The pregnancies of eight women from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia will unfold over the next six months as a television series becomes a textbook on prenatal care.
The live series, "Nine Months," will make public the changes and challenges in the lives of expectant mothers from a variety of lifestyles and situations. They range from a 15-year-old from Southeast Washington to a 36-year-old married woman with two children who lives in Annandale, Va. All are due to deliver their babies between March 15 and April 1, 1991.
"Anything can happen," says Darcy Corcoran, who is producing the experimental series for WETA (Channel 26), Washington's public broadcasting station. The series of half-hour programs debuted at noon today; each segment will be shown three times.
The eight women were chosen from more than 100 candidates for the series. They represent various racial, social and economic backgrounds and family situations. There is, for instance, Malisia, who is 17, married with a 4-month-old son and living in Rockville; there is also 26-year-old Lori, who is divorced and living in Southeast Washington with her 7-year-old daughter, and 28-year-old Sarah from Chevy Chase, who is married and expecting her first child. Because of their ages, medical conditions and lifestyles, several of the women are considered to be at-risk and several would be expected to have normal pregnancies.
Most of the 24-week series will be filmed in the studio, with some of the women talking each week about what is happening in their lives and pregnancies. "We will talk about what they are interested in at each stage," said Corcoran. "I can plan ahead, but if something changes, we'll throw the plan out the window." Corcoran has permission to film some of the deliveries, and these are definitely in her program plans.
Several segments will include doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals involved with expectant mothers; the mates and families of the women will also appear, Corcoran said. Occasionally, the series will go on location with the women -- to their doctors, their homes, their jobs.
There will also be four or five call-in shows, during which viewers can question the professionals and the women, Corcoran said.
The intent of the series is to help all women, particularly those at risk of having small or premature babies, understand their pregnancies and seek proper medical attention, said Jan Du Plain, director of communications for WETA.
The station is planning several educational activities connected with the series, including distribution of pregnancy education materials to area high schools and of tapes of the series to clinics, libraries, schools and hospitals.
"Nine Months" can be seen on Channel 26, available on the city's cable network, at noon Tuesday, 9 a.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday. The series continues through April. 24.