Call the Midwife creator’s behind-the-scenes insights reveal the surprising way they get those perfect heart-warming shots

Call the Midwife creator Heidi Thomas has shared the rather unique way they get those sweet scenes with the real-life babies on the show...

Call the Midwife starring Helen George as Nurse Trixie Franklin, Linda Bassett as Nurse Phyllis Crane, Megan Cusack as Nurse Nancy Corrigan
(Image credit: BBC / Neal Street Productions / Ray Burmiston)

The Call the Midwife creator’s behind-the-scenes insights reveal the surprising way they get those perfect heart-warming shots of the babies for the hit BBC drama.

Whether it’s the prospect of Nancy leaving Call the Midwife or the scenes that left us anxious over who died in Call the Midwife season 11, the period drama knows how to deliver heartstoppingly emotional moments. The latest installment, Call the Midwife season 12, has recently finished in the UK and just started airing on PBS in the US and it certainly gave us some tearful moments. Though it’s not just the adult actors whose performances consistently wow. 

Call the Midwife expertly works with babies in each episode and according to the Call the Midwife creator Heidi Thomas, working with them can be a “tricky” process, though they have a surprising way to get perfect shots of them with their eyes open.

Heidi Thomas attends the 2016 Women Of Achievement Awards Gala

(Image credit: Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

The Call the Midwife creator’s behind-the-scenes insights came during an interview with Woman&Home in 2016. Heidi explained that their midwifery consultant Terri Coates is hugely caring toward all the babies and that she’s developed a very gentle way of getting them to open their eyes - blowing lightly on their toes! 

She said, “Our midwifery consultant Terri Coates cares for the babies so well and keeps the set so warm that they often sleep through the whole filming process. It can be tricky because newborns are normally wakeful so Terri blows on their toes to get them to open their eyes so we can get that little shot.”

Heidi also shared the startling revelation that whenever you hear one of the babies crying in Call the Midwife it’s often not really happening at the time. Instead, the creator said that it tends to be a recording as filming is typically stopped as soon as a baby really cries.

“Usually when you hear the sound of a baby crying in the show, it will be a recording because if a baby cries for real, Terri will just step in and stop filming,” she disclosed. “That's why when you hear crying, you'll often only see the back of the baby's head!”

Helen George as Nurse Trixie Franklin and James Alexandrou as Ronnie Reynolds

(Image credit: BBC / Neal Street Productions / Olly Courtenay)

This clever camera move means that many of us won’t have realized whilst watching Call the Midwife that the baby isn’t actually moving their mouth in a cry in these scenes. But the Call the Midwife creator’s behind-the-scenes insights aren’t the only filming secrets that have ever been shared about the BBC period drama… 

Do they deliver real babies on Call the Midwife? 

The babies who are delivered in Call the Midwife are real although of course they aren’t actually being born on the show. The BBC drama's series producer Ann Tricklebank previously explained to RadioTimes that shooting a baby being born in Call the Midwife can take “at least five hours” and that rehearsals are key with Terri Coates helping to advise. 

“One baby being born on screen will take at least five hours to shoot, and very often the actor playing the mother will never have had a baby herself. So first of all we have to rehearse what that experience is like. Our midwifery adviser Terri Coates puts the actor through the birthing process following the structure of that week’s story, whether the birth is at home or in hospital or in the back of a car,” she said. 

Helen George as Nurse Trixie Franklin holding a baby in Call the Midwife

(Image credit: BBC / Neal Street Productions / Emma Barrott)

She revealed that they also rehearse with a silicone baby that looks very realistic but that by the time of shooting the final scene they make the switch to a real infant. 

“We rehearse the birth with what we call a ‘jelly baby’, which is essentially a silicone model that feels and looks just like a real baby. But when the time comes to shoot, we use a real baby,” Ann shared. “We pass it under the actor’s thigh and she brings it up, holding the baby and its umbilical cord, which is made of silicone, and then she holds it against its tummy.”

Where did they get the babies from for Call the Midwife? 

Though it’s perhaps only natural to wonder whether any of the babies in Call the Midwife are the cast or production crew member’s children, this wasn’t the case. According to, for season 1 the production team asked midwives at a maternity unit if they knew anyone who would be happy to bring their babies on to the set. Since the debut season, though, restrictions have changed and now they are all recruited through a talent agency.  

Judy Parfitt as Sister Monica Joan

(Image credit: BBC / Neal Street Productions / Emma Barrott)

Series producer Ann explained to RadioTimes that they’re still inundated with requests from viewers to feature their babies in Call the Midwife.

“Lots of eager parents contact us and say, ‘We are having a baby, would you like it on the show?’ But the reality is that we need our newborns at very specific times due to the filming schedule, and so we get most of our babies through a specialist talent agency,” she said. 

So sadly for any Call the Midwife fans hoping for their own child to be featured on the show it seems like this isn't really a possibility. However, the birth scenes and moments featuring adorable babies on the show are nonetheless magical and Call the Midwife wouldn't be the same without these tiny stars.

Call the Midwife season 12 airs on Sundays at 8pm ET on PBS.

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!