Lifetime’s Born in the Wild: an affront to countless women whose babies are born (and die) in the wild

Privilege narcissism racism

Outdoor homebirth is about to get a reality TV show. It’s a marriage made in heaven!

Homebirth advocates are narcissists and reality TV is made for narcissists who are so desperate for attention that they are willing to be ridiculed and/or humiliated on TV.

The only surprise is that it took this long.

Homebirth advocates like to pretend to themselves and others that this is how birth happens in nature (no, across all times, places and culture, birth was not outdoors and not attended by men), that birth is so deeply personal and “sexual” that a couple must experience it alone (really, then why are you broadcasting it for all the world to see?) and that it is safe. The entire practice would be nothing more than a punch line were it not for the fact that homebirth kills babies, increasing the risk of death anywhere from 3-9X higher than comparable risk hospital birth.

Homebirth is an affectation of the privileged and is also, in its own self-absorbed, narcissistic way, startlingly racist and classist. Homebirth advocates like to imagine that women in nature, particularly women of color, did not fear childbirth, simply squatted down by the Congo River to give birth, and immediately returned to their fabulously healthy paleo lifestyle.

It is an affectation of the privileged because you have to have easy access to hospital birth in order to give meaning to refusing it.

It is racist and classist because the producers of Born in the Wild could have gone to a myriad of destinations including parts of Africa and South East Asia to see what birth in the wild REALLY looks like. But those women are black and brown, and fear childbirth because they die in agony and in droves. Instead they filmed privileged white women in the faux “wild” complete with a medical team stage left, as well as a detailed transfer plan and hospitals on notice.

According to the World Bank, the life time risk of maternal death is the probability that a 15-year-old female will die eventually from a pregnancy related cause. In the US where modern obstetrics is available the risk of death due to pregnancy and childbirth over a lifetime is 1 in 1800. In contrast, a teenager in Cameroon has a 1 in 34 chance of dying of a pregnancy related cause over her lifetime and women in Chad have a 1 in 15 chance of dying.

You can bet that those women aren’t crowing about the virtues of birth in the wild.

Consider this rural Indian woman who braved a raging river in her 9th month of pregnancy in order to give birth in a hospital:

Yellavva used dried pumpkins and gourds as bouyancy aids to swim nearly a kilometre from her river island village to safety in southern Karnataka state.

She … wanted her baby born safely – there is no medical centre in her village and she did not want to give birth at home…

When Yellavva crossed the river last Wednesday, she says its swirling waters were rising 12 to 14 feet and even experienced swimmers would have hesitated to get into the water at the time.

“I was scared. But it was for my child that I got the determination to get over all my fear and cross the rising river waters,” she told BBC Hindi.

Yellavva was helped by her father, brother and cousins who swam with her.

“My brother went in front. I was next. My brother and cousins had tied dried hollowed pumpkin and bottle gourds around me so I was afloat,” she said.

Her brother Lakshman, who held on to the rope tied to the gourds and pumpkins, said: “My father was right behind her. Normally, the distance is a little more than half a kilometre. But, it took us about an hour to get her across. As we reached mid-point, the current was very very strong.”

The heavy current pushed them far downstream, making the distance they swam nearly one kilometre.

Birth in the wild (the real wild, not the made up fantasy of the TV show) is so deadly to babies that this desperate women risked her life, and her family risked their lives to give one baby the best chance of survival.

In contrast, Born in the Wild tells the stories of privileged, well off narcissists who RISK their babies’ lives for bragging rights and a chance to appear on TV. Born in the Wild is a racist, classist slap in the face, to the millions of women who have no choice but to give birth in the wild, and face the astronomical neonatal and maternal mortality that entails.

Born in the Wild is nothing more than an ugly and dangerous stunt.

Perfect for reality TV!

 

Parts of this piece first appeared in June 2014.

  • Melissa Wickersham

    Why did Lifetime Network’s legal department ever allow such a television program like Born in the Wild to be green lit in the first place? A major broadcast network like ABC, NBC or CBS might not want to risk the possible legal complications involved in filming a show like Born in the Wild.

  • sdsures

    We never found out what happened to that couple who wanted to have a dolphin-assisted water birth, did we?

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

      Because I am a dork I looked it up just now:
      http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/1095903/womans-dolphin-assisted-birth-makes-waves-around-the-world

      They claim they never wanted a dolphin assisted birth but they still sound like they have no idea how dangerous the home birth they DID have could have turned out(but they run a spiritual healing center, what ever the hell that means):

      “The birth was never intended to take place in the ocean. Instead, the couple, who lives on Hawaii’s Big Island and run a spiritual healing center there, planned a home birth in their yard, which overlooks the ocean. While she planned to use a birthing pool, when it came time, Dorina just couldn’t get comfortable in it. So last month she gave birth peacefully by candlelight on the grass in the darkness of night.”

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

        And if you want to see her blog: http://dorina-rosin.de/en/about-dorina/

        I think I sprained my eyes from rolling them too hard…yes I’m a cranky witch today

      • MaineJen

        “I think that swimming with the dolphins throughout my pregnancy and the deep preparation work I did (and Maika did) to heal any physical, emotional and spiritual trauma inside of me (and him) helped in creating our dream birth,” she told SheKnows.”

        Siiiiiiiiggggggghghhhhhhhhhhhh

      • sdsures

        Predictable back-pedalling.

        PS: All the best people are dorks!

        *flying my freak flag proudly*

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

          I’m mean…cuz I am wondering how that spiritual healing center they run is doing amidst the lava flows right now….
          Kilauea, proof positive the Mother Nature does not give a fuck what humans want or plan….

          I have lived to many places with scary natural disasters to believe that “nature” is warm and fluffy and wants whats best for me. It’s warm and fluffy AND has lots of teeth and really sharp claws…circling back to the original post…dolphins are carnivores and have been observed playing with baby sharks…like a squeaky toy, right before they eat them…what do people think dolphins have all those sharp teeth for?

      • sdsures

        Backpedaling much?

