by Mollee Bauer
Ever set foot in a maternity ward or are scheduled to soon? Do visions of an intensive care unit (emphasis on intense) make you want to run away and hide? For some folks, that could be a normal reaction. For the crew of Lifetime's reality TV series "One Born Every Minute," the phrase "Carpe Diem" ("Seize the Day") comes to mind instead.
We recently had an exclusive opportunity to connect with Dr. Stuart Jones and one of his head nurses, Amanda Monaghan. In its second season, "One Born Every Minute" has 40 cameras documenting the high-drama, overwhelming emotions, and unexpected humor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in Riverside Methodist Hospital's maternity ward located in Columbus, Ohio.
It was time to dial-in for the interview. We were excited and set our sights on gathering any and all information we could about the show and staff. We asked Dr. Jones and Nurse Amanda questions ranging from what can you do to prepare for childbirth, to what's it really like to have cameras rolling 24/7 while you're trying to do your work. Their answers might surprise you and could entice you to watch the show! We're not going to miss a single episode!
You're probably curious to learn more about our interviewees. Dr. Jones has been delivering babies for over 23 years and has been the Chairman at Riverside for 5 years. He likes to describe the team as a "family" and that once you're there in their labor and delivery unit, you're a "lifer and retire there." When Dr. Jones isn't in a delivery, you can usually find him hanging out at the nurses' station, joking with the residents or posing for the family albums, holding the baby he's just delivered.
Nurse Amanda's a Labor and Delivery RN and has been working at Riverside Methodist for six years. She enjoys working nights because the nurses and residents like to have fun when things are slow. She jokes that things are never "that slow." The nurses do know how to keep it interesting from having birthing-ball races to IV-pole dancing (even with the cameras rolling).
We wanted to know why Riverside Methodist Hospital was selected for the Lifetime TV series and Dr. Jones' answer made sense a lot of sense.
"What sold the show was our wide variety of patients," Dr. Jones explains. "We have a wide range of folks using our services from people living in their cars to people who might be a big CEO of a company. Riverside's also really ethnically and socially diverse."
Dr. Jones proudly mentions that Riverside is the second largest hospital in Ohio due to the sheer number of deliveries they take on every year (7000 and growing). He made sure to mention that Riverside covers low-risk as well as high-risk pregnancies. "We're an intensive care unit and it can get really stressful," Dr. Jones continues. "I tell all my nurses, including Amanda, that if they can make it through the first few months, they're never going to want to leave."
Why would anyone want to leave this bustling maternity ward (besides the families, of course)? When you watch the show you'll see why not.
When I asked our guests, "What is the craziest or goofiest event you've seen in the maternity ward," Amanda replied first, "Every day is different. Every time you come into work, there are new parents crying or there is a new family drama...it's hard to narrow down a particular event."
Dr. Jones agreed with Amanda about what they go through each day.
"Despite the occasional fist fights we've broken up in the hallways, you don't really know what to expect because all the families are so different, as are their dynamics. We've seen some cases where you'll have two fathers waiting in the wings and you don't know what to expect until the baby is born."
If that isn't drama that grabs you, I don't know what is. There are soap operas with weaker plots.
Dr. Jones knows there is "always going to be family member drama," but he believes the "big day should be all about the baby, mom and dad being new parents."
He explains that while all those family dynamics get brought into the birth room -- whether it's unwed moms, dads who aren't excited about who their daughter's baby daddy is, dads who are worried about their daughter and baby-to-be, dads-to-be freaking out – Dr. Jones reminds us that "…it's already a high intensity environment and that can trigger all kinds of behaviors in people."
After 23 years on the job, Dr. Jones says his days at Riverside are, "fine most of the time and that most folks hold back, knowing there is another time and place. People shouldn't bring their baggage into the birth room." We agree with you Dr. Jones, but we know that wish doesn't always get honored.
"One Born Every Minute" manages to pack all this action from 40 cameras into single, hour-long episodes. An hour just doesn't seem like it's enough and each episode has you wanting more!
When asked, "What are we missing when the cameras stop rolling," Amanda and Dr. Jones shared some candid comments.
"What most people don't know," says Dr. Jones, "is that what they are viewing could be 10 minutes on the show but in reality are snippets from what could be a 12-14 hour activity…Just because the cameras are on all the time, doesn't mean you are going to watch two hours of someone pacing the halls, you'd switch the channel."
Following that answer, I asked if the cameras being on 24/7 made the staff and patients behave any differently or if the cameras got in the way.
