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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 October 2006, 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK
Live TV birth branded 'intrusive'
The feet of a newborn baby
There should be "no external stress factors" for women, the college says
A broadcaster's plan to screen the birth of a child live on TV would be "intrusive" for all of those involved, a medical body has warned.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said Five's Birth Night Live could disrupt the "calm environment" the patient deserved.

"Predicting the outcome of any labour is difficult", the organisation said.

Five promised to "immediately withdraw" if there was the "slightest indication" of any danger to a mother or her child.

"The programme is intended as a celebration of childbirth," the channel said in a statement.

"We take our responsibility extremely seriously and do not wish to interfere with normal procedures, but we are not shying away from showing that childbirth is also unpredictable."

'Pioneering operations'

Several women will be monitored in the run-up to the programme in the hope that one of them will give birth during the two hours on-air.

Gabby Logan
Gabby Logan is hosting Five's live coverage this Sunday evening

However, presenter Gabby Logan will have a range of other material to draw on, including interviews with celebrities about related experiences, for the live broadcast from the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham.

"During the programme we will be highlighting a number of stories of women giving birth to babies who would not be alive if it weren't for pioneering operations performed whilst in the womb," Five said.

But Richard Warren, the honorary secretary of the college, argued that a woman who is giving birth "should do so in a calm environment where she feels safe".

"All hospitals make every effort to ensure that women have no external stress factors.

"This is not possible if a full film crew is present in the delivery room recording every event as it unfolds," he said.

'Unduly risky'

The programme had the potential "for influencing the woman's experience and the outcome as well as being intrusive for the hospital staff", Mr Warren said.

The college, which advises the government on healthcare issues, aims to "improve and maintain proper standards" and produces guidelines "for appropriate practice and procedures" during childbirth.

The National Childbirth Trust also criticised the programme.

Chief executive Belinda Phipps said: "While broadcasting a birth on television may have an educational function, we feel broadcasting the programme live is irresponsible, unnecessary and unduly risky."

Sunday's broadcast is not the first of its kind.

In 2001, five children were born live on US TV on an ABC programme called Super Baby Tuesday.

But Five claimed it would be the first time it had been attempted in the UK.

The show is to feature "the inevitable anxieties, the incredible dramas, the miracle of modern medical techniques, but above all the amazing joy a new birth brings", said Alex Sutherland, the head of live factual events at Five.

Is it intrusive for Five to show a child being born on live TV?
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