  • sweet

    This show is going to end up killing people because uneducated girls who watch this will try & have babies in the woods instead of a hospital or medical staff! These woman & men on this show only care about 15 minutes of fame & what kind if person spreads her legs for the world to see EVERYTHING for attention what a sicko!

  • Dr. Jo

    Thank you so much for this!!!!

  • Linda King

    I agree that if women are low-risk, have good birthing histories, and have well trained care providers, they should be able to birth where ever they wish.

  • Elizabeth Neely

    I watched one episode of this show and I threw up a little in my mouth…

    • sdsures

      Maybe they’d learn not to give birth in the wild after squatting in a patch of poison ivy.

      *evil grin*

  • Egad

    I’m speechless!

  • Harbinger of Reason

    The woman on last nights episode gave birth basically in her back yard. Yea it was in the middle of nowhere but she was going to have a home birth. I don’t think what she did was much different than a home birth. Which is fine with me if thats what makes them happy.
    The narration was a little bit of drummed up drama. But it was actually a decent show.
    Also in the lifetime interviews they said legally they offered each family medical care that would stand by on site but they turned it down. On top that they were not allowed to pay the women because they would essentially be employing them to do this.
    All in all I think what it does is bring something to the conversation. Women if they have been vetted by a medical professional can make their own choice.

    • We aren’t talking about homeschooling or bringing the child up into a religion, it’s a life or death choice which very often results in life-altering injury. At that stage of development, when the infant is “done baking”, they are their own entity entitled to the best care possible until they’re old enough to make such decisions on their own.

      So many things can go wrong during birth, which is why it ought to be done under the supervision of actual trained professionals.

      • Harbinger of Reason

        I believe they said in the episode that the women was a trained mid-wife. I agree it is dangerous and would never think this is a good option. But why is it not their choice?

        • Unfortunately, many trained midwives can’t stand under professional scrutiny. Like many people here, I’m cool with midwives, just not the low standards which allow many to sort of trip and fall into those vocations. There are states in which a woman with a high school diploma who watched a couple births in person can practice as a midwife.

          And as for choice, as I said in my previous comment, the fact that the infant is finished developing and ready to be born means that any decisions the mother makes will be effecting another human being rather than a parasitic cluster of bones and teeth. Adults can do what they want for themselves, I’m all about that, but when they’re medically negligent towards those who can’t rightfully make their own decisions, it’s wrong. So many infants hurt or killed by homebirth certainly wouldn’t have chosen that outcome just so that their parents could have a good “birth experience”.

          • Harbinger of Reason

            I see. That’s interesting. I didn’t know states could allow midwives to practice with such little knowledge. So if the midwife is up to your standards would you support a home birth?

          • Scary, isn’t it? I don’t understand how they aren’t even required to have a nursing degree.

            But no, I don’t support home birth in any circumstance, no more than I do adults pushing faith healing on children with painful or life-threatening illnesses. That’s what this comes down to in my book, medical negligence.

            It isn’t fair to put an infant at risk of death or a lifelong disability just for the sake of home birth.

          • Linda King

            There are safety risks by woman getting an epidural, drugs in labor, not moving in labor or having a c-section that can jeopardize the life of the baby….should their rights be taken away like the other mothers who want to have their baby elsewhere.

          • SporkParade

            You should hang around here; you might learn something. Of course there are risks to interventions. But the risks of not intervening are much greater. Even with epidurals (studies show that women who do not have pain relief during labor are more likely to suffer PPD and even PTSD).

          • Linda King

            I would love to learn more. I have seen births as a nurse and doula. I would consider the sample of the study and ask, were the ones that reported that they had PPD or PTSD, the same mothers who wanted a natural birth or who accidentally had to give birth naturally for one reason or another.

          • SporkParade

            That would be difficult to judge given that many women who want epidurals are talked out of them by natural childbirth advocates who exaggerate and flat-out make up risks associated with them.

          • Linda King

            some may be made up and some may not be. threw the years and reading about epidurals and even the numbing “…cain” derivatives injected before the epidural have surprised me what kind of side effects they can have that I had no idea before I looked into them. one the flip side I have heard both nurses and anesthesiologists tell a laboring woman that no medication got to their baby at all. and that also is not true and unfair, and does not follow the informed consent requirement before a procedure.

          • Who?

            What medication from an epidural gets through to the baby?

          • Roadstergal

            Three years later, she still hasn’t figured it out. Such a well-informed ‘nurse/doula’…

          • SporkParade

            What kinds of side effects are you talking about and where are you getting your information from? I’ve seen people claim that women who get pain relief during labor are less able to bond with their babies and are more likely to have trouble breastfeeding (with breastfeeding being presented as a matter of life or death), neither of which are true. As to whether any medication gets to the baby, my understanding is that the point of an epidural is that the drugs don’t leave the blood-brain barrier. Compare that with narcotic pain relief, which absolutely can have side effects.

          • Daleth

            Linda, what “safety risks” are there, exactly?

          • Roadstergal

            I would like to see her data on how C-sections ‘jeopardize the life of the baby.’

          • Daleth

            Exactly, Roadstergal. Whatever she posts (if anything), I’ll respond with this:

            “Cesarean section on request at 39 weeks: impact on shoulder dystocia, fetal trauma, neonatal encephalopathy, and intrauterine fetal demise”
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17011400

            Here’s just one of the bad outcomes it looked at: “infants born to nonlaboring women delivered by cesarean section had an 83% reduction in the occurrence of moderate or severe encephalopathy. Considering a prevalence of moderate or severe neonatal encephalopathy of 0.38% and applying it to the 3 million deliveries occurring at >or=39 weeks EGA in the United States annually, 11,400 cases of moderate to severe encephalopathy would occur. The rate of encephalopathy observed in infants delivered by cesarean section would yield approximately 1938 cases. This net difference in moderate to severe encephalopathy would represent 9462 cases annually in the United States that could be prevented with elective cesarean section.”

