Earlier this week, Lifetime announced a new reality show / documentary series called Born in the Wild, which will document the experiences of several pregnant women who turn their back on all advances of modern medicine to return to nature in order to give birth.
These women won’t be assisted by doctors or midwives, and will deliver the baby all on their own, as cameras will document every moment of it, from preparations for the day, to the labor and the moment the child is born.
The series is inspired by a viral video from last year, of a woman giving birth on a mat near a creek in the middle of the forest. To date, it has over 20 million views and, obviously, Lifetime is confident that their own documentary series will prove just as successful.
There’s only one problem, though: various groups and doctors have already spoken out on the show, ringing the alarm in how dangerous this “wild” birth can actually be. If it’s not dangerous in itself, having it on a TV show could spark a very troubling, new trend among young mothers-to-be, by indirectly telling them to turn their back to hospital birth.
Ron Jaekle, MD, maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Fetal Center, tells Entertainment Weekly that instances of mothers dying in childbirth are much more frequent with home births than with hospital ones. Things could be even worse in the case of a birth in the middle of the forest, when there’s not even a midwife present.
However, Lifetime is taking extra precautions, Eli Lehrer, Lifetime’s senior VP and head of nonfiction programming, fights back. No first-time mothers will be allowed on the show and all “wild” birthing locations will be picked so as to be close to a hospital. All mothers will have a clean bill of health and will be under constant supervision by medical staff, even during birth (albeit from a distance).
In other words, this will differ from a hospital birth in that all medical staff will stand back and only intervene in case of an emergency.
As the Internet reacts with shock at news of the show, Lehrer goes to great lengths to underline that the idea isn’t meant to present wild birth as an alternative to hospital birth for all mothers out there: it just wants to show that, for a few women out there, this is already an option.
“This isn’t [Discovery Channel's] Naked and Afraid and we’re dropping people in the woods and saying ‘go have the baby.’ 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,” he says.
“I’m not worried this is going to spark a trend. I truly don’t think this is something people would enter into lightly. This is a very specific subset of people doing this,” Lehrer adds.
Whether he’s managed to convince skeptics, we’ll probably see when Born in the Wild airs. Meanwhile, tell us, is this a show you would tune in for?