How 'One Born Every Minute' Helped Me Prepare for Birth

Writer and Mum Tara Ali explains why watching 'One Born Every Minute' is the only guide to giving birth you really need. 

There are lots of things that are essential when you’re pregnant, like extreme napping and Kit Kats. But the thing I found the most beneficial were the hours I spent watching One Born Every Minute (OBEM). I was extremely dedicated to the fly-on-the-wall series about life in the Princess Anne Hospital Maternity Unit in Southampton (the series has since been filmed at two other hospitals). Some might say obsessed.

I know that watching other people give birth is not every pregnant woman’s cup of tea and many prefer the 'la la la, let's just shop in the lovely baby section' approach. Not me. Aside from being a legit reason to blub (something pregnancy makes you do a LOT of) OBEM shows birth as it really is: intense and emotional and miraculous.

I love everything about the show, which is filmed by installing 40 cameras around the ward and leaving the mums and midwives to it. I love the staff, I love the amount of cake they eat, and I also love that there are some truly valuable labour lessons you can learn from watching.

Here are just a few.

It's the nurses who run the show

And I don't just mean the TV show. Sure, doctors show up at crucial moments and take all the glory but nurses are where it's at. On OBEM they treat every nervous mum-to-be coming though the swing doors with the kind of enthusiasm someone who’s just worked a 12-hour shift probably shouldn't have. Yes, I know they’re being filmed and have to be nice but think about it, they’re on camera AND doing their actual jobs of delivering babies.

These women are BOSSES. I was hoping for something of the same when I went into hospital and boy did my nurses deliver, if you get my drift. If you meet someone and they tell you they are a nurse, say thank you nurse lady/man, *fistpump* RESPECT.

They really are unshockable

In OBEM you’ll see women doing everything imaginable while in the throes of labour – wailing, panting, yelling at everyone and texting while on all fours over a birthing ball. It dissipated my worries, I realised long before it happened there was literally nothing I could do that would seem out of place in the delivery suite. They’ve seen it all. Leaking amniotic fluid down your legs and onto the floor as you waddle to the toilet? Seen it. Bra the size of a 3-man tent? Seen it.

Expect the unexpected

No matter how many books you read or hypnobirthing classes you attend, you cannot possibly know how your labour scenario will go. While I was hoping to give birth within 20 minutes, pushing my baby out in one  swift contraction, what I ended up with was vastly different - my waters breaking a month before my due date, an induction and a grade 3 caesarian section. 

But I rolled with it all because I had watched active births, water births, triplet births, babies being born in the car park, premature births, and all kinds of birth plans go south in the months leading up to mine. I knew I was in good hands and that things would be OK whichever way they rolled. And I thank the parents and staff on OBEM for that.

Tara gave birth to her first baby, Jesse, in June last year and is now hooked on One Born Every Minute: What Happened Next.

Tune into Series 6 of One Born Every Minute every Wednesday at 9.30pm on LifeStyle YOU.

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