          • Roadstergal

            I can’t add anything other than to repeat the conclusion, which is so nice:
            “It is reasonable to inform the pregnant woman of the risk of each of the above categories, in addition to counseling her regarding the potential risks of a cesarean section for the current and any subsequent pregnancies. The clinician’s role should be to provide the best evidence-based counseling possible to the pregnant woman and to respect her autonomy and decision-making capabilities when considering route of delivery.”

            But the NCB crowd doesn’t want women given the full risk/benefit profile of VB vs CS, and they don’t respect women’s decision-making capabilities. Especially when it comes to pain relief.

          • Daleth

            You’ve hit the nail on the head. The NCB crowd does not want to tell women that vaginal delivery carries any risks. Even my doctors wouldn’t tell me the risks, and dismissed the possible risks I had read about and raised myself. As one doctor explained, they are legally required to tell us about the risks of c-section, because that’s a procedure they perform on us, but they’re not obligated to tell us about the risks of vaginal delivery because that’s something that happens (or tries to happen) with or without them.

          • Surely you aren’t trying to suggest to me that hospital birth is as dangerous as home birth.

          • Linda King

            there are reasons why some states have elective midwife licensing. for example, if a person lives in an Amish community and she is the midwife for her town but doesn’t have a formal license, then she won’t be thrown in jail by helping assist a woman in labor. most states require that midwives clearly explain to clients that they are or are not licensed.

          • Linda King

            if the woman is low-risk, has good birth history, and a well trained midwife, that has attended many births, I support home-birth, any day! people don’t understand natural birth and the safety monitoring equipment that they carry with them to every birth. most people say what they do because of their own negative/scary experiences. I feel that if they were to attend a home-birth they would not feel negatively about it. They would see how birth is safe and uncomplicated the majority of cases.

          • Harbinger of Reason

            I could see that. I would probably be ok to leave it up to the mother if she is considered low risk. Rather than have the law dictate what she can or can’t do. Individual liberty as I see it, is not standing in the way of what some wants to with their own body even if you disagree.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            No one has ever said that women don’t have the right to do whatever they want in terms of birth. However, the focus is on whether they are being provided accurate information regarding the risks of those choices.

            Those risks are real, in contrast to those who assert they aren’t. As long as you have people running around claiming that homebirth is just as safe as a hospital, there is going to be a problem. Homebirth is not (the results bear it out) as safe as a hospital, which is not surprising when you think about it because there is basically no way it CAN be. There are going to be things that happen in homebirth that can’t be dealt with that would be in a hospital setting. There is almost nothing in reverse.

          • Harbinger of Reason

            I agree. It just seemed like the debate around this show was that these mothers should not be allowed to do this. From what I saw, they were medically cleared and seemed somewhat educated on their choice. They were deciding between home births and outdoor “natural births” and the ones on the show obviously chose natural. However they do seem to be overly skeptical of what they called unnecessary hospital interventions and its mostly negative outcomes (their words). I think if they just stuck to talking about their desire to have a birth where they wanted after being medically cleared, it would be better than trying to demonize hospital births.

  • AmyH

    My mind goes to southern Mexico (I believe it was Oaxaca) where someone just happened to be on hand and photograph the birth of an indigenous woman who was turned away from a hospital – theoretically because she wasn’t far enough along, and they told her to go walk around a while longer. She ended up giving birth on the lawn while her husband was begging the nurse to let her into the hospital. (Of course the real reason was that they were poor.)

    The photograph got a lot of attention, but the real challenge was to make us understand that this is a regular occurrence when no one was around to take pictures. Of course an investigation was promised.

  • Grub

    OMG this is a horrible, pointless, revolting, disgusting show to reward women for making private moments public just because they want more than 15 minutes of fame and to parlay what should be the most private moments into public spectacles, like “The Great Race to Give Birth in the Bush,” “Survivor in Borneo:Will the Head Shrinkers Steal My Newborn Infant?” or “Monsters Inside Me I’ll Scream and Groan and Go Savage in the Swamp Where Gators or Giant Catfish Try to Eat My Placenta.” This is just gross-out for the sake of gross-out. The only strength, conviction, achievement here is that some women will do anything to get on a TV show. I do not find childbirth a gross, disgusting, or repulsive event. I find this whole give birth on camera as if I were a cave woman idea to be gross, disgusting, and repulsive, designed for a prurient interest from an audience who watch stuff like this because they love to be grossed out. It appeals to the lowest form of voyeurism and is the natural companion to snuff films. These women all want to be on the Today Show and Anderson Cooper. They hope they get their own talk shows.

    • Linda King

      I think the reason that most of the woman went on the show is to help other people see the beauty of birth and how the outdoor-home-birth option can have good outcomes.

      • Who?

        Didn’t they have full medical teams standing just out of shot in case things weren’t quite so perfect? Not many parents who choose to homebirth could have that even if they wanted it, and why would it be needed if what they are doing is safe?

        • Linda King

          could it be possible that a few of the woman are actually getting closer to the hospital by birthing in the location that they chose? yes. Every woman but one chose to have a Midwife that was trained to identify complications if they arose. Midwives don’t like to wait too long if they feel they need to transfer. If the midwife and mother felt that they needed to go to the hospital they would have. Even in a birth center setting they want to have an ambulance for back up in case of a transfer. Hospitals try to keep OR teams on call, but that doesn’t mean the hospital birth is risky, right?. A fair amount of woman who have home births or birth center births consider how long it would take for an ambulance to get there. for all three locations the low-risk birth tends to have good outcomes.

      • Daleth

        No one is saying home births or “outdoor-home births” (whatever that is) CANNOT have good outcomes. Of course they can. However, they are much more likely than hospital births or birthing-center births to have terrible outcomes. THAT is the problem.

  • Krista

    I was talking to a friend yesterday about Kangu, a nonprofit crowdfunding organization that helps pregnant women in the third world get professional medical care they otherwise couldn’t afford, like prenatal care, emergency services, and a doctor or trained birth assistant to deliver the baby in a hospital. She looked at me with this blank stare and asked “Well, why would they need that?” This person genuinely thought that moms in the African bush were better off and safer having their babies in their mud huts, and that they didn’t want Western medicine or doctors or hospitals. It took a second for the shock to wear off, but once it did, I explained to her how and why millions of women and babies are dead because of no hospital/doctor/prenatal care. Some people.