Dr. Jones said that during the first season of "One Born Every Minute," that the staff would "…quickly run behind a corner and hide to talk. In our second season, it seems like there isn't a big change in people, people forget the cameras are in the room – they act like they normally do day-to-day." Amanda added that for her, the "…first 24 hours of being on camera was a little strange but then after that we're running down the hallway with wheelchair races and doing what we always do…"
We wanted to know what Dr. Jones and Amada hoped someone who was pregnant and watching "One Born Every Minute" would get out of the show. It's apparent that this team is dedicated to empowering their patients. It's all about making the experience "…not so scary…since it's scary enough already," mentioned Dr. Jones.
"I'd hope they would get a little bit of everything…labor and delivery is not always a happy place…" Amanda further explains. "I believe the show prepares them for childbirth and shows that nothing is picture perfect." Dr. Jones chimed in and reiterated that they, "try their best to have the optimal birth, and that through our teamwork, doing our job, we make sure mom and baby are happy and healthy."
Sounds good so far but wait, there's more!
Dr. Jones continued to say that, "…when a woman is having her baby it's the most dangerous time for her. Our show doesn't hide anything and we've removed the blinders. It shows us taking care of emergencies in real-time. You'll see fetal distress, stat c-sections, and difficult deliveries. But we believe this shows how our team, doctors and nurses work together to make that positive outcome happen."
When asked about how they deal with emergencies, Dr. Jones explains how they stage repetitive drills while the unit is running and grade themselves on how well or poorly they performed. With role-play and real emotions, they learn how to control situations and get out of the way when necessary. "One of the great things we found out doing these drills," Dr. Jones stated, "was that I should get out of the way and let the nurses do what they do best – which helps me get to where I need to be going in an emergency [scrubbing and getting ready for surgery]."
Amanda believes that being a nurse is more than just giving shots or taking a pulse. She feels that they are there to encourage and empower the patient and it shows in her statement.
"Birth plans are great but you have to be able to stray from them a little bit and be flexible. If something isn't working, you need to be willing try something else. I encourage those position changes as long as they are safe…Sometimes you just need to tell them they need to do what they want. For example, we'll get the occasional ‘f-bomb' with an "oops" (because of the cameras) and we encourage them to keep it up. Swear all you want if it helps."
According to Dr. Jones, everything is a two-way street. "We're not going to encourage someone to do something that will hurt themselves or the baby. We'll discuss your options with you and guide you to the best possible outcome. We've been delivering babies a long time."
So how does one prepare for childbirth? Dr. Jones had some ideas that match ours here on Pregnancy.org!
"My advice for preparing for childbirth is take birthing classes, whether you're going to do an epidural or not. You'll know what to expect, why things are going on, why are the doctor or nurses asking me to change positions. They are great for preparing older siblings too. In addition to the classes, it's important to stay active and be in good shape. Keeping active really helps labor and delivery – the births go better – babies don't have fatty or big shoulders – they are leaner babies. I routinely tell my moms to keep exercising (as long as they are not having complications). I have some pregnant moms still running 2-4 miles. It's a great thing. The other really important thing is to have your pediatrician and car seat picked out. You can't leave the hospital without either one."
My interview time with Dr. Jones and Amanda was running out. I asked them one last question, "What's been some of the more memorable moments that have taken you off-guard for either of you in the unit?"
Amanda said it's, "…watching the dads cry – it doesn't matter who the mother or family is, when the dad holds his baby for first time that's the best part for me – gets me every time."
For Dr. Jones, it's the births that seem to go off without a hitch even if there were complications. "We had this twin delivery and everything was going so perfectly. In fact, Amanda was on that birth. The mom had the twins vaginally. Even though there were a few complications, it was a nice delivery and those are the ones that stick out. And yeah, after 23 years of delivering babies, you're right Amanda, it doesn't matter what time of day it is, watching those expressions on a dad's face are priceless."
We think so, too! Our interview was over about as quickly as the fast-paced show, but just like the show it left us wanting more!
If you're trying to conceive, pregnant or even a parent already, we suggest setting your DVRs to record "One Born Every Minute" Tuesdays 10pm/9C on Lifetime.
This show will have you cheering, crying, laughing and not wanting to miss a single heartbeat. Congratulations to the families and staff at Riverside Memorial!
Are you an avid watcher and fan of the show? Tell us which is your favorite episode!
Copyright © Pregnancy.org