My feelings about the Duggars are mixed, admittedly. There's much to appreciate along with the things I might view more critically, but in the best, most thought-provoking way.
I won't digress into the pros and cons of the Duggar phenomenon here, but, like the Duggars as a whole, the episode of "19 and Counting" which features Anna Duggar's home birth leaves me a little befuddled as to where I stand. I finally got to watch the big event on YouTube (we haz no cable, or any other direct source, so have to download, use DVDs or watch things online; it keeps life simpler while still allowing for marathon Buffy festivals when needed).
Here we get to see Josh (the eldest Duggar child) and his wife, Anna, attending Bradley classes; having a baby shower, at which I was pleased to see they did the melted-candy-in-the-diaper game that I insisted my friends include at mine, which pretty much says it all about me; and eventually giving birth to Mackynzie Renee (breaking out of the J's) at home with a doula. More on that in a moment.
Check this out. I'm embedding the last of the 6 that comprise this episode - you can get to the other links in the "related videos" sidebar when you pop out the video into its own YouTube window or tab. The first ones includes some backstory about their budding relationship and then young married life, which should fulfill anyone's quota for wholesome viewing for at least a year or so. (The birth nitty gritty starts in part 6, if you prefer to skip the shower footage, and I would hardly blame you.)
So what's your problem, Dou-la-la? Isn't it so nice to see something other than the standard medically-overmanaged affairs of "A Baby Story"/"Maternity Ward" et. al. on TLC? Well, yes, it is. And yet . . . I still have some mixed feelings. Purely from what we are told in the show, the birth was, as I mentioned above, attended by a doula. Note, not a midwife and a doula, but a doula. In the video, Josh clearly says to Jim Bob on the phone the morning Anna went into labor that they were "considering a home birth" , and that they asked their doula if she would be cool with attending them if they stayed at home.
Now, this very well may be poor editing on TLC's part. The woman who attends them may in fact be a trained midwife who had previously been engaged to act as a doula if they were in the hospital, and the fact that she is seen wearing gloves, weighing the baby with the standard midwives' hanging scale, and has cord-clamping tools on hand SEEMS to imply this, but we just don't know. If she is only a doula (and I don't mean "only" in the pejorative, of course), then she is going WAAAAAY beyond the scope of practice. Josh mentions that Anna was "completely dilated" when she started to push. Doesn't that sound to you like somebody was doing internal exams?
AHEM! Note to possibly alarmed readers: this is not part of DONA's training! Even ALACE/toLabor's workshop, which includes the option of both giving and receiving a pelvic exam as a learning experience, in no way endorses ever performing them on clients, and has nothing to do with assessing dilation.
So. One of two things is possible: perhaps the doula actually IS a midwife, and TLC just bungled the information, which should really surprise no one. Or, they essentially had an unassisted birth. I have yet to address "freebirthing" here, and have been stalling on doing so for a while. I won't get into that now, but I do feel the presentation of this birth was confusing, for all its positive aspects (and there are plenty of those too - I love that they showed Josh catching his daughter, I loved her laboring in the tub, I loved the Bradley classes, and just generally loved the emphasis from everyone, including new grandma Michelle, on how peaceful and beautiful the birth was).
Anyway, true to form, another Duggar moment leaves me dazed and confused and unsure of where I stand, seeing both sides, not bearing them any ill will, yet having serious reservations about what is being represented and how.