I was very excited to receive this book for review as it covers a topic which is just beginning to receive sustained critical attention – that of representations of birth in the media and the impact of these on women’s perceptions. Over recent years there have been sporadic attempts to explore the way that media portrays birth, covering print media and television programmes, both fiction and ‘reality’ TV.
The consensus among commentators has been that media portrayals of birth are almost universally negative. This is because the demands of the media for eye-catching headlines and dramatic storylines require the telescoping of labour duration and its progress into a catchy narrative. This means emphasising problems and difficulties, and more broadly, focussing on the concept of risk in childbirth.
Midwifery, Childbirth and the Media is an edited collection of papers that aims to pick up and look deeper into some of these emerging themes around childbirth and the media. There is a duality evident in the pieces which highlights the origin of the book as a conference held in 2014 to consider birth and the media.
The conference was attended by midwives as well as academics from media studies and midwifery, and the book follows the same format. The introduction sets out the premise and the argument of the book: ‘…the responsibility for balanced reporting of childbirth [lies] not with the media but with the midwifery profession’ (p2).
This is a powerful statement which very much drives the individual chapters of the book, but nowhere is it actually unpicked and debated – rather it is taken as something self-evidentially true.
Read the full book review here:
By Tania McIntosh, Principal Lecturer, University of Brighton
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