New Video – What do people really think about birth?

Yesterday I went out on the street filming interviews with the general public for our upcoming BIG global birth cross-media film project that we’re launching very very soon (we’re going to be officially announcing the launch in the next few days).

I thought it would be interesting to do a straw poll of the general public in my home city of Brighton, on the South coast of England. I wanted to test public opinion – as the straw poll idiom suggests according to Wikipedia, to hold up straw in the air “to find out in what direction the wind blows, in this case, the wind of group opinion.”

For those that don’t know Brighton, it is renowned as being the most liberal city in the UK –  it’s culturally diverse, there’s a high proportion of multi-national students, there’s a big gay and lesbian community, the population is pretty well-educated and I thought, they would be pretty well-informed about birth.

Helped by our new intern Caroline, yesterday I filmed about 50 different “vox-pops”  – short filmed interviews with random people on the street. I interviewed men and women from all ethnic, class and cultural backgrounds – teenagers, students, office-workers, shop-workers, builders, young mums, grandparents, holiday-makers – I wanted this straw poll to be from as diverse a cross-section of society as I could find.

Amongst the questions, I asked everyone to describe their image of birth in five words.

Here’s a short montage of some of the results from the women (and one man!):

To my dismay, almost all of the 50 people we interviewed included the same 3 words “painful”, “bloody” and “scary”. No-one said “beautiful” or “amazing”.

I was really shocked and also, really saddened.

“Painful”, “Bloody”, Scary” – that’s the picture of birth amongst a cross-section of the general public (albeit a small sample group in one medium sized city with a population of 250,000).

I posted a status update on the Facebook fanpage yesterday and within 12 hours, I had 32 comments with lots of lovely people giving their own five words to describe birth. And what a difference.

Here’s the top 15 most used words with how many times those words appeared within this DOULA! film fanpage “straw poll”. At no.1 is “amazing” – and in joint 15th is “painful”.

1. amazing 12

2. empowering 10

3. intense 9

4. beautiful 8

5. transformative 7

6 =. wonderful 6

6=. awesome 6

6=. life-changing 6

6=. powerful 6

6=. miraculous 6

11. loving 5

12. exciting 4

13. spiritual 3

14. natural 2

15=. special 2

15=. hard work 2

15=normal 2

15= incredible 2

15= rewarding 2

15=life-altering 2

15=challenging 2

15=focused 2

15=painful 2

The following words / phrases have just one vote:

beginning, intriguing, strength, capable, glorious, shocking, addictive, joyous, awe-inspiring, incomparable, fun, intimate, interesting, surreal, divine, spectacular, ecstatic, victorious, strong, unique, freeing, calm, euphoria, magical, privileged, darkly raw, best experience, primal, transcending, passionate, wish I’d had a doula!, best thing ever, terrifying, horrendous, humilating, degrading, difficult

Very interesting straw polls! Thanks to everyone who commented on the DOULA! film Facebook fanpage.


2 responses

  1. What a sad but accurate reflection of how we view birth. What is it that makes us so scared of such a sacred event? Have we forgotten that it is a normal bodily function?

    March 17, 2011 at 9:07 pm

  2. So much fear still surrounding birth! No wonder the intervention rate is so high when fear is known to lead to tension and tension to pain. In our society, we make so many choices based on fear rather than love and the way we view birth and the way birth turns out for so many people is the result of this. As a HypnoBirthing antenatal teacher, I see many parents starting off the classes full of fear and anxiety about birth and love to see that fade away and be replaced by a gentle excitement and anticipation.

    March 29, 2011 at 12:09 pm

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