    • JFC.

      So many families in Africa are willing to brave being murdered, raped, or even sold off as slaves, to make the long journeys to crowded and underfunded hospitals. They struggle, and the fact that people don’t understand that…? It boggles the mind.

  • J. R. R. Tokin

    I feel like this is really related.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Y-hfG-6OFA

  • Monica

    This essay is spot on. I have always thought that the “home birth” movement smacked of elitism. I live in a very rural area along the TX/MX border. We have an interesting combination of immigrant families and well-heeled Texans looking for a taste of the frontier lifestyle. Our major metropolitan area is 3 hours away. Our local hospital is still a half hour drive at least from surrounding towns. Yet, women still choose home births with no hospital nearby, it’s insane. This happens while, just down the road, women will risk crossing an international border illegally so they can have their babies in a clean hospital. It’s mind boggling. We’re not talking huge border towns like most people think of, we’re talking about villages without running water, let alone proper medical facilities. This isn’t about having a baby in the United States, it’s about having a baby in a hospital.

  • sdsures

    “The only surprise is that it took this long.”

    I know, right??

    “…that birth is so deeply personal and “sexual” that a couple must experience it alone (really, then why are you broadcasting it for all the world to see?)”

    Yeah, erm, have they explained the logic behind that yet? SMH

    • Linda King

      I feel the reason that most of the woman went on the show is to help other people see the beauty of birth and how the outdoor-home-birth option can have good outcomes.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Lots of things “can have good outcomes.”

        Let me tell you a story about some guys who used to play on the little league team I coached.

        When they were in high school, they went out for a joy ride in the car late one night. There is a very famous intersection in our area where the road comes to a T. There is a deep gully that runs behind the “cross bar” of that T, that is about 10 feet wide, with a field on the other side. They thought it would be fun to try to jump over that gully in their car, so they came speeding down the road, hit the T and, bam! Made it! They jumped the gully! It was so much fun, they went to do it again.

        This time, they didn’t make it. Smashed head-on into the bank. Two of them killed, and the other survived (that’s how we know they did it twice).

        Now, if you use them as your example, you can see that jumping that ravine “can have good outcomes.” It apparently was exhilarating. It was also a really, really stupid and dangerous thing to do.

        “Can have good outcomes” is a ridiculously low bar to set in terms of risking your life and that of your baby.

      • Roadstergal

        Driving drunk can have good outcomes. It actually has good outcomes (getting where you want to go without injury or arrest) far more often than not. The question is not whether something can have good outcomes, but whether it has better outcomes than the alternative. And the data on homebirth is clear.

  • Rita Rippetoe

    I just ran across this sentence in _A Slip of the Typewriter_ by Sir Terry Pratchett, well known fantasy writer. It is from “Paperback Writer” an essay on writing published in 2003. “”People are magnificent research, almost the best there is. . . . An old lady is happy to talk about life as a midwife in the 1930s, a long way from any doctor, while your blood runs cold.”

    • Melissa Wickersham

      Terry Pratchett was a wise man. The world misses him very much.

      • shay simmons

        And funny as hell.

  • anonymous

    It looks to me like they’re doing this “crossing over” style where they are going to edit the hell out of the video to make it somehow look safe or painless. We’ll never see the disasters, airlifts, deaths, etc.

  • lawyer jane

    Fantastic essay. 1 in 15 in Chad … so shocking! What is the main cause of death? Does it have to do with very young mothers, infection, obstructed labor?

    • Nick Sanders

      I’m going to go out on a limb and say “yes”.

    • attitude devant

      Hemorrhage.

    • fiftyfifty1

      I don’t know for sure, but would guess that postpartum hemorrhage would be a big, if not the biggest one. Women may be going into labor already with some underlying anemia due to lack of testing and treatment during pregnancy. And almost all women deliver vaginally even if it goes on for days. Prolonged labor is a huge risk for PPH. So is being a grandmultip. So is a physiologic (i.e. natural, unmanaged) 3rd stage.

      • Linda King

        the women on the show have prenatal care with testing done before hand just like any mother in the doctors office would. Midwives are well antiquated with complications have have ways to help women, even medication they carry with them.

        • SporkParade

          “Midwives are well antiquated.” Good Freudian slip there. 🙂 And it depends on what kind of midwife they are, real midwives or lay midwives. Most homebirth midwives are lay midwives, meaning that they are not authorized to administer medications (unless you are counting ineffective, dangerous herbal remedies, like blue cohosh, as medications).

          • Linda King

            The trend is changing and lots of states don’t allow lay midwives. and they are acquainted with how to handle complications. so to say that the woman on the show don’t have those options of antibiotics and pitocin, and monitoring would be inaccurate.

          • Poogles

            “lots of states don’t allow lay midwives.”

            Just FYI, most commenters here include CPMs under the “lay midwife” umbrella because they are not properly trained, so any state that allows CPMs allows “lay” midwives. Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Midwives (which only exist in a few states in the US) are the only “real” midwives in the US.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Not that Chad is some sort of ideal haven, you understand, but their president and the military are actively fighting Boko Haram and other less-than-savory groups, and generally keep a (somewhat edgy) peace within their borders. As such, they have a massive refugee population, because refugees quite understandably flee to a country whose president won’t tolerate massacres and the like within his borders and has the military power to back that up. Those refugees, aside from being quite literally the poorest of the poor, come with all the health issues you might expect from both living in rural, impoverished, third-world Africa AND fleeing from some very nasty regimes/terrorist organizations. N’djamena has a decent (far from awesome, but decent) hospital now thanks to oil money, but much of the rest of the country has little or no medical resources at all.
      Chad is also still recovering from a pretty violent and miserable not-so-distant past. It says a lot that the current president had as one of his sweeping reforms the abolishment of child soldiers. *shudder* Which is great as such…but it just gives you an idea of how far there is to go.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Chad has a 2.5% prevalence of HIV as well. Not as high as some countries, but not low. That doesn’t help the maternal mortality rate.

