A mother live streamed the birth of her baby to 45,000 strangers to show people that labour can be ‘euphoric’ as opposed to ‘traumatic’.
Siobhan Miller, 37, wanted to birth her ‘last’ baby at home surrounded by her friends, children – and strangers watching on YouTube.
The mother-of-four had hired a professional photographer for the birth of her third son, Ailbe, seven, and loved it so much she decided to take it one step further and film her next birth.
Siobhan, a hypnobirthing teacher, wanted to show that birth isn’t ‘terrifying’ or ‘gross’; but rather a phenomenal experience, so she set up a camera in her living room and broadcast it live to 45,000 people. Those who chose to tune in would have seen her breathing through contractions on a birthing ball.
But, due to a lack of midwives, Siobhan had to rush to Torbay Hospital, South Devon, to welcome her now-one-year-old daughter Fionnuala on September 17, 2022, at 10.07pm weighing 8lbs 5oz.
Siobhan, owner of the Positive Birth Company, from Torquay, Devon, said: ‘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.’
Siobhan added: ‘If people get to see how labour can actually be – it’s quite boring.
‘It can be the most wonderful day of your life.’
She found her first birth with son Oisin, 16, ‘traumatic’ after she had an induction and he had to be pulled out my forceps in February 2007.
‘It felt really terrifying,’ Siobhan said. ‘It left me feeling really incapable.’
When she fell pregnant again seven years later, she wanted to have a different birth experience and researched hypnobirthing.
Siobhan 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.
Siobhan said: ‘I had an amazing day of my life [for the birth of her second child] but I had no photographic record of it. My only regret was not having a single photo.’
People get videographers and photographers for their weddings but not for births because they think it is ‘a bit disgusting,’ she said.
‘Now my son looks and can see himself being born,’ Siobhan added. ‘It’s very special.’
For her last baby, Siobhan decided to take it to the next level and capture the moment on film – and she chose to live stream it.
She said she felt confident having given birth a number of times and wanted to contribute a depiction of birth that wasn’t ‘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. 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 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.
‘I’d love to do it again and again,’ she said. ‘I absolutely love giving birth.
‘The power in your body – it’s like a miracle.’