Moms, set your DVRs for ‘Call the Midwife’ Sundays on PBS

I loved “Downton Abbey” so I tuned in last night for the series premier of “Call the Midwife” on PBS. The new British series takes a look at midwives (some nuns, some just nurses) in the 1950s  in East End, London.

The nurse/nuns work in a poor area where working-class/poor women are just having baby after baby.

While heading out on a call in a poor neighborhood, the nun tells the nurse there are between 80 to 100 babies born each month in Poplar alone and as soon as one baby leaves the pram another is ready to take his place.

Throughout the show, you just see babies all over the place: Babies in prams on the street next the house or on prams in the hallway; Toddlers peeing on floors; Big brothers and sisters caring for the little ones.

At one point the dad asked for the nurse to give him the afterbirth so he could get more food on the dole for the family.

One mother in the series had 24 kids and is pregnant again. They think the baby is stillborn but turns out to be alive and just pre-mature, The mother goes into shock and starts to bleed out. She doesn’t want to part with the preemie to let the baby go to the hospital.  They end up leaving the preemie with the mother and come every day to check on him. The mother is using capillary action in a glass straw to feed the preemie drops of breast milk and is kangarooing the baby in her nightshirt to keep him warm with her body – two techniques practiced now for preemies.

The blonde nurse (I don’t know her name yet) says, “The mothers are the brave ones. Baby after baby in abominable conditions. “

As a mother I think we can relate and also not relate to this show. We’ve all been through childbirth and know how it feels to worry about a safe delivery and the baby being healthy. But at least mothers today know they have modern medicine to help them and the baby if something goes wrong.  I delivered twice with midwives, and I think they do a wonderful job. However, my midwives had a lot more to help them just in case than these ladies do on the show.

My other main thought on the show is I am so glad women know more about their bodies and how they get pregnant.  Women can and many, if not most in the U.S., do control when they are getting pregnant. (In one scene the nurse asks when the mother’s last period was and the dad says she hasn’t had one in years going from pregnancy to nursing to pregnancy.) I am glad women can be in charge of when to bring life into the world and not just every time they have sex end up pregnant.  (I am waiting for conflict on the show of the nurses who are not nuns telling the patients about birth control.)

I am afraid we are going to see a lot of heartache on the show — stillborns, miscarriages, overworked, trapped mothers and dead mothers — but it does make me grateful to be a mom today and not then.

So did you watch the show? What did you think?  What were your big take-aways from the show? Will you watch the show in the future?

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October 1st, 2012
5:36 am

Women in England know about birth control too, and can even access it easily through their healthcare systems.

These women are like many women here in the U. S. who simply choose not to use it, placing the lives, well-being and the quality of lives of themselves and their children at risk.


October 1st, 2012
6:19 am

Have not heard of this show, but the second sentence of the post says it takes place in the 1950s when birth control as we know it today did not exist. I love Downton Abbey and have been through childbirth myself, but from TWG’s summary, I have zero interest in this show. I don’t need to see all those babies and the tragedies that are bound to happen. I’ll wait for DA to come back in January, thank you.


October 1st, 2012
7:28 am

For some reason, I’m just not interested. Not sure why. ;)


October 1st, 2012
7:36 am

Not interested. I am just back from a week in St Augustine, FL. I worked in 9 schools and enjoyed the beach. I had invited an older friend to join me the first part of the week, she is my mentor and my husband came the later part of the week. I had to call my friend to tell me how to work the TV in the condo, as I wanted to watch PERSON OF INTEREST premiere. I do not watch much TV and this show will not change my mind. Off to PUMPKIN TIME in schools…y’all have a great day!


October 1st, 2012
7:48 am

i don’t think ‘dole’ means what you think it means.


October 1st, 2012
8:43 am

Smug: contentedly confident of one’s ability, superiority, or correctness; complacent.
Also the definition: Mother Jane Goose


October 1st, 2012
8:50 am

Thanks Walsh…it is important to be confident of your ability if you are calling people to hire you. You did a wonderful job with that! Not sure about superiority but I am pretty correct with children and get told this most every day I work. Everyone in St. Augustine told me to let them know when I would be back to visit the children!

There are lots of OTHER THINGS I stink at : TV REMOTE CONTROLS are just one.


October 1st, 2012
9:52 am

Uh, no – I realize you only requested that “moms” set DVR’s and watch the show but I’m sure there are plenty of “moms” who feel, as I do, that this isn’t a series in which I have interest. And who even knows, with any degree of confidence, that the events being depicted are factual and, if so, to what extent?


October 1st, 2012
10:49 am


October 1st, 2012
10:57 am

on the dole in england means like welfare and food stamps here.


October 1st, 2012
10:59 am

Poor people were having too many babies. I’m shocked.


October 1st, 2012
11:27 am

Theresa, please delete the SPAM links at the top of the blog.


October 1st, 2012
11:28 am

I hear there are ground breaking shows on the new polio vaccine and milk pasteurization that will leave you speechless coming as well. New oven technology will also allow one to cook a roast in under 12 hours as well.


October 1st, 2012
11:47 am

Glad I watched it last night given the major spoiler you put in here. Geez, Theresa.


October 1st, 2012
1:02 pm

Enjoyed the acting. Dame Judy Parfitt’s character is great. The show, though, is ho-hum.


October 1st, 2012
1:03 pm

Like Jenny Agutter’s character, too, and “Chummy” looks like fun. Hopefully, the story line will improve.

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October 1st, 2012
1:14 pm

I watched twenty minutes or so. It may just be that my three bedside births have made me jaded, but the show was incredibly boring. Nice period costumes and some competent acting. Other than that, there’s not much to be attracted to unless you are stimulated by the indignity of a woman having 24 children.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

October 1st, 2012
1:37 pm

Jarvis – those are trackbacks where other blogs link to you — –

HB — sorry about the spoilers — should have put that at the top.


October 1st, 2012
3:36 pm

One of them is

Raisin Toast Fanatic

October 1st, 2012
3:44 pm

“The mothers are the bravestupid ones. Baby after baby in abominable conditions.

There you go, fixed that for her!


October 1st, 2012
3:50 pm

Have no desire to watch this. I have mine set to Once Upon Time, Simpsons, a couple of things on Food TV and Disney….


October 1st, 2012
5:30 pm

I’d watch it — it’s an interesting contrast to the health care available today. The historical perspectives have always intrigued me, we tend to forget just how far we’ve come in many areas.

who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men

October 1st, 2012
5:51 pm

“but it does make me grateful to be a mom today and not then”

I’m with you TWG..when I want to feel grateful for my life, I go to fictional TV dramas. I watched Moby Dick when I wanted to feel grateful for not being hunted by a big white whale…and that I have both my legs. I like to watch CSI to feel grateful for not being murdered. I avoid the news and reports from places like Darfur at all costs to feel grateful. Knowing real people suffer makes me lose sleep at night.