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Hospital Birth on Sesame Street

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Sesame Street turned 40 years old yesterday. Birth was among the many topics covered by the show’s writers, who sought to integrate the actors’ life experiences into the show.

The Wikipedia entry on the history of Sesame Street discusses the 1988 and 1989 story line that addressed Maria and Luis’ marriage, pregnancy and birth.

Sesame Street’s producers and writers began to use their cast member’s personal lives and real-life experiences to cover issues they wanted to address on the show. For the 1988 and 1989 seasons, the topics of love, marriage, and childbirth were addressed when they created a storyline in which the characters Luis and Maria fall in love, marry, and have a child, Gabi. Sonia Manzano, the actress who played Maria, had married and become pregnant; according to the book Sesame Street Unpaved, published after the show’s thirtieth anniversary in 1999, Manzano’s real-life experiences gave the show’s writers and producers the idea. Research was done before any scripts were written to gain an understanding of the previous studies about preschoolers’ understanding of love, marriage, and family. The show’s research staff found that at the time, there were very little relevant research done about children’s understanding of these topics, and no children’s books had been written for children about them. Research was also conducted by Sesame Street in order to target the areas in which children’s knowledge was the weakest. Studies done after the episodes about Maria’s pregnancy aired showed that as a result of watching these episodes, children’s understanding of pregnancy increased.


Episode 2615, in which Maria has her baby, is on YouTube and divided into two parts.

In the first half of the episode, Luis shows up looking sterile enough to perform surgery, then touches a pay phone and a grouch before returning to Maria’s side. Telly sounds like my grandpa, freaking out over the birth of the baby and, as usual, Gordon and Susan are the voice of reason. Oscar has an existential crisis because he’s happy about the baby coming, then turns to see Joe Piscopo and Roseanne Rosanneadanna walking down the hall with their newborn in a plastic bassinet.


Watch the first half of Sesame Street Episode 2615


Watch the second half of Sesame Street Episode 2615


The second half is when it all goes down. [Edit: I don’t know if it needs clarifying that “it all goes down” is an expression that means “it all happens,” not that it all goes downhill.]


Just another day in the life of NICU nurse Reality Rounds:



Luis tells the whole crowd that it’s a [spoiler alert].


Maria tells everyone how wonderful it was to feel the baby coming out of her.


I discover that not only are Big Bird and I both seven feet tall, but we were also wondering where the heck her baby was. Big Bird took a peek.


Maria explains that the nurses took the baby away to make sure [the baby of undisclosed gender] was okay, then the nurse brings her back and presents her to Maria on behalf of the institution.


The baby is cute and not hungry in the least.




Related Post:

Old-School Breastfeeding Televised: PBS Style

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    Coventry Telegraph staff give their views and opinions on the latest television programmes.

Reader Comments (8)

"presents her to Maria on behalf of the institution" - Exactly!

November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Romano

And, of course, the baby looks like a 3 month old and not a newborn. Isn't that how it always is when newborns are portrayed in film?

November 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjenne

Jenne, imagine what it must be like to let your baby be on TV. He's held by strangers, exposed to new germs, under harsh lights, etc. It's probably hard enough for a mom of a 3 month old -- I don't think any sane woman would expose a newborn to all that.

November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Potter

Jenne, I actually think this has to do with child labor laws or something. Here's a post I came across on this topic. If I remember correctly, in the movie "Look Who's Talking," the baby who plays the newborn Mikey (complete with the hemostats still on the umbilical cord) was whatever baby boy happened to have been just born at the time of filming the birth scene at the hospital, but that case is a rare exception, and since the baby is only filmed for a few minutes at most, probably wouldn't have violated laws.

November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

Michelle's reply is pretty clever.

Kathy, I don't think I've ever heard that or even considered that child labor laws played a part in why it's always a 3 month old with strawberry jelly on its head. I learned something new today. :)

November 11, 2009 | Registered CommenterJill

You know, I clearly remember watching a Sesame street episode in which a woman was breast feeding and explained to big bird that that was how her baby got everything it needed and got snuggle her at the same time. Interesting the difference in how Sesame Street chose to portray the two...on the other hand I remember both watching this episode as a small child AND going to meet my new baby sister at the hospital (probably around the same time even?) and this is more or less how I remember it experiencing it (y'know minus the muppets....). Hmm. I'm gonna be pondering this post a bit, I think. Thanks! Entertaining...

November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRy

I'll stick to showing my kids gentle birth videos on youtube. that and our own birth video from my second son's birth.

November 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermommymichael

"Just another day in the life of NICU nurse Reality Rounds"

So Hilarious. I just spewed wine all over my laptop...... You owe me some Sauvignon Blanc. BTW, I really do look like that, and dress like that. One day I will post my nursing graduation picture with the white nursing cap, permed hair,and "what did I get myself into" smile. One day when I am very brave.

November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterReality Rounds
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