This article contains spoilers for House Of The Dragon episode one.
In the opening episode of House Of The Dragon, Queen Aemma Targaryen (Sian Brooke) goes into labour, but her husband King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) is soon informed the baby is breach.
The King is given the choice – save his wife or save the baby – and he chooses the heir. Queen Aemma is pinned down, screaming, while the baby is cut directly from her womb, leading to fatal blood loss. Hours later, the baby also dies.
Although the scene is fictional, set in a fantasy world without modern day healthcare, plenty of women online have described it as “triggering”, with some drawing comparisons to real-life birth experiences.
Traumatic birth being used as a plot device is nothing new, just look at the reaction BBC drama This Is Going To Hurt had among some mothers and pregnant woman earlier this year.
But on social media, women have described the House Of The Dragon scene as “particularly horrific”, with some reflecting on their own difficult births.
Some have criticised “over the top, gratuitous visuals” while others have pointed to the disturbing concept of a choice being made without the mother’s consent during labour.
The baby loss charity Tommy’s has also issued a warning around the scene.
“We’ve been made aware of a scene in Episode 1 of #HouseOfTheDragon which features a traumatic birth and baby loss,” the charity said on Twitter.
“We know this could be triggering if you’ve experienced loss or birth trauma. If you plan to watch and will be affected by this scene, you may want to skip it.
“If you’ve already watched the episode and have experienced loss or birth trauma yourself, we understand you might be struggling. We’re here for you. Support is available on our website – and you can speak to one of our midwives on firstname.lastname@example.org if you need advice.”
Others are drawing comparisons between House of the Dragon and the state of women’s reproductive rights in America following the repeal of the Roe vs Wade abortion law.
One woman described the episode as “a preview of what giving birth in a red state will look like soon,” while others have the episode “hit a little too close to home” within the context of valuing a pregnancy over a woman’s life.
Campaigners continue to fight for women’s reproductive rights to be reinstated in the US while in the UK, The Times newspaper was criticised by some this weekend for platforming anti-abortion views.
In Italy, there are warnings that abortion rights could be at risk while in the Dominican Republic, which has a total abortion ban, a mother has told of how her pregnant daughter died from cancer because doctors refused to start chemotherapy in case it harmed the foetus.
In an interview with Popsugar, Miguel Sapochnik, co-showrunner on House Of The Dragon, suggested producers knew the birth scene would be controversial.
“We did make a point of showing it to as many women as possible and asked the very question, ‘Was this too violent for you?’” he said. “And unanimously, the response was ‘no’. Often the response was, ‘No, if anything, it needs to be more.’
“It’s raising a point that... hits a real trigger for women, which is this idea of choice and that she doesn’t get to choose,” Sapochnik continued. “She’s effectively murdered by her husband. And that is a good indication of the state of play in this world that we’re inhabiting.”