Luckily no one died — or was seriously injured — during the production of Lifetime’s controversial new reality series BORN IN THE WILD.
“That’s not to say we didn’t run into hiccups now and again,” executive producer Yoshi Stone admits.
“We did have a mom who you will see in episode four who had a cord wrapped [around her baby]. And we had a mom who experienced postpartum hemorrhage.”
The six episode series documents individual families as they navigate the birthing process in remote outdoor locations — often hours from the nearest doctor or hospital.
Voice-over narration reminds viewers of the extreme dangers that the mothers and their newborns can face: wild animals, extreme weather, etc.
But Stone defends the program, insisting producers did their best to vet the families ahead of time and allowed the participants complete control over their medical choices.
“It was never our intention to have a negative outcome,” he says.
“Our parents were in the driver’s seat at all times. They had their own birth plan, their own transfer protocols and emergency plans. It was our goal to abide by those.”
“We did have a risk assessment company that we worked with that did a full workup on every couple. In some instances, they recommended additional medical care and we passed those recommendations on to the couple. But it was up to the couple to accept it.”
Stone talked more about the program in an exclusive interview with TheTVPage.com.
Did you realize how controversial this show was going to be?
We definitely knew that there were going to be strong reactions. And there have been.
Do you think the reactions have been fair?
I think the bulk of the reactions were before anyone had seen it. I think people were reacting to the concept rather than to the product. I hope that some of those opinions might be changing ever so slightly. Obviously the show is intense and dramatic, but I think it is also very real and it is handled with sensitivity. Ultimately there are moments in it that are beautiful.
How did this production compare to a typical “reality show”?
Just by the very nature of the project, we wanted to maintain a small footprint. Our crew at its biggest was about 10 people and generally speaking we weren’t all in the same place at the same time. There were times that our crew with the family was 3 people. It was not a video village and craft service and all the rest. We were very small in an attempt to be sure that we weren’t interfering too much.
We wanted the families to have the experience they set out to have. We wanted to document their preparation and delivery and the best was to do that was to not do it like “reality television.” I think that comes through. Obviously we can’t cue the baby and when the woman is in throws of labor is not the opportune time to ask her to change position or walk into the room again. It was much different than your average reality show?
How much “danger” were the participants really in?
A lot of our mothers did have midwives. And they all had transfer plans. Both of my children were born in my living room. So we weren’t in the woods, but we also weren’t in a hospital. There are all kinds of choices you can make from scheduled C-section to epidurals to natural child birth in the hospital to, as you see, the middle of the woods. People educate themselves and they make the best decision for themselves.
How hard was it to find these people?
We posted on birth forums and mom sites and just sort of asked if anyone was looking to do this type of thing and we actually had a pretty good response. Then it was a matter of talking and determining if they were candidates based on health and medical history and then trying to find good motivations, good stories and good characters.
BORN IN THE WILD airs Tuesday nights at 10:00 PM on Lifetime.
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