Did your favorite show make the list?

By Marisa Cohen
Updated July 21, 2017
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A surefire way to get the tear ducts flowing, childbirth scenes have always been a popular way to reel in TV viewers. But how accurately do they depict what a real-life birth is like? Here are some labor scenes from beloved past and present shows, ranked from totally out there to totally real.

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It’s actually fairly common when you’re pregnant to dream about giving birth to a kitten, a fish, or some other kind of creature, but in real life, 100 percent of humans give birth to other humans. However, in the land of Westeros, women give birth to dragons and shadow demons. And they’re not even dreaming!


There were four major birth scenes over 10 seasons of Friends. And amazingly, three of those involved pregnancies that would have almost certainly resulted in C-sections in real life, but the 'C-word' was never once mentioned. First, Phoebe gave birth to triplets—triplets!—vaginally. It’s not impossible, but almost unheard of in American hospitals. In real life, she would have been considered high-risk, on bed rest for the last few weeks, with a planned surgery—certainly not handed off to whichever random Fonzie-obsessed doctor was on call. Then after a fairly realistic depiction of Rachel going through labor in season 8, her doctor realizes at the very last minute that the baby is breech (tushie first). Most doctors would have realized this well before the pushing stage and either tried to turn the baby or insisted on a C-section. Then in the final season, there is the bizarre moment when the doctor doesn’t mention until after the first baby has been born that Erica (the birth mom to Chandler and Monica’s babies) is having twins! Wait, what??


If you count the first movie, two of the four main characters on this show go through childbirth. Miranda’s birth scene is pretty realistic, and her later depictions of painful breastfeeding and the exhaustion of motherhood are pretty spot-on. But what we learned when Charlotte’s water broke after running into Mr. Big in a restaurant is that you can go into labor simply from getting angry at your best friend’s ex. If bringing on labor were so easy, no one would ever go past their due date!


We’re still not over the tragic death of rebellious Lady Sybil when she dies from eclampsia after giving birth to a girl with Tom Branson, her former chauffeur. While we mostly watched the British series as an escape into the glamorous life of the Crawley clan, this sweaty birth and death scene was almost too realistically painful to watch.


As with Phoebe in Friends, This Is Us depicted birth scene with triplets—and another plot twist where the original doctor couldn’t make it to the delivery room! But instead of being played for laughs, this one goes straight for the heart. As Jack watches Rebecca go into distress during labor, you get the sense of what it’s really like to be in the hospital room during a delivery of multiples. The sadness of losing one of the babies is tempered with the hope and joy of adopting the little boy left in the nursery, who instantly becomes one of the “Big Three.”


This British series on PBS about midwives delivering babies to working-class women in 1960s London is so realistic you almost feel like you’re watching real babies being born (and they do use tiny newborns in the birth scenes, not the plumped-up older babies trying to pass as 7-pounders in other TV shows). The moms are sweaty, makeup-free, huffing and grunting like in real life, and the stages of labor, the complications, and the raw emotions are presented in startling realistic fashion. Whether you lament the medicalization of modern birth or thank your lucky stars for your epidural, you will definitely feel like you’re witnessing something very real.