births occurred outside a hospital, and the vast VAST majority of those were planned home births or at birth centers. Precipitous labors (labors that are under 3 hours long) are fairly rare events, especially in first time parents. Now, I’m not saying that they don’t happen. If you’re first labor was only 6 hours long and this is your second or third child, you’ll probably want to stick pretty close to your birthing place. But more often then not there is MORE then enough time to enjoy labor at home and not to stress over getting to your birth location "in time".
On the extreme rare occasion where you do find yourself giving birth without your support team, next blog I’ll be covering Emergent Births and the Best Ways to Prepare.
Alrighty, so now that you’ve all had your fill on spacey birth nonsense, be sure to check out some real videos of birth:
Hope you enjoyed this post and have a groovy week! Be sure to sign up for my newsletter to get more tips and info on doulas, pregnancy, and childbirth in Minnesota.
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