Midwives Review: More Babies..

MIDWIVES: Tuesday 31st July, BBC2, 9pm

It’s been a mixed bag for the NHS recently. On the one hand, there is the lingering fear that privatisation may gut the health service of what makes it great. It’s been accused of being an out of control, bloated bureaucracy, and is facing a fresh round of job cuts. On the other hand, it’s been ‘celebrated’ in the Olympic Ceremony, so swings and roundabouts I suppose…

The Beeb have seen great success with Call the Midwife, but this hospital doc is more closely modelled on Channel 4’s BAFTA winning One Born Every Minute.

In a programme that may go some way to persuade people that NHS cuts aren’t necessarily the right move, the BBC has put out a new six-part documentary about Midwives – the people who are experiencing first hand our ever growing population. Not for the faint hearted, this episode is full to the brim of the things that make childbirth an absolutely terrifying prospect. In my head, I’d be sitting behind the soon to be mother, squeezing her hand and whispering words of encouragement; “nearly there!”, “atta girl!” and so on. Now I’m not so sure.

What is most enlightening about this documentary is how the midwives must separate the professional from something so intensely personal as childbirth. Unfortunately however, this divide also affects the programme.

Whilst Midwives is informative, it is also quite impersonal. We’re shown a variety of characters, both staff and patients, and aside from a few touching moments, we’re never really given the chance to put anything in context. Like the midwives, this documentary approaches things in a very professional manner. I never felt emotionally invested in what I was watching, as opposed to say – The Baby With A New Face.

If anything though, this is the most enlightening aspect of the programme. People constantly refer to the childbirth as a ‘miracle’ and ‘magic’, despite reproduction being one of the key life processes. With this programme’s detached view, we are able to see it as it is. Brutal, painful, and more often then not, prolonged.