Introduction

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Authors: Luce, A., Hundley, V. and van Teijlingen, E.

Pages: 1-5

ISBN: 9783319635125

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-63513-2_1

© The Author(s) 2017. The media plays an important role in providing us with information about a range of topics and issues, including pregnancy and childbirth. The visual media, such as television, can provide planned information (education), for example, in documentaries, advertising and the news. But the information can also be unplanned (through socialisation), for example, through the way issues are portrayed in soap operas, “fly-on-the-wall” programs, panel shows and drama. There has been a considerable debate regarding the influence the media has on first-time pregnant women. Much of the academic literature discusses the influence of (reality) television, which often portrays childbirth as risky, dramatic and painful. The truth is that most of pregnancy and childbirth is slow, relatively ‘uneventful’, and marked by long periods of waiting. Therefore, normal childbirth is not great for visual media such as television. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that the dramatic portrayal of childbirth has a negative effect on childbirth in society, generating fear of childbirth through the increasing anticipation of negative outcomes. At the same time, it has been suggested that women seek out such programmes to help understand what could happen during the birth. This chapter will introduce the current thinking by health professionals about the role of media in how women perceive birth.

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