Mum live-streams the birth of her fourth child to 45,000 people on YouTube
and live on Freeview channel 276
A mum live-streamed her birth to 45,000 strangers – and paid for a professional photographer to capture the moment to show labour isn't "scary" or "gross".
Siobhan Miller, 37, wanted to give birth to her fourth baby at home surrounded by her friends, children – as well as strangers watching on YouTube. The mum 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” and can be “euphoric”. She set up a camera in her living room which filmed her breathing through contractions on a birthing ball and broadcast it live to 45,000 people.
But, due to a lack of midwives, Siobhan had to rush to Torbay Hospital, South Devon, to welcome her daughter, Fionnuala, one, on September 17, 2022, at 10.07pm weighing 8lbs 5oz.
Siobhan, 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. 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.
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. When you get married you have a videographer and photographer. But when you give birth, it is not common. 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 she wanted to have a video of the moment – and chose to live-stream it. She said: “I feel confident because I’ve given birth a number of times. Everything we see depicts birth as traumatic. It’s a skewed portrayal of birth. 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 was in labour 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. 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."
Follow Siobhan @thepositivebirthcompany