How House of the Dragon's Birth Scenes Are Thematically Different

House of the Dragon season 1 co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik reveals the thematic differences between the graphic birth scenes in the Game of Thrones prequel series. Sapochnik directed episodes 1 and 6 for House of the Dragon season 1, which included scenes of Aemma, Rhaenyra, and Laena giving birth. Sapochnik will be leaving the series after directing at least one more episode, but will remain an executive producer, while writer Ryan Condal is left as the sole House of the Dragon showrunner.


House of the Dragon received backlash for its bloody depiction of birth in the first episode, with King Viserys making the brutal decision of trying to save the baby via Cesarean delivery, knowingly sacrificing Queen Aemma in the process. Rhaeynra then faces the same duty as her mother after a 10-year time jump, giving birth to her third son before being forced to walk through the castle immediately after to present the child to Queen Alicent. Daemon’s now wife Laena also has a birthing scene in episode 6, but when she faces the same situation as Aemma, she chooses death by dragonfire to end her life on her own terms. While House of the Dragon may be depicting multiple birth scenes, each one has its own underlying implications related to the future of the child and mother.

Related: The Curse of Harrenhal Explained & How It Affects Game Of Thrones

Sapochnik describes the differences between the birth scenes on The Official Game of Thrones Podcast: House of the Dragon, explaining that Laena has agency compared to Aemma in her decision to kill herself rather than die via Cesarean section. In comparison, Rhaeynra’s birth scene stands out as the only one with a happy ending for both the mother and child, which Sapochnik says was to show the ecstasy and multifaceted emotions of giving birth, instead of only the pain and trauma. Read his full comments below:

Laena's birth is different to Aemma’s birth in that Laena has agency, she has a choice, she makes a choice. We actually had named that thematically impasse, there was an insurmountable obstacle. She could not pass it and she had to make a choice. But it was hers. Aemma’s birth was torture, which very much is what people took away from it. And there was a lot of discussion about the images we were using. It's interesting that if you actually were to dissect that scene, there's a very, there's only one incision, there's very little gory violence. It’s the holding her down and her screaming and her performance. Sian Phillips is absolutely amazing.

And then the second birth, which is Rhaenyra’s as episode 6 is opening, we call the agony and the ecstasy because we wanted to make sure that there was an understanding that birth isn't just a horrific experience. It's multifaceted. It's the endorphins that are released after giving birth are strong enough that you forget that you squeezed an infant out of you, like you made a human being, it's like, it's crazy. That's why we did it all on their face. It was very important for us at that point. We were introducing a character and what better way to introduce a character than at their most kind of traumatic moment. And also to see what that character is made of, because especially when Rhaenyra gives birth, gets the baby, who's the most incredible child actor I've ever worked with in my life, only 3 weeks old, God knows. Blew my mind. Insane. Anyway, so Rhaenyra gives birth and then she's immediately faced with a challenge, which is her relationship with Alicent. It's the functionality of giving birth, that you're producing heirs, that they need to be checked, etc, etc. And then there's one more, which I'm not gonna spoil your experience.

Birth Scenes Are Key To House Of The Dragon's Story, Too

Aemma in bed in house of the dragon

House of the Dragon’s birth scenes have a lot riding on them, both narratively and thematically. Aemma and Rhaenyra's scenes have demonstrated the royal court's obsession with producing male heirs, and the former's death in the show's premiere episode has been a key influence in the events that have followed. Just as Aemma's passing profoundly impacted Viserys, Laena's death in episode 6 could do the same for Daemon, though given his nature, it's equally likely that he gets himself into trouble by getting over her far too quickly.

The birth scenes in House of the Dragon can be brutal to watch, but each is done with a purpose that drives the show forward. While Rhaenyra's successful birth has only advanced claims against her children's legitimacy, House of the Dragon episode 7 images have shown that Laena's funeral will bring the spread-out characters back together. The impact of the fourth birth scene teased by Sapochnik remains to be seen, but what's already been shown will surely rank as some of the season's most memorable moments for fans.