Before basic cable channels like Discovery Health and TLC devoted most of their daytime programming to hours and hours of pregnancy, labor/delivery and parenting shows, first-time mothers had to turn to television and movies for their depictions of birth. Sadly, most birth scenes are ridiculously exaggerated to enhance the humor or horror of childbirth. Let’s take a look at some of moviedom’s most memorable birth scenes and give them a much-needed reality check.
Reality Check: Knocked Up: This is one of the very few movies, besides Robert Altman’s little-seen Dr. T and the Women, that shows a baby’s head “crowning.” And it’s that very realistic scene that reportedly caused Anne Hathaway to drop out of the film. Katherine Heiglobviously didn’t have any problems with it, and for an actress who’snever had any children, she did a pretty amazing job grunting, moaning,swearing, sweating and pushing.
Of course her baby looks two monthsold, but so do all movie newborns. However, don’t think that if at thelast minute your OB is out of town that some random OB you interviewedonce will come to the rescue. He won’t. Unless he’s your uncle or best friend’s father. Youwill most likely have to see his back-up or whatever attending OB is oncall. And never fear, most hospitals don’t let random friends just walkin while you’re pushing.
Reality Check: She’s Having a Baby: One of the first films I remember tackling the issue of infertility, this ’80s dramedy also features one of the scariest birth scenes. At first everything is funny and light. ElizabethMcGovern stereotypically tells husband Kevin Bacon that “it’s time,”and he rushes out of the driveway, leaving her behind. After they getto the hospital, there are the predictable hoots, “hee-hee-hoo-hoos,”and hollers, and your basic movie delivery… until something goeswrong.
All of a sudden everything is a whirl, Kevin Bacon is toldthere’s an emergency, and he’s not allowed to follow his frightenedwife to the operating room. How much has changed in 20 years! Even ifyou do need an emergency C-section, your partner will be allowed inonce you have been prepped in the OR. Partners aren’t expected tonervously pace in waiting rooms.
Reality Check: Rosemary’s Baby:Even if your partner hasn’t sold his soul and allowed you to be druggedand raped by the devil, there are lessons to be learned from thishorror classic regarding pregnancy and birth. For first-time mothers,there’s always a possibility that nosy friends, relatives or neighborsmight want to micro-manage your pregnancy. Don’t let them! And if yourOB suggests you never speak to anyone about your pregnancy, prescribesyou drink smelly herbal tinctures without telling you the ingredients,and otherwise creeps you out, switch health care professionals stat!And unless you have a C-section, there is no reason you’ll be so out ofit during birth. Poor Rosemary (Mia Farrow) indeed.
Reality Check: The Fly: GeenaDavis nails the sweaty pushing part, but unless you’ve somehow managedto successfully mate with an insect, I can confidently state thatthere’s no chance you’ll ever have to give birth to a giant larva. Big sigh of relief, huh? But the sweaty pushing — yeah, it’s real.