      Didn’t Afghanistan at one point have a 1 in 6 lifetime matenal mortality rate?

    • Guestll

      PPH, sepsis is next.

      • Linda King

        Don’t you think that just like Doctors in hospitals that midwives know how to handle these complications? don’t you know that they carry medications to prevent hemorrhage?

        • SporkParade

          1. Ability to recognize a complication doesn’t mean that you have the resources to treat the complication. When most people in a country live hours or even days from the nearest hospital, how accessible do you think Pitocin and antibiotics are? 2. They certainly do not have the equipment, such as fetal monitoring, to identify complications before they turn into emergencies. 3. Most of the midwives in these countries do not have medical training. They are either traditional birth attendants (better than nothing, but not great) or women who have given birth several times before.

          • Linda King

            It is a good idea to interview the home birth midwife before hand. Certified Midwives, have pitocin, and antibiotics. That is how they can treat a postpartum hemorrhage (pitocin) and a group B strep client with antibiotics before birth. Midwives can use their Doppler to monitor the fetal heart rate just like a hospital fetal monitor would. They can see the trending heart rate and how it reacts to the strength of contractions. Midwives are well trained to transfer well before an complication turns into an emergency. there are Certified Nurse Midwives, that do home-births as well as Certified Professional Midwives. There are even a few Doctors that do home births. The UK and the Netherlands both have more midwives than the USA and encourage low-risk woman to birth at home. As for the lay midwife, quite a few states have their clients sign a form or require that those midwives inform their client of their “non-medical” background and some woman still chose them. Which is their choice. If they don’t tell you or other moms how to give birth than I feel we should respect them in how they wish to give birth. It does vary state to state though but to assume that all states are like the one in which you live is not accurate.

          • Roadstergal

            “The UK and the Netherlands both have more midwives than the USA and encourage low-risk woman to birth at home”

            Given that the midwives in the Netherlands have worse outcomes caring for low-risk women than OBs there have caring for high-risk women, don’t you think this rather argues against your thesis?

          • Poogles

            “Midwives can use their Doppler to monitor the fetal heart rate just like a hospital fetal monitor would. ”

            A dopplar is not just as good as EFM, not even close:
            http://www.skepticalob.com/2011/06/electronic-fetal-monitoring-gives-much.html

            “Midwives are well trained to transfer well before an complication turns into an emergency.”

            This has, unfortunately, been proven not to be the case for hb midwife after hb midwife. Just one such story is the birth and death of Gavin Michael – the midwives knew that the mother has ZERO amniotic fluid left, yet did not transfer and in fact lied to the mother about the risks so the mother would not request transfer. See the Hurt By Homebirth blog for more stories of complications and emergencies not being handled in a timely manner by hb midwives.

  • Francesca Violi

    Oh my, the “hollow pumpkins for buoyancy” detail in the Indian woman’s report is just heartbreaking.When I think that the couples of that TV show decide to give birth in the wild just for kicks and nevertheless will have helicopter, ambulance and emergency medical equipment available with no effort, it makes me want to scream.

    • Guest

      One 40-year-old woman in labor walked 8 hours through “corpse-filled
      water and waist-high water” during typhoon Haiyan in the
      Philippines in order to give birth at a hospital.
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/16/babies-typhoon-haiyan-hospital_n_4289046.html

    • Linda King

      I believe the reason that most of the woman went on the show is to help other people see the beauty of birth and how the outdoor-home-birth option can have good outcomes.

      • Francesca Violi

        Exactly, they do it only tho show something to other people. But we don’t need to be shown that “the outdoor-home-birth option can have good outcomes”: we know it “can”,only, “can” doesn’t mean it “will”. As for the beauty, to turn your child’s birth into a show, to live such a personal experience totally exposed in front of stranger cameramen and technicians, with the extra silliness of pretending you are actually in the wild … what is the beauty in this?

        • Linda King

          Since they were going to have this type of birth regardless of the show. They were simply inviting all of us to see what it was like. Which I find it a privilege because when else do we get to see this type of birth? it is something to be learned from. There is beauty in any situation that if one wishes to see it. the outdoor scenery sounds like a beautiful option with the midwife and her monitoring abilities right there for safety.

          • Poogles

            “There is beauty in any situation that if one wishes to see it.”

            So why do so many mothers feel they have to add all these props (candles, pools, etc.) and backgrounds (outdoors, creating a “birthing room” in their home) to make their birth “beautiful”? A birth that results in healthy, living mom and baby is already full of potential beauty – all this extra fluff is unnecessary, I think.

  • Gretta

    It’s so awful and so tone deaf and almost…. Mean? Why not use this platform to tell the real stories of real mothers who risk their own lives every time they give birth due to lack of care? Why not use this platform to raise awareness and provide help to mothers who have so little?

    • Allie P

      Because you can’t cut and paste without investing real time and money to get to places that are ACTUALLY dangerous (remote jungles, etc.) and embedding for a long time. Versus putting out a call to crazies on the internet and catching a flight to Juno so someone can perform a stunt.

    • Mac Sherbert

      Right. I know a missionary lady who does lots of work in Africa. She was showing me pictures of a lady and telling how wonderful this lady was, etc. As the story moved on it became apparent that this woman had died. When asked what happen…The woman died giving birth. She bleed to death in the back of a car as her husband frantically tried to get her somewhere for medical care. Why not bring attention to these women who need access to real medical care?

      • Medwife

        Have you read “Monique and the Mango Rains”? Extremely worth reading if you are interested in global maternal health.

    • Krista

      Go fund a safe birth (or two, or three) at kangu.org! I’m having a baby shower and asking all my guests to donate $10 to a specific woman who’s due date is close to mine. Its very easy and tax-deductible!

  • MaineJen

    I’m horrified that this show made it to air. You can bet that if any of those women have less than perfect outcomes, they will not be shown. Shame on Lifetime.

