A mum live streamed the birth of her daughter to an audience of 45,000 people on YouTube, because she wanted to prove labour isn’t always ‘scary’ or ‘gross’.
Siobhan Miller, 37, planned to have her fourth baby at home surrounded by her friends, children and strangers on the internet, to show childbirth can be ‘euphoric’.
She set up a camera in her living room and filmed herself breathing through contractions on a birthing ball.
But the calm scene was somewhat disrupted, when Siobhan dashed to thehospital to welcome her daughter, Fionnuala, one, on September 17, 2022, with the help of midwives.
Siobhan, a hypnobirthing teacher and owner of the Positive Birth Company, from Torquay, Devon, said: ‘I wanted to film myself. It’s my last baby and I wanted to have everything I could.
‘I thought I could film this and stream it so other people could see it. I desperately wanted to normalise birth.
‘Most people are terrified of birth. Some people think it is back-to-back pain for many hours, but it’s a contraction and breathing and then maybe you eat or breathe before another one.
‘If people get to see how labour can actually be – it’s quite boring. It can be the most wonderful day of your life.’
Siobhan found her first birth with son Oisin, 16, ‘traumatic’ after she had an induction and he had to be pulled out by forceps in February 2007.
She said: ‘It felt really terrifying. It left me feeling really incapable.’
When Siobhan fell pregnant again seven years later, she wanted to have a different birth experience and researched hypnobirthing – a method of pain management during childbirth that utilises therapeutic relaxation techniques, including deep breathing and motivational mantras.
She had a quick home birth and welcomed Arlo, eight, in December 2014.
She said: ‘It was the polar opposite. I felt euphoric. I felt like a superwoman – and that feeling lasted.’
Following her positive experience Siobhan trained in hypnobirthing and launched her company in 2015.
She went on to have a water birth in a birth centre for her third son, Ailbe, in March 2016 and decided to get professional photos of the moment.
‘When you get married you have a videographer and photographer, but when you give birth, it is not common,’ she said.
‘People think it is a bit disgusting. Now my son looks and can see himself being born. It’s very special.’
For her last baby Siobhan decided to take things one step further and live stream the whole experience.
‘Everything we see depicts birth as traumatic, it’s a skewed portrayal of birth,’ she said.
‘It ties in with how people think about birth typically – people think of it as gross and scary. But a change of mindset can show it can be empowering.’
Siobhan started having contractions in the evening of September 17, 2022, and had a birth pool and lights set up before turning her camera on.
She also paid around £300 for a photographer to take photos during the labour.
She said: ‘I thought at any point I can switch it off. I had a few friends, and my kids were there.’
Siobhan ‘forgot’ people were watching and laboured for an hour and 20 minutes before they made the decision to go to Torbay Hospital for the birth.
She said: ‘No midwives were available [to come to the house]. I felt the baby was starting to come.’
Siobhan was unable to continue the live stream at the hospital but gave birth to her little girl, weighing 8lbs 5oz, in a birthing pool at 10.07pm.
She said: ‘The birth itself was really lovely.
‘I was disappointed not to have a home birth. I was disappointed the live stream had to come to an abrupt end.
‘But I got to show labour can be. I wasn’t screaming. I wasn’t terrified. People got to see me breathing. They just missed the finale.’
Siobhan would love to give birth again, but has decided Fionnuala is her last baby.
She said: ‘I’d love to do it again and again. I absolutely love giving birth. The power in your body – it’s like a miracle.’
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