Out in the middle of the woods, far from any medical attention, six women have elected to give birth alongside Mother Nature, and they’ve invited Lifetime’s reality cameras to capture their experiences.
“Born in the Wild,” a controversial new docuseries begins its six-episode run on March 3, with a premiere episode about a couple who opts to have their baby unassisted—meaning no doctors, no doulas, no midwives—in a remote area in the woods.
“We are about 100 miles from the nearest road,” the father-to-be explains in the graphic trailer for the premiere.
Producer Yoshi Stone said that the women involved in the shocking series were determined to give birth in the woods with or without the cameras. Producers scoured birth forums and midwives and doula groups to find participants who fit their casting requirements—women who wanted to have their babies out in the wild. The goal of the Lifetime show was to document the cast members as they went through with their birth plans, he explained.
“We were with each couple for a varying length of time depending on labor and delivery,” Stone told FOX411. “Each couple had the care that they were planning on having with or without our involvement.”
He said many of the women used midwives or doulas—though the couple in the premiere opted to give birth unassisted. None of the women in the six-episode series were assisted by doctors, he said.
So what if something had gone terribly wrong during one of the episodes?
“We did offer additional medical options that may not have been in their birth plan but we did not insist on any of it,” Stone said. “Our team was there in a documentary capacity not a medical one so in the event there had been some kind of medical [emergency] we would have done our best to document it as was in the couple’s birth plan.”
Stone added the crew always had access to satellite phone coverage, “Our communication systems were at their beck and call should it become necessary.”
But that may not have been enough if there was a true emergency. Dr. Manny Alvarez, the FOX News Channel's Senior Managing Editor for Health News and the Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center, said that most birth complications during delivery “occur within minutes.”
“I think it is quite clear that on the medical level… that this could endanger the newborn as well as the mother,” Alvarez said. “If you look statistically, for example, at home births versus births that are done under clinical supervision, there’s a difference in outcomes, and if you’re not ready for an acute emergency during delivery [that] is when a baby can get damaged or a mother could get hurt.”
Stone said the couples on the series had “emergency protocol plans” and that a risk assessment company evaluated each couple before they were allowed to participate in the series. None of the parents involved in the show were first-time parents.
“It was a pretty long [vetting] process from first contact to actually arriving and following them during the process,” Stone explained. “It varied somewhat from couple to couple but for most part it was weeks and months.”
Alvarez said the show is “piggy backing on women giving birth at home or in birthing centers,” and he was adamant that women shouldn’t look to the show to get any ideas.
“I hope that this is seen as an entertainment piece rather than a suggestion to make other women convinced that this is going to be a trend that should be supported,” Alvarez advised. “I do not support it. I think it’s crazy.”
Stone insisted it was not the show’s goal to promote the practice of giving birth in the wild.
“Obviously I can’t predict what the reaction to the show will be but I know that childbirth is a very hot topic for a lot of people and I know that people make different choices… We were focusing on a group of people who chose to be outdoors,” Stone said.“It’s certainly not our intention to influence anyone’s choices surrounding birth.”
He said, rather, the show hopes to spark conversations about childbirth.
“I do think if we contribute to the conversation about birth in America that’s a positive,” he said.
He said that the topic of childbirth provided “a very rich soil for telling human stories” and that viewers who are shocked by the idea of the series should give it a chance.
“I think there has been this impression that we are ‘reality television’—the kind of exploitive and underhanded production that is looking to take advantage of people or laugh at people— and I don’t think that is what we are doing,” Stone said. “We are making a compelling show about a compelling subject matter and I think we are treating it with respect.”