I'm hardly the first to point out that on-screen birth bears little resemblance to real life. Literally anyone who's ever had a baby can tell you that. Mostly it's a good thing, or at least a neutral thing, but there are, certainly, times I wish labor and delivery was like the movies.
A few movies get aspects of it right, but I don't think I've ever seen a movie that gets everything completely right. Even documentaries have to edit, which has an effect on the level of truth we are exposed to. And yet childbirth scenes are remarkably common on screen, which makes sense. It's a primal experience, it's something all of us can connect to in some way (even if you're not a parent, I'm going to go out on a limb and say you were born), and, I'm guessing, mostly male writers can't think of another way to create a transformative storyline for female characters.
As a result of this prevalent misinformation, when our time comes we're often thrown for a loop. Like, "Wait, how come everyone is so calm?" or, "Where's the part where I can't stop screaming at my partner?' or, "Why has no one fainted yet? When is someone going to faint?!" And, of course, some of what we see is far easier, rosier, and prettier than anything we'll personally go through.
When Your Water Breaks *Once*
Here's something that I have in common with movie births: in both instances, my water broke and labor started. Despite the fact that this is pretty much the only depiction of labor we see on screen, it's actually fairly rare — rupturing of the amniotic sac before labor begins only happens in about 10 percent of pregnant women.
But here's what filmmakers get wrong: in movies, this incident is just a big gush of water and then, boom, that's it. You're done. Your water has been broken. What they don't so much as hint at is the fact that you keep leaking fluid until the baby pops out. After the baby pops out you leak a whole lot of other stuff, but I'm totally OK with movies leaving that nightmare off-screen. If you're ever curious, just watch the elevator scene in The Shining, that's as close as a film has gotten so far.
When There's No Check-In
In movies, expectant mothers (usually with partner in tow) manically jet off to the hospital right away (inaccurate) and are immediately whisked into a delivery room. There might be a hilariously panicked front desk scene (a la Nine Months) but they skip the part where a nurse asks the woman in labor 900,000 intake questions. The first time I had to do this I'd already been in labor for more than 12 hours and was painfully contracting every two minutes. This was obviously a huge source of annoyance for my, frankly, very salty nurse.
Oh I'm sorry, Janet — is this inconvenient for you?
When Everyone Gets Scrubs
This seems to be a thing in movies, but my husband didn't even get scrubs when I had a C-section. He got this weird paper-like suit that was thrown away after delivery. He was super disappointed and, frankly, so was I. During my vaginal delivery he wore the clothes he showed up in: no special accommodations required.
When You Don't Have To Wait Around For Hours
In the movies it seems like no one labors at home at all, because labor is dramatic and insistent right away, and no one is ever left unattended — you get to the hospital and immediately begin pushing. In fact, so much of labor is just tedious waiting. You probably labor at home for a bit, then go to the hospital where you labor some more, and occasionally a nurse will come in to check on you, or your care provider will peek between your legs to check your cervix and it's like, "OMG when do I get to get this kid out of me?!"
Between two children, I have spent 27 and a half hours of my life in labor. That's, like, all the Lord of the Rings movies and the original Star Wars trilogy plus Infinity War.
When There's So Much Drama
The big thing that differentiates real labor and delivery from movie labor and delivery is the level of drama. Real labor and delivery is actually, like, super low-key. During my vaginal delivery, in-between coaching me through pushes, my midwife and nurse were chatting about the nurse's sons and stuff. It was seriously water-cooler chat, but instead of a water cooler it was my vagina.
And I'm not saying I want a ton of drama (let alone, like, the scary kind that sometimes goes along with birth scenes) but I am what one might call "extra," so a little bit of that Hollywood smoke and mirrors might have made things more interesting.
When There Are Very Few People In The Room
Movie births always seem to depict a doctor and the couple and that's it. Maybe there will be a nurse off to the side or something. But I couldn't even tell you how many people were involved in my C-section. Even my vaginal delivery apparently required three nurses, my midwife, and, for some reason, an OB-GYN in the room (though he seriously did jack). None of them did anything to bother me, but it would have been nice to have fewer people attending my hoo-ha.
When You Get To Flip Out On Everyone
"YOU DID THIS TO ME YOU SON OF A BITCH!"
"GET ME THE DRUGS!"
"GET THIS BABY OUT OF ME!"
Apparently birth turns all movie moms-to-be into the same, possessed, shrieking harpy. I was none of those things (though I do understand the instinct to some degree) and neither, as I understand it from all the moms I know, was anyone else. Yet it seems like it would have brought some catharsis and comedy to the whole situation.
When You Look Awesome
All delivery scenes show a mom grimacing in agony, but aside from light perspiration and one damp lock of hair artfully falling in her face she still looks gorgeous. You know, the whole "I'm not wearing makeup" makeup look. That would have been nice.
When The Baby Is Born 3 Months Old Or A Robot
It's always hysterical to me when a "newborn" on screen is a realistic (but obvious) robot, or an obviously older baby covered in jelly and cream cheese (no, really). And that can't and shouldn't be helped — according to Screen Actors Guild regulations, a baby must be at least 15 days old (though, in all likelihood, they'll be a bit older) and, by then, they've already changed considerably from real newborn.
It's not that I'd want to deliver a much bigger/older baby, but it would be nice to skip some of the difficulties brand new newborns present. I also think giving birth to a robot would be badass.
When The Whole Thing Takes About An Hour
It just doesn't happen like that (usually) and I really wish it did.
When You Look Amazing Immediately After Birth
Everyone, this is what a postpartum woman looks like. (Well, I mean, this is what I looked like postpartum, but the general proportions are fairly typical.) You'll notice she looks pretty similar to a pregnant woman. Things don't shrink back up immediately: that takes time, and exactly how much varies. It'd be nice to leave the hospital rocking some washboard abs, but alas, that only happens in the movies.
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