By Lauren Le Vine, REDBOOK.
Lifetime has announced four new unscripted series, one of which has our eyebrows shooting up on our foreheads. Called Born in the Wild, the reality series will show women giving birth in the natural location of their choosing, unassisted by medical professionals. The concept was inspired by this viral video of a woman giving birth in a stream, which has over 20 million views.
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"For expecting mothers and fathers in their third trimester of pregnancy, things couldn't get much wilder. From the mood swings and false alarms to the crazy food cravings, learning to expect the unexpected becomes a way of life in the final days leading up to birth. But what happens when the craziest experience of a woman's life becomes truly wild, and soon-to-be parents decide to take on an unassisted birth in the outdoors?" the press release asks.
First, quick sidebar: those "wild" third trimester occurrences don't actually correlate to the actual wild. The network understands how homonyms work, right?
Moving on, you're probably wondering if this is at all safe and/or logical. Yes, says Born in the Wild's producer. "This isn't Naked and Afraid, and we're dropping people in the woods and saying 'go have the baby,'" Eli Lehrer, Lifetime's senior VP and head of nonfiction programming, tells Entertainment Weekly. "These are all people who have already had babies in hospitals who had unsatisfying experiences and who are choosing to have different experiences. This is something people are doing, and we set out to document it."
The network insists it's taking precautions should medical intervention be needed. While the couple gets to select the "wild" locale for the birth, it has to be within a certain radius of a hospital. No first-time mothers will be allowed to participate, and a medical professional will be on-site.
Still, EW spoke to an obstetrician who raised some important concerns. "I understand everybody wants to believe we overmedicalize pregnancy and that it's a natural process. But it's a natural process that historically has caused an extraordinary loss of life," says Ron Jaekle, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Jaekle worries that even with medical care on stand-by, it's a risk that's not worth taking.
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There's also the concern that seeing women give birth in the wild on a reality show could spark a trend, and copycats deciding to go it on their own in nature might not have the same medical precautions on stand-by that women on Born in the Wild do. "I truly don't think this is something people would enter into lightly. This is a very specific subset of people doing this," Eli Lehrer tells EW, insisting that the network just wants to capture that subset. What do you think?