Here are 12 guidelines and 10 free plot ideas. Website visitors may add your own plot ideas by clicking “Leave a Reply” below.
1. Acknowledge that at least part of your audience is currently pregnant, or will be pregnant at some time in the future. Acknowledge that TV and movie birth scenes do influence many people’s beliefs, behaviors, choices, and even psychological and physical responses to labor. Find your best resource here.
2. Recruit a midwife, obstetrician, OB nurse, or labor support “doula” to ensure accuracy. Be careful to select somebody whose agenda is to respectfully portray realistic birth. Find a consultant here. Find accurate information, books, and films here.
3. Remember that mothers are the real heroes of birth. Their partners and caregivers may help them, but the focus should be on the person doing most of the work. Portray partners and caregivers as supportive, not bossy or controlling.
4. Use your creativity so you don’t have to rely on the old clichés of exaggerating danger, speed, and pain. Birth can be terrifying or fearless but it’s usually just a straightforward biological function. Birth can take minutes or days but it’s usually several hours. Birth can be excruciating or enjoyable but it’s usually just a lot of very hard work that mothers adapt to. Usually, nothing needs to be “fixed.”
5. Refuse to sensationalize, mock, or exploit laboring women.
6. Find alternatives to fearmongering and myths like “birth is dangerous and women always need to be medically rescued.” Fearmongering is: adding a scary voiceover to normal birth footage, listing all the things that could go wrong, making over-medicalization appear unquestioningly routine, or portraying disastrous outcomes as if they are the norm.
7. Find alternatives to the opposite myth as well: “birth is romantic and women should always have orgasms.” Portray the truth: birth is usually very hard work, usually uncomplicated, and usually satisfying. It can be an opportunity for self-discovery and for deepening one’s capacity for love.
8. Find the drama inherent in a new human being traveling from the quiet darkness inside a hardworking woman out into the world of light and first breath. Find the humor in the role change of a lifetime, from being responsible only for oneself to being responsible for a helpless creature with whom one is hopelessly in love.
9. Portray laboring women in upright positions actively moving around, squatting, lunging, rocking, swaying, walking, dancing. Gravity and motion are important for normal birth – the mass media have perpetuated the image of the mother lying down for her entire labor, and that has got to change!
10. Portray breastfeeding as normal and healthy, but women who don’t breastfeed needn’t be judged.
11. Portray vaginal birth as normal and healthy. Narcotics, epidural anesthesia, cesareans, and other interventions are useful in some cases. Portray them as procedures to be used judiciously, not routinely.
12. Be inclusive in who you choose to portray. Among parents, partners, and caregivers, there are endless variations in age, ethnicity, relationship status, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and health status.
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