You may not agree with the birthing option selected by Audrey Bird from Born in the Wild, the first woman profiled on Lifetime’s new series premiering tonight (Tuesday, March 3 at 10pm), but there’s no denying that this birthing story is can’t-turn-away television.
When I first read the initial press release on the series I was like “Wait, what?” As a hospital-birthing mother of three, the idea of a woman wanting to give birth in the wild (with no doctor on call) had me completely miffed. Like, who in her right mind would risk this — her health and the baby’s health — let alone want to do this? It has to be someone looking for her 15 minutes of fame, right? I was wrong.
Lifetime’s six-episode docuseries Born in the Wild takes an extremely graphic, yet fascinating, look at a subset of families who set out to create their own birthing experience in the wild. One of the couples making that alternative choice is Audrey and Peter Bird, who moved from San Diego to a remote part of Alaska last year. The couple lives 150 miles from the nearest city and at the time of filming were expecting their third child (a girl they planned to name Piper).
Prior to moving to Alaska Peter was a deputy sheriff where he realized he wanted to raise his kids in a safe, natural environment after being exposed to some of the crime of city life. Audrey is an active midwife fully trained in birthing.
“One of the reasons I agreed to have this televised is that I wanted to show, ‘Look, it’s your choice. You don’t have to do what mainstream society tells you you have to do — it’s your choice,’” Audrey says.
Audrey’s first child was born in a hospital, however, it was that experience that forced her to look for other options. “Our hospital birth was difficult because I didn’t have the options that I wanted to have. I didn’t feel as respected as I should have been with my birth. With my second it was very healing to me and it bonded us closer along with our children and it was a very beautiful, peaceful experience. With our third I loved being outside, she was my very first summer baby. I always want windows around me — I want to see outside – but this time I actually got to be outside, it felt like a treehouse — it was beautiful.”
Cameras vividly documented Audrey giving birth to her daughter Piper on July 5, 2014. “It was probably one of my most difficult labors, just because I expected it to go one way and she flipped on me, which third babies do. My experience as a midwife is that third babies tend to be wildcards,” Audrey says.
Despite the pain (and you’ll hear all of it, as she’s pretty vocal in her delivery), Audrey still considers her last two births as the most ideal. “They just felt right to me. They felt like that’s how birth should be, versus a medical version, which for some that’s their comfort zone.”
Originally, Audrey had planned for a water birth but Alaska’s unpredictable weather forced her to move. “If we have another child, I’d plan a little bit better for a water birth that’s not so dependent on the weather.” Peter adds that water births are easier for the mother and easier clean up, too. They both believe that babies have a calmer entry into the world, where a baby goes from “in the womb where they are warm and wet, into warm and wet and just get lifted up out of the water.”
As for what her family and friends think of her birthing choice, Audrey says: “There’s a mixture of one half says ‘you’re crazy,’ and the other half says, ‘Man, I wish I could do that but I’m way too scared to.’”
Whatever your opinion on the matter, there’s no denying that the birthing process continues to fascinate, and Lifetime’s Born in the Wild (Tuesdays) looks to show just that.