One Born Every Minute

New born baby with midwife and mother Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 2.0 UK, see















I’ve written alot about the police, the firebrigade, even ambulance workers on this website. But I’ve never really written about those who work in a hospital on a regular basis. On one level it is obvious that hospital workers are emergency workers; the doctors and nurses who work  in A and E are fighting to save lives on a daily basis. But today I’m going to write about a different kind of emergency worker; midwives.

To my mind midwives are emergency workers of a very special type, they deal with life and death on a regular basis often not quite knowing what to expect. My thoughts on midwives have been inspired by watching the documentary One Born Every Minute. The show is about midwives working in a large teaching hospital in Leeds. I watched the finale recently and wanted to review it for a number two reasons; the excellent journalism it portrays and the unique insight the view gets into the world of mid-wifery

It gives an opening into a world that very few people actually know a lot about; childbirth and how parents cope with it in very different ways.  The show also presents the hospital side of giving birth  showing the perspective of the nurses and midwives who bring ‘new life into the world’ every day.

The mid-wives are one of the most  interesting aspects of the show  because of their almost cynical perspective on working in a ward. The midwives smile and comfort mothers in times of distress or joy but they must always keep going onto the next couple or the next single mother about to give birth.  They also don’t react to certain things that jar the viewer e.g. the mothers screaming when they give birth- the midwives never bat an eye lid.

The value of the show is also evident in other ways. Although the show always stays in the same ward,, the perspective does shift each week. Sometimes the crux of the show is a mum, sometimes a dad or a nurse working in the ward. Each story is individual and thus more emotive for the audience.  Focusing on individuals giving birth also demonstrates the fact that families cope with the  trauma or joy of childbirth in a plethora of different ways.

The show itself also works because although obviously edited it gives the impression of being largely unaltered. The camera is left in a delivery or a waiting room and just left to run. As a result the interactions between the midwives and the mother’s to be seem more genuine.

Linda Abbott  (the head mid wife) is also a really key figure in the show, she provides a focus point . She is the ‘expert’ of the ward and has had the longest running career of the ward.  She is cynical, funny and a big source of support for patients and mid-wives alike. She is in the show through out and the finale when she leaves is made all the emotive as a result.

The show manages to be both emotive and entertaining without crossing the line into being exploitative. It also does not shy away from showing the grimmer side of pregnancy, the stress the screaming and how painful the process is. Therefore the shows because of the balance between its entertainment and showing relative realism in a scary but amazing process.

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