Posts Tagged ‘midwives’

Without getting too graphic I think we can safely assume that the manner in which babies are conceived is exactly the same on either side of the pond.  Unless of course, you’re having sex in the TARDIS…

Much more accurate than peeing on a stick.

If you are time traveling during intercourse, then you will be a likely candidate for that program where none of the women knew they were pregnant until they make an urgent trip to the bathroom and find they’ve delivered a full-term infant into the toilet. But that is only a very small percentage of us so let’s crack on.

In general, conception can be categorized as a human process not dictated by cultural differences. Once an embryo has been established, the British and the Americans again differ very little in regards to the order in which pregnancy progresses: mother-to-be throws up a lot, gets fat, buys baby name books, shows her ultrasound scans around, and of course every man’s favorite, the hormone induced mood swings which baffle and quite frankly frighten the father-to-be.  In addition, if you are a resident of tv land, it is required that the child be born in some unusual locale like a pub (Louisa and Doc Martin’s son) or at your father-in-law’s CBE party (Howard and Mel’s daughter on Worst Week of My Life).

Of course one can’t forget the classic frenzied rush to the hospital…

It would appear that teen pregnancy is also an Anglo-American phenomenon. As the cautionary tale, Pramface shows us, one night of drunken partying mixed with teen-age hormones can detour your life in the blink of an eye.

Clever and at times heartwarming as it can be, Pramface takes on the issues faced by teenage parents, their families and friends.  Yes, Laura is a spoiled college-bound girl looking forward to escaping her embattled, unhappy parents and Jamie is a sweet, but directionless 16-year-old boy, but together they lurch their way towards accepting their responsibilities and become friends in the process.  It may not be “reality”, but I’d take Pramface over this any day.

So if pregnancy is a fairly universal condition, what about the childbirth experience?  Here is where the two countries start to diverge. There’s still the pushing and screaming and crying, but on British television shows at least, the woman in labor is far more likely to be attended by a midwife than mothers in the US might be.

Of course I’ve done all this so I could have a reason to mention Call the Midwife. I’d heard about this show at Christmas time and was chomping at the bit wondering when we’d have the chance to see it here. (Yes, this truly is my life.) Well, those wonderful people with such good taste at PBS got it to us in less than a year from its UK broadcast date and I’m very happy to report that I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode on Sunday night.

All midwives are issued a medical bag and, you guessed it, a bike.

Set in East London in 1957, it follows new midwife, Jenny Lee through her first on-the-job experiences. She learns not only how to put her training to use but, while living and working with an order of midwife nuns, Jenny is quickly exposed to a world very different from her sheltered, more privileged upbringing.  The only thing that disappointed me about the first episode was the absence of Miranda Hart, but I’ve since seen that she will make her rather awkard entrance in next week’s episode.

Their equipment may be antiquated and perhaps a little scary, but the midwives of Nonnatus House do what women have been doing for all of human history – assisting other women in delivering their babies.  While the popularity of midwifery in the US is slowly on the rise, it’s still considered a slightly hippy-dippy, alternative medicine sort of thing.  In the UK, it appears it never went out of fashion.  British midwives deliver babies in home settings, but they also play a prominent role in hospital births, taking on the lower risk deliveries while the obstetricians concentrate on the more complex cases.  Midwives may actually visit you at home for your antenatal (prenatal, to us Yanks) care.  Most are employed by the National Health Service and there is a critical shortage of practicing midwives at the present time.  My readers in the UK, feel free to correct me if my internet research has led me astray.

I first became aware of the role of modern-day midwives by watching William and Mary.  Mary (Julie Graham) worked not only as an NHS midwife but, after butting heads with her superiors, also tried her hand at private independent midwifery as well.  I’ve found no short clips of Mary doing her thing but if you’re interested, whole episodes exist on YouTube. It’s a series worth watching, also starring Martin Clunes as an undertaker.  Did you catch the symmetry there?

So in conclusion, reproduction is universal,  pregnancy is similar in most consumer cultures, teenagers the world over can’t resist the forbidden fruit, and the professional who’s there to catch the baby at the other end of the bed may have something to do with the way you pronounce the word “aluminum”.  As a reward for reading this entire post, please enjoy this fact filled clip from the people at the UK documentary series, One Born Every Minute, another reality series we nicked from the Brits.


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