|Abstract: ||More pregnant women turn to reality-based television programs and the Internet
than to prenatal classes. Scant research examines the portrayal of childbirth
in these new media. Although its impact is unknown, we do know that up to 20%
of pregnant women fear giving birth; consequences include avoiding pregnancy,
termination, depression, and increased maternal morbidity.
Overall internet content tended to be contradictory but largely reflected two categories:
natural and mainstream, with two different portrayals of childbirth.
Natural sources focused on eliminating fear, discrediting hospital births, and
promoting ‘alternative’ options such as homebirth and midwifery. Mainstream
sources reinforced fears, discredited home births, reported statistics from studies,
and employed misinformation. Popular Internet sources tended to have the
goal of educating whereas media uncovered in the purposive searches tended
towards entertainment goals. Conflicting and misinformation from the Internet
may entrench rather than assuage fears. Women may become confused and develop
a heavily biased representation of birth. This could strongly impact a
woman’s approach to and experience of birth.|