    • This is the same station that allowed Dance Moms. :/

    • Samantha06

      Wasn’t there a Change.org petition to stop some Alaskan hunting show? I think that was a NatGeo thing, but apparently it worked. I don’t think the show ever aired.

    • Linda King

      Lifetime isn’t about to make something more dangerous than it is. If there were any complications during the pregnancy then the woman is advised to get medical/hospital care. The majority of all low-risk births do turn out well. and the show does show how midwives handle the complications that do come up…Which if feel is commendable.

  • It’s not born in the wild unless your husband is fighting off a spear: hyenas, grizzly bears, wolves, or mudslides.

    It’s also worth noting that this is different from those poor, ignorant women in third world countries because they haven’t been educated by literally tens of hours of research on parenting forums, and also don’t realize that all you have to do is breathe deeply and put on your hypnobirthing cd. It’s totes easy you gais.

    • Nick Sanders

      I would pay good money to see someone fight off a mudslide with a spear.

      • They’re saving it for season 2. Also, catchin’ babies in a shark cage!

        • SporkParade

          Dang, I was thinking maternal request C-section for my next baby, but I may have to switch to “shark cage.”

          • Roadstergal

            Makes cutting the cord so much easier.

          • sdsures

            It’s CHUM TIME!

      • Box of Salt

        Nick Sanders “fight off a mudslide with a spear.”

        I have an eight year old who would do that for you. There won’t be any babies involved, however – just lots of spear waving.

        And yes, payment will be requested, but ice cream or slurpies are accepted.

        • demodocus’ spouse

          I think my 1yo is offering to help; he’s currently waving the broom in a spear-like way

        • Mel

          My husband and I are making spears right now. Ofc, we live in the lower portion of Michigan where the last mudslide probably marked the retreat of the glaciers…but we’re prepared!

      • Frito Pendejo

        Maybe you use the spear to kill a goat to sacrifice to the mudslide deity?

    • Trixie

      I remember watching a filmstrip in high school on some San hunters in the Kalahari tracking and ultimately killing a giraffe with only spears and maybe darts (my memory is fuzzy on the particulars). They tracked it for days and days, no one in the tribe had had enough protein for a long time, including the pregnant and lactating women…finally they bring the giraffe down, at close range, at great personal risk, then butcher it and begin drying the meat, while someone goes back and summons everyone else to come carry the meat back, but meanwhile they have to guard the meat from other scavengers the whole time, etc. At the end of class, the girl next to me said, with tears in her eyes, “oh my god, the poor giraffe!” and then went to the cafeteria and ate a ham sandwich.

      • That’s amazing, giraffes are extraordinarily powerful. See, that’s a birth story we should be watching on tv.

        “Oh, you gave birth in a heated pool inside a climate controlled house while well nourished? That’s cute. When I didn’t have enough sustenance, my husband killed a giraffe with sharp sticks and sheer force of will. Yeah. Bye Felicia.”

        • sdsures

          Yeah, giraffe babies fall HOW far from the vagina at the moment of birth when they hit the ground?? Badass babies!

    • Laura

      Don’t forget the perfect nutrition that’s supposed to guarantee the optimal outcome!

    • sdsures

      Oh noes, your husband is making you a cappuccino in the woods by the flowing river!

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    Media Life Magazine review:

    http://www.medialifemagazine.com/born-in-the-wild-loud-messy-staged/

    “When the waters in the lake rise, the intended birthing tent is flooded. A hastily set-up replacement is soon swarmed by mosquitoes.

    Average idiots would conclude that nature is trying to tell them to at least move the birth into the house, but Peter and Audrey aren’t average idiots. They decide to continue the process in the tent.”

    • Amy M

      It may be a spoiler to say that the baby is born healthy, but since the people behind “Born in the Wild” are at least complicit in the couples’ decision to put their child at risk, one assumes that the camera crew is accompanied by a backup medical team and some means of evacuation. So the risk is probably very small.

      –from the same review

      • Mel

        From the same review:

        For example, when the family’s dogs start barking wildly, Peter heads out into the woods with a gun, saying they’re probably barking at a bear.

        “There’s gonna be a lot of blood in the air,” he tells the camera. “A bear can smell it from a very long distance.” Even though no bear is seen, visions of claws ripping through the tent fabric dance in our heads.”
        I’d be scared of bears that can smell future blood in the air, too. Psychic bears are scary. 🙁

        • Amy M

          I wonder if they told Peter to say this stuff, or he was already batshiat crazy and that’s how he and his wife got on the show to begin with?

          • Nick Sanders
          • Jerika

            I just watched it… they are legit bat shit. a 2 hour plane ride from a hospital…. her mom came in for the shit show and you could tell she thought they were bat shit too. They had their baby in a mosquito infested tent that ranger Peter built all by himself.

          • Linda King

            why such hateful words?

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Because women are risking their children’s lives to feed their own narcissism.

          • Linda King

            There was about 2 weeks of filming being edited into 45 min. there are going to be inaccuracies. could reality TV shows be scripted or at lest ask lead in questions? yes. I am sure if they really felt like a bear was going to get them they would not have had their baby there.. drama is made.

    • Linda King

      You do know that there was probably 2 weeks of filming put into 45 min right? and everything we see is not going to be as accurate? who really knows how long they had to repair the tent.. maybe it wan’t hasty at all. maybe it was weeks…

  • Amy Tuteur, MD
  • Liz Leyden

    Lifetime, Television for Victims, is getting on the homebirth bandwagon?

    I have to wonder how many homebirth advocates have seen The Killing Fields, particularly the scene where Hang Ngor’s wife gives birth in a Kmehr Rouge labor camp? The Kmehr Rouge tried to return Cambodia to its glory days, during the medieval period. The natural, vaginal, nonmedical, out-of-hospital birth ends with a dead mother and dead baby.

    “Homebirth advocates like to imagine that women in nature, particularly women of color, did not fear childbirth, simply squatted down by the Congo River to give birth, and immediately returned to their fabulously healthy paleo lifestyle.”

    I read an interview with an African woman who did just that. She was a former slave from Yemen who was tending sheep when she gave birth. The baby was fine, but that doesn’t mean it’s something to be emulated or copied.

