Representations of Childbirth in the Media: Does it matter how childbirth is portrayed?

This source preferred by Ann Luce, Vanora Hundley and Edwin van Teijlingen

Authors: Luce, A., Cash, M., Hundley, V., Cheyne, H., van Teijlingen, E. and Angell, C.

Start date: 8 January 2014

Considerable debate surrounds the influence media has on mothers who are giving birth for the first time. Much of the academic literature discusses the influence of television, and reality television programmes in particular, on how pregnant women engage with their pregnancy. It is suggested that women seek out such programmes to add to their knowledge about childbirth because there is a cultural void. Expectant mothers find that reality television helps them better understand what could happen during the birthing process. In general, birth is portrayed as risky, dramatic, and painful. This paper will report on the findings of a systematic literature review relating to the representation of childbirth in the mass media, and in particular television. The key themes that emerged were the medicalisation of childbirth, women using media to learn about childbirth and birth as a missing everyday life event. Thus, expectant mothers find that reality television helps them better understand what could happen during the birthing process.

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