The Maternity Ward, a fly-on-the-wall doc about the work of Lancashire's midwives, has a tired format but can't hide the miracle of childbirth

Becoming a parent is a miracle, people tell you, full of joy and smiles and Instagrammable shared family experiences. But what they don’t tell you is that having kids mainly involves boredom, terror and vast mountains of laundry .

Friday, 6th March 2020, 5:00 pm

Watching The Maternity Ward (5Star, Mon, 9pm) also showed that these perfectly turned out social media influencer parents don’t tell you about the pain and heartache involved in giving birth in the first place.

Centred on Royal Preston Hospital’s maternity unit – “a prime spot of Lancashire”, apparently – where 4,500 babies are born every year, this fly-on-the-wall doc follows a couple of parents-to-be as their baby makes its first appearance in the world.

This week, we saw nurse Katie, who has type one diabetes, which makes her pregnancy higher risk than normal, while dance teacher Ashleigh suffered from post-natal depression after the birth of her first child.

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Emma, Sue, Bex, Natalie and Kylie in The Maternity Ward, from Preston. Picture courtesy Chalkboard TV

The show itself is perfunctorily put together, using the usual fly-on-the-wall stuff – conversations about the merits of George Clooney vs David Beckham, a twee voiceover, and bit of comic relief involving a panic over a loose moth.

So far, so banal, but then one of the midwives reveals just how high the stakes are here. “Even with a low-risk birth,” she says, “at the drop of a hat, things can go wrong.”

And we see Katie being whisked into the operating theatre for an emergency C-section, and Ashleigh struggling after hours of painful labour and suddenly, without you realising, your heart’s in your mouth and you’re desperate for these slightly blue, slimy bundles of joy to arrive.

And when they do, and they’re healthy and the mums are well, you forget about the pain and boredom and laundry. And that’s the real miracle of childbirth.