    • Smoochagator

      What it means is that she was very lucky.

      Also, I love the tagline, “Television for victims.” I remember several of my teenage girlfriends becoming despondent and suicidal after watching a week-long Lifetime movie marathon.

      • Nick Sanders

        It wouldn’t take me a week…

      • Cobalt

        I’ve never heard the “television for victims” line, but I have heard it called the “suicide channel”.

    • Mishimoo

      One of the ladies at the church my best friend attends is a refugee. She, with her older children, walked out of their country to get to safety. On their long walk, she squatted down and birthed two beautiful twins. To make sure that her older children had a chance, she had to abandon those two babies. Sure, she had a ‘natural’ vaginal birth in the fresh air and so on, but she would have done anything to be in the comfort of a hospital and to have been able to keep those babies.

      • Trixie

        Oh my god, that’s horrible.

        • Mishimoo

          I tear up every time I think of it, it’s heartbreaking just hearing about it. What an amazingly strong woman!
          Sadly, it’s the reality for women in some countries and I wish people would stop ignoring the harsh parts in favour of attempting to achieve some meaningless goal.

          • SilverHazel

            A refugee here in the states? What country was she getting out of? I’d hate to have to choose between my children.

          • Mishimoo

            I’m in Australia – If I recall correctly: she was fleeing a genocide in Congo, ended up living in refugee camps, and managed to bring her family over here.

  • Amy M

    Yeah–I mean, I get why they are doing this (publicity, money), but why call it “born in the wild” when it isn’t? Everyone knows those “reality” shows are anything but, but if they aren’t going to drop mom off by the Amazon, and come back in a day or two, then what’s the point? What, exactly, are they trying to achieve? How many people will this really reach—the amount of publicity and money must be limited. Are they trying to convince women that they don’t have to give birth in a hospital? I’m pretty sure that most women WANT to give birth in a hospital, so this sort of thing isn’t going to change too many minds. Anyway, maybe they should have called it “Rogue Birth” or “Rebels Without a Clue” or “And Now For Something Completely Archaic.”

    • Young CC Prof

      I imagine most of their audience will be of the “look at this train wreck” persuasion rather than the “Oh how awesomely natural!” crowd.

      • Mel

        Yeah, but this is a train wreck too far for me. I like my train wrecks to involve only adults who at the end of the day walk away without any long term damage.

    • Linda King

      I’m pretty sure the reason that most of the woman went on the show is to help other people see the beauty of birth and how the outdoor-home-birth option can have good outcomes.

  • crewbie08

    I cant figure out how natural and in the wild a heated birthing tub is?

    • MLE

      There are plenty of natural hot springs on Earth. You’d think there would be traditions among peoples in those areas giving birth in them.

  • CanDoc

    1) Awesome
    2) I’ve always commented as “guest” with username CanDoc because I don’t want a discus account. This has changed? I can no longer “up vote” a comment that I like without signing in!

    • Jocelyn

      Same thing’s happening to me. Can’t up vote a comment without signing in.

    • Who?

      Same for me. Please don’t make me get a discus account…

  • Trixie

    Excellent post. I’ve noticed that several of the women featured on this show have been mass-joining birth-related Facebook groups in order to promote themselves and the show.

    • Linda King

      or maybe they already belong to the birth groups?

  • jhr

    Born in the Wild is the “perfect storm” nexus of performance art, historical reenactment, extreme sport, and narcissistic self-delusion. How can protecting the life and welfare of a baby stack-up against such an alliance?

  • Bugsy

    Completely off-topic:

    Jimmy Kimmel on the anti-vaccine movement: http://youtu.be/QgpfNScEd3M

    Hysterical!

    • Samantha06

      I love the doctors.. “Get your G-damn kids vaccinated!” ROFL!

    • Lisa C

      This would be funnier if the issue wasn’t so serious. All you have to do is troll on over to the babycenter board “None/Select/Delayed Vaccinations” to really see the level of ignorance about vaccines. My favorite (today) is from a post called “Why this is all so ridiculous” the original poster says that superbugs caused by over use of antibiotics killed 29,000 people in one year and “Measles kills no one since forever”. Apparently, to the original poster, people outside of the US don’t count since according to the CDC 146,000 people die of measles each year worldwide (http://www.cdc.gov/measles/vaccination.html). Not one subsequent poster pointed out that measles does actual kill people and the second to last post (as of this writing) says that the “fact that people are so worked up over the measles shows how brain washed people get from the media (who lies all the time) and how little common sense people in this Country have. It’s sad”. It is sad. Just not for the reason she thinks.

      http://community.babycenter.com/post/a55538083/why_this_is_all_so_ridiculous

      • Bugsy

        Wow. As soon as I saw “measles kills no one since forever,” I surmised that she doesn’t have a PhD in epidemiology (or anything, for that matter)…

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

          Yes , apparently the nearly 150,000 people who died of measles last year don’t count because they are not in the US. The utter cluelessness of WHY people in the United States do not get/die of the measles, mumps, German measles, diptheria, whooping cough and tetanus anymore completely eludes them…vaccines! arrgghh these people want to bring back the “good old days” which mostly sucked…

      • Roadstergal

        This seems to be a new meme – conflating vaccines with antibiotics, and implying that ‘overuse’ of vaccines (herd immunity levels, I guess) is exactly like overuse of antibiotics. I first came across it when Bill fucking Maher (as an SBM-loving atheist, it’s the only way I can bring myself to say his name anymore) recently used it on Real Time.

      • Young CC Prof

        Also, misunderstanding of “superbug.” A “superbug” is not inherently deadlier than the germs running around 100 years ago, it’s just harder (sometimes impossible) to cure with antibiotics. Hygiene can still prevent these infections, supportive care can still help people recover.

        But admitting that would require admitting that ordinary bacterial infections like strep or staph used to kill healthy children and young adults all the time, and hence that nature doesn’t love them.

