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Call The Midwife ‘should’ Have Health Warning Over Practices

Experts at two universities have called on television programmes like Call The Midwife featuring “inaccurate birthing practices” to “come with a health warning”.

The researchers analysed 87 birthings depicted on the popular BBC show as well as those shown on This Is Going To Hurt and Channel 4’s One Born Every Minute.

The experts then compared these depictions to modern guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Experts call on ‘warning’ for Call The Midwife amid ‘inaccurate birthing practices’ While most scenes compared favourably to modern guidelines, a third of depictions showed midwives and doctors clamping umbilical cords in an inaccurate or dramatised manner.

The researchers said that without a health warning, viewers and healthcare professionals watching the BBC show could think these practices are standard.

Current NICE guidelines state that women should not have the umbilical cord clamped earlier than one minute unless there are concerns about cord integrity or the baby’s heartbeat.

Despite this, the research, which was published in JRSM Open, found that in 21 instances, clamping appeared to happen immediately or too early.

Susan Bewley, professor emeritus of obstetrics and women’s health at King’s College London, said: “Millions of viewers watch programmes like Call The Midwife every week to be entertained but the line between fact and fiction is blurred.

“We are impressed that UK television shows have accurately depicted some changes in childbirth over the last century, but on the other hand they have also provided the public with a picture of poor-quality care when it comes to clamping during childbirth.

“These inaccurate depictions could influence how people see real-world care.

“We saw too early cord clamping in most televised births but no programme informed viewers about the safety aspects.

“When showing outdated practices, broadcasters have a public health duty to inform viewers that this immediate medical intervention is no longer recommended. No broadcaster would show the sleeping positions associated with cot-death without comment.”

Andrew Weeks, professor of international maternal health at the University of Liverpool, added: “Health professionals know that midwives and doctors should not interrupt the flow of blood to the newborn baby nor separate the mother and baby without a pressing reason, and yet this is what is being shown on popular television programmes as common practice.

“Incorrect depictions like this, however routine, can lead to misinterpretations of correct practice by the public.

“This illustrates the need for safety recommendations when TV dramas show birthing practices and procedures that are outdated and inaccurate.”

A spokesperson for Call The Midwife said: “Call The Midwife is a drama, not a documentary, and is set half a century ago.

“It is highly accurate to the period it depicts, and shows how childbirth has changed radically over the years.”