Lifetime’s new reality show is delivering some controversy before it’s even been born. The network announced Wednesday a new series titled Born in the Wild that chronicles pregnant women giving birth outdoors, unassisted by doctors.
“What happens when the craziest experience of a woman’s life becomes truly wild, and soon-to-be parents decide to take on an unassisted birth in the outdoors?” asks the press release. “Born in the Wild
will document the journeys of young, expectant parents who have chosen to give birth ‘in the wild.’”It’s certainly a head-turning TV hook. But one obstetrician says we already know what happens when women give birth in the wild, and it isn’t good. “I understand everybody wants to believe we overmedicalize pregnancy and that it’s a natural process. But it’s a natural process that historically has caused an extraordinary loss of life,” says Ron Jaekle, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Fetal Center. “There is not a single piece of literature that we had to read growing up that didn’t talk about somebody’s mother or wife dying in childbirth, it was part of the national vocabulary. In the 1900s, a women died for every 1,000 babies born in the United States. Today it’s .1 for every 1,000.”The Lifetime
series is taking precautions to help ensure the safety of the mother and child. No first-time mothers will be allowed to participate on the show and all participants will have a clean bill of health. A trained emergency professional will be on site. And while the couple will choose the birthing location, the production will remain within a certain radius of a hospital should complications arise. “I’m not surprised an OB-GYN would say that [but] we’re taking extreme precautions to make sure the mothers and the babies are safe,” says Eli Lehrer,
Lifetime’s senior VP and head of nonfiction programming. “Our presence at these births is going to make them far safer than if they were doing it on their own.”The series itself was inspired by a viral video showing a birth in a forest
that racked up 20 million views (photo above). Lehrer says he has a personal connection to the show’s concept himself as his second child was born at home via midwife. “This isn’t [Discovery Channel’s]Naked and Afraid
and we’re dropping people in the woods and saying ‘go have the baby,’” he says. “These are all people who have already had babies in hospitals who had unsatisfying experiences and who are choosing to have different experiences. This is something people are doing and we set out to document it.”
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