        • fiftyfifty1

          Exactly! The so-called “superbugs” are in no way deadlier than the bugs of yore*. It’s just that these bugs can no longer be treated with antibiotics. Which puts us back in a situation not one bit worse than where we were before we had antibiotics. Where the hale and hearty could LITERALLY die of a papercut if it happened to get infected.

          *Actually “superbugs” almost always tend to be LESS deadly than the germs of 100 years ago. Turns out it takes up a lot of energy to be an antibiotic-resistant germ. The antibiotic resistance doesn’t happen magically, but requires energy-sapping structural modifications like cellular sump pumps that frantically pump the antibiotic out as soon as it comes in, or production of special costly enzymes that find the antibiotics and chop them up before they can work. Because the bacteria are devoting a lot of energy to these defense mechanisms, they tend to be weaker and slower-spreading than normal non-resistant bacteria.

  • Karen in SC

    According to the commercials it’s not even “in the wild”. The parents are in a cabin, with an attendant.

    I also noted that the mother was pushing in the dreaded semi-reclined position!! But it’s fine since she’s not in the hospital. In the hospital, it would be said she was forced to deliver while laying down!!

    • Samantha06

      The one that was done a while back with the moron delivering in the “babbling brook” had to “recline” because she couldn’t handle squatting or standing, then had her partner/husband/sperm donor actually deliver the baby! Such a lovely site, complete with a large horse fly landing on the baby’s head.. and no one brushed it off.. I guess that was part of “nature”…..

      • Amy M

        MMMMMMmmmmmm…….typhoid

        • momofone

          She’ll just breastfeed it away, no problem!

        • Samantha06

          Gross!

    • Linda King

      Not all woman gave birth in that position on the show.

  • demodocus’ spouse

    There is just so much wrong with this stupid show. Real wild with big predators is *not* someplace you want to have your baby; why do they think so many prey animals can run within hours of birth? Mild wild like Acadia National Park in Maine may not have animals you have to worry about bigger than black flies, but bugs and leaf matter and whatnot are all over the place. Humans the world over give birth in shelters, and with the best help available. Unless you’re privileged nutter who thinks giving birth is the same as having sex or some such nonsense.
    (as an aside, If you think birth is sexual, what if you don’t feel like giving birth today but the baby is coming anyway, would that mean a sexual assault was taking place? (The sensible answer is, of course, what kind of bloody idiot thinks giving birth is erotic?))

    • Bombshellrisa

      There is a commenter who pops in every so often ( to other boards as well) and talks about giving birth as a “sexual act” and signs her posts addressed to Dr Amy “hugs and kisses”.
      You just put a whole new spin on the term birth rape

      • demodocus’ spouse

        I’ve read some of her comments. Not too tightly wrapped, is she. Besides, is she sexually harassing Dr Amy with those hugs and kisses?

    • Linda King

      surely you have not attended too many births yourself. There are many woman who do view birth in the way of a private, and sometimes sexual event. On another note, if the couple really thought that a bear was going to get them, they would not have had their baby there. bears are not stupid either, if a woman is yelling and there are multiple people around they are not going to come see what’s happening for the fun of it.

      • demodocus’ spouse

        Real wild births wouldn’t have camera crews or production personel (sp?), either. Nor, if you consider birth to be private, would you want to broadcast it on television. If it’s sexual and in public, then you’re an exhibitionist, which my culture frowns on. Are having orgasms in public appropriate in yours?
        No, I’ve only been involved in 2, my son’s and my own. But so what? That’s why I went to a professional who studied this for most of a decade before he even got his MD, and then practiced for years, and knows what to do if the crap hits the fan. One only needs to read a lot to have something to say on the comments section of a blog. If you want real medical knowledge, ask one of our docs here, or better yet, ask a doc who knows you and your history.

      • Amy Tuteur, MD

        Ina May Gaskin insists that birth is sexual and her writings on her own midwifery practice veer very close to sexual abuse:

        http://www.skepticalob.com/2013/06/would-you-hire-this-midwife.html

  • Kq

    Lifetime: doing their darnedest to lower the bar to TLC levels.

    • demodocus’ spouse

      Was Lifetime ever good?

      • Bombshellrisa

        They used to show reruns of “The Golden Girls”, helped me relax in the morning when I got home from work

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        It was if you were a fan of Melissa Gilbert and/or Judith Light.

        • Kq

          And Meredith Baxter (with or without the Burney, she’s done a lot of flicks)

      • just me

        Love me some Dance Moms…

  • Montserrat Blanco

    I totally understand Yellavva. I am so happy she and her baby are doing well!

  • jenny

    I remember reading about this family last fall. Here is an update: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-29009235 Mom and baby were healthy. The baby was 8.8 lbs! The hospital decided to waive the fee.

    • slandy09

      Now *that* is a warrior mom.

  • Young CC Prof

    Indeed. That chart clearly shows that there are still places in the world where everyone knows someone who died in childbirth. Can you imagine what that must be like, to face birth with the real chance of death in front of you? Remembering a friend, an aunt, a mother or sister who died that way?

    • Rosalind Dalefield

      Well I am missing an uncle because my grandmother lived on a fairly remote farm in New Zealand and had pre-eclampsia during her first pregnancy. The baby was stillborn. It had longterm effects on the family because my grandmother then suffered from a great deal of depression and so my mother was shipped off to boarding school at an early age. Probably as a result, my mother developed personality problems that have blighted my life and the lives of two sisters.

  • To think that 3-9 fold increase is in the context of having hospital resources relatively accessible. It is a slap in the face – not just to brown/black women who are deprived of ready access to safe birth across the globe, but also to the women who live with the consequences of birth gone wrong in North America. The day in day out lives of those families impacted by birth injury or loss – the slap in the face to willfully increase the risk of that happening. It is like knowing people who have lost loved ones to drunk driving and despite having more than enough money for a cab – insisting on driving while intoxicated.

    • Linda King

      If these woman are low-risk in the first place and things are projected to go well, what makes you think that they are increasing the risk by simply having it outside?

      • demodocus’ spouse

        at the very least, you’re more likely to be bit by a mosquito or a black fly if you’re outside.