Giving birth is like producing a live television broadcast

Lights, camera, action! Have you ever thought about how labor and childbirth is kind of like live TV? I mean, you can rehearse by taking classes, reading books and surfing the web at 2 a.m. You can write a birth plan. And it can all go out the window once labor begins. There is no editing, there is no replay, it is what it is. And that’s OK.

Before I was a childbirth educator and doula, I worked in television production. The more childbirth classes I taught and births I attended made me realize how much giving birth is like live TV.

This may sound crazy, and obviously, the life-changing event of giving birth is more important than what happens during a live television broadcast and any bloopers that may arise. But there are a lot of similarities between the two.

No one — not even your doctor or midwife — can predict what will happen during labor and birth.

Planning a live television event involves scripting and lots of meetings, rehearsals and changes before the big day.

So does preparing for labor. You can write a birth plan, meet with your health care provider and doula, decide what your preferences are and change your mind.

Then it’s time for the big day. Everything is set to go a certain way after all the hard work you’ve put in getting ready for labor.

Until things change, as things sometimes do.

When it’s time for “action,” that’s it. There are no do-overs. There’s a saying in television, “We’ll fix it in post.” Well, since the only “post” with birth is postpartum, that’s not a possibility.

During a live television broadcast, actors may flub lines or miss entrances. Technical difficulties may arise. Breaking news may interrupt all of the hard work that went into planning the show.

Labor is unpredictable. You can plan till the cows come home, but what if labor needs to be induced? What if you plan a natural, drug-free delivery but need a cesarean? What if you have your heart set on getting an epidural but labor progresses quickly with no time for one?

Everyone wants the best possible outcome for moms and babies, yet the chosen journey of getting to hold a baby in her arms is different for each mom. My view is that ideally, every mother will have the birth experience she wants. However, I’m also realistic. I’ve given birth twice and have taught hundreds of couples and attended many births. The experience — and sometimes the outcome — doesn’t end up the way a mother thought it would.

Bottom line? Keep an open mind during labor. Find an awesome doctor or midwife and doula to help you and your birth partner through the process. When it’s time for “lights, camera, action!” you’ll be great.

Read more

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The truth about epidurals
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