There's a lot they don't tell you about having a baby. Everyone knows about those sleepless nights and inevitable mountains of soiled diapers, but no one really gets into everything that giving birth entails. It's never as easy as your water unexpectedly breaking and then a frantic trip to the hospital, where you have your miraculously clean and dry newborn five minutes later. Mostly, TV is to blame for the inaccuracies and these TV birthing scenes ranked from most to least accurate will give you a better idea of what to expect when you're expecting.
Some TV shows and even movies are guilty of using much older and more alert babies in place of ones that look closer to the wrinkled mess of an actual newborn. I know it's probably a lot easier to cast a five-month-old baby than a five-week-old infant, but there is nothing realistic about a swaddled five month old who can hold up their head and open their eyes wide.
The truth about birth is that it's messy, painful, and beautiful all at the same time. Even if you have a C-section, you will be faced with a scary operating room that so does not look like it came out of Grey's Anatomy. You will also need help showering and using the bathroom in the days following your procedure. Personally, it wasn't a cute look for me, but regardless of how you give birth, it can be a horror show for anyone. Most of the time, TV wants to pretty it up for viewers’ sake, but sometimes they actually get it right. So here are some famous TV birth scenes ranked in order of right-on-the-money to come-on-now.
Call The Midwife — Almost All Birth Scenes
According to PBS, all of the nurses in the BBC’s Call the Midwife use prosthetic and real infants for birth scenes and that alone gets it top billing on the list of most accurate TV births. But the different births themselves are unique and accurate in dealing with very real complications, so Call the Midwife is one of the most accurate TV shows in terms of its birth scenes.
The Affair — Alison's Labor
Although Alison didn't appear nearly as uncomfortable as I was during my weekend-long labor experience, The Affair didn’t make it a quick one scene and done birth either. Instead, she had to play the waiting game while in the hospital, like many of us do, and eventually gave birth drenched in sweat.
The Office — Pam & Jim's First Baby
While Pam waited for the arrival of her first baby with Jim, she tried to keep the labor pains at bay and prolong the birth until midnight when, as they explained, their insurance would pay for a longer hospital stay. Instead, she waited almost too long and she had to be rushed to the hospital. Luckily, however, it didn’t result in a cliché car birth. Instead, Pam went through a screaming and shouting labor that is pretty accurate to real life.
Friends — Rachel’s Long Labor
There are a lot of things Friends use to make jokes or lighten the mood and Rachel’s pregnancy and birth are two of them. But when five different women gave birth while she waited to be dilated enough to push, that wasn't totally unrealistic. I remember being legitimately jealous when I heard women in labor in other rooms while I was still waiting for my water to officially break. The one thing that isn’t so realistic about Rachel’s birth scene, however, is her toe ring. I mean, were those ever that popular?
Glee — Quinn's Showtune Birth
Although the birth of Quinn’s baby was shown more in scattered scenes than anything and to the backdrop of music (of course), the labor itself seemed pretty on the nose. Quinn, ever the popular and near perfect cheerleader, seemed like she was as in pain and as uncomfortable as any other mom-to-be, so props to Glee for making at least one thing about the series realistic.
Friends — Phoebe's Brother's Triplets
When Phoebe’s long lost brother asked her to be the surrogate for his babies, she agreed, and it was the perfect way to write Lisa Kudrow’s real life pregnancy into the show. Originally, I found it hard to believe that she would give birth vaginally to three babies, as opposed to a scheduled C-section. But according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, in a study where birth survival rates were looked at in triplets born vaginally and through C-section, vaginal delivery had higher success rates and may actually be preferred to C-section, so I stand corrected.
How I Met Your Mother — Lily’s Sweat-Free Labor
Lily seemed like she was in genuine pain during labor, so I will give How I Met Your Mother points for that. But when Marshall told her, during labor, that their son’s middle name would be "Wait For It," and she was totally on-board, mid-push, I had to roll my eyes hard. I wasn't above swearing at my husband and being generally annoyed with him during the labor process, so I highly doubt anyone would actually take the time to reply to Marshall's awful news.
Breaking Bad — Skyler's Easy Peasy Labor With Holly
Labor can be significantly shorter or longer for different women and, unfortunately, there is really no rhyme or reason to it. That’s why I can't really be mad that my friend gave birth in three hours and I was stuck at the hospital with labor pains for literally three days. But on Breaking Bad, Skyler seems to go into labor and then give birth and head to recovery in just one hour. Walt has exactly one hour to meet with Gus, make his meth drop, and then get to the hospital. But by the time he’s done, Skyler has already given birth. It’s not the most unrealistic scenario, but I feel like the writers let themselves off easy with this one.
Parks And Recreation — April's Halloween Baby
April and Andy spent most of Parks and Rec falling in love, getting into silly hi-jinks, and growing up together just a little bit. In the series finale, one of their flash-forward scenes show April in labor on Halloween. She says that they conceived to get the timing just right and that she put on scary makeup before they went to the hospital. I know it’s a comedy and we should suspend our disbelief, but come on now.
Full House — Aunt Becky’s Calm Labor
Aunt Becky went into labor with Nicky and Alex in the middle of Michelle’s Flintstone's-themed birthday party. Jesse rushed her to the hospital, so again, there wasn't a car birth scene to deal with. But upon their arrival at the hospital, Becky had the same calmness she always had and could even form full sentences that didn't end in insults at her husband for putting her in this predicament. Again, it’s a sitcom, so it can only be so realistic, but it’s definitely one of the least accurate.
Game Of Thrones — Melisandre's Shadow Baby
This gets a special mention because I am well aware that Melisandre’s birth was meant to be magical and that she was never going to actually give birth to a male heir for Stannis. But that shadow baby birth scene was totally unrealistic. Everyone knows you are in labor for at least eight hours before your shadow demon baby is born.
You can't really fault some TV shows for going the cliché and easier route when it comes to birth scenes. Sometimes it’s just easier to fast forward the scene or to allow the actress to be as into it or removed as she prefers. In some cases, you will find some authentic seeming birth scenes that are memorable and make you commend the show for taking the time to get it right. Other times, if you’re like me, you'll probably still shrug it off because nothing will make me not watch my favorite TV shows to my heart’s content.