Do You Want to Watch a Home Birth Live on the Internet?

People learn by observing. Before walking, we observe other people doing it. Before riding a bicycle, we watch others doing it. Before driving a car, swimming, or even skydiving, we observe others before we jump in. So often, however, women are expected to jump feet first into experiences that they have never observed first hand. Breastfeeding and childbirth are two of those experiences. Women hear that they are difficult, yet important and that often makes them much scarier than they need to be.

In August, I wrote a post encouraging mothers to breastfeed in front of teenagers to help normalize breastfeeding and promote inter-generational learning. I wrote:

Breastfeeding is normal and natural, but it isnít always easy. A lot of mothers find it awkward, difficult, and may even see it as disgusting or off-putting. In large part, this stems from the fact that they havenít seen women nursing their babies as part of every day life, in the same way that they see women walking their babies in strollers, giving them pacifiers or bottles, or playing peek-a-boo. Men are often concerned about their wives breastfeeding in public because they donít want them exposing their breasts. Unfortunately, these attitudes come about because breastfeeding is so often hidden away and done only in the privacy of the family home or at best under a nursing cover in a public space. In order for breastfeeding to seem normal and natural, it needs to be visible. It needs to be something that everyone has seen and everyone is familiar with. It shouldnít be something that people see as awkward or disgusting.

When it comes to childbirth, the situation is very similar.† By the time they are walking into a hospital timing their contractions, most women have never seen another woman give birth. If they have, it was probably a highly medicalized, sensationalized and edited birth, such as the ones show on TV shows like A Baby Story. For many women, this means that they see birth as a scary event requiring significant medical interventions where the doctors are the ones in control.

Now, using the Internet, a number of women are stepping up and trying to change people’s views of birth and also help better prepare women for their birth experience. Recently, a woman called Talina who writes at Harvest of Daily Life gave birth at The Farm Midwifery Center in Summertown, Tennessee. In her post about the live birth (note: post includes embedded videos that include nudity), Talina notes that around 2,000 people followed the labor and birth on August 29th and 30th, 2011.† Numerous people engaged in discussions about birth on twitter as they watched.

Now, Nancy Salgueiro (pictured in image at top of the article), an Ottawa birth coach, chiropractor and mother of two, is planning to broadcast her home birth live on the Internet. Dr. Nancy, as she is known, has been supporting women through pregnancy and birth for a third of her life and loves “inspiring and empowering women to know that they can do it and that they are powerful.”† Her expected due date is October 7, 2011, which means that she could go into labor at any time.

In her invitation to watch her birth live on the Internet (note: some nudity in images on invitation page), Dr. Nancy writes:

If you are pregnant or thinking about it, think you want a natural birth, and donít know what to expect, then this invitation will allow you to be experience my home birth so you can see how wonderful and gentle birth can be.

She goes on to encourage mothers-to-be to watch as many videos of good births as they can. Dr. Nancy says that people who choose to watch her birth will be able to see how a woman behaves in labor, watch how birth unfolds, see a great support team in action, and see how her children (age 2 and 5) experience childbirth.

In this video, a young woman called Becky talks about what it was like to be at the birth of Dr. Nancy’s son and explains how it changed her view of birth.

Seeing childbirth, whether in person or on the Internet, can change society’s perceptions of it. Instead of seeing birth as a scary, painful medical event, women can become empowered, calm, prepared and confident in their ability to birth a baby.

Have you ever seen a woman give birth? What was your experience?

Would you watch a birth online?

Will you be signing up to follow Dr. Nancy’s home birth?

Related stories:

We Need Mothers to Breastfeed in Front of Teenagers

Doctors Say More Women Should Give Birth at Home

New VBAC Guidelines: Information and Choice for Women

Photo used with permission by Nancy Salgueiro.


Save Animals P.
Angie P2 years ago

No, don't want to watch this.

annie s.
christine s5 years ago

I m going to be really unpopular but I think breast feeding in public is fine ,as long as it's discreet . Nobody HAS to show themselves off just because they are feeding a baby ,we go to the loo but we don't do it in front of other people ,so why is breast feeding supposed to be ok ?---women's breasts have been exploited by men for years ,is it any wonder people find it a conflict, I sometimes think it's the fact that women can suddenly expose themselves ( without being arrested for indecent behavior) ,under any other circumstance it would be an offense. I am not a prude but it does seem like ,one law for pregnant women and another for those who are not . I breast fed my kids but nobody ever saw ( I wouldn't have been so selfish to assume i had a perfect right to embarrass people ,make them feel awkward or just plain upset people----which you can easily do ). Like I said ,if a woman exposed her breasts on a bus she'd be arrested but having a baby attached makes it ok, if women were not exploited in the way they are ,then feeding a baby would be natural but it's will never be alright until we stop viewing breasts as sexual . They say boobs are only sexual because they resemble a bottom cleavage . I 'm sure none of you will agree with me but that's just how I feel.

myra d.
myra d6 years ago

not me but it's her right to do and people's right to choose

Jon Culver
Jonathon C6 years ago

I'm fine with this idea. I was a home water birth myself.

Annie Urban
Annie Urban6 years ago

Will R.

In a normal birth, nurses wouldn't be tutting around treating you like you are in the way. They would be getting out of the way except for the very minimal amount of monitoring that is needed. Our nurse was very good at staying out of the way and letting my partner and my doula give me the comfort and support that I needed. The doctor came in for the last 120 seconds just to catch the baby.

Bill K.
Bill K6 years ago

i didn't even watch my own

Yvette S.
Past Member 6 years ago


Hilary E.
Hilary E6 years ago

I kind of think people are missing the point of this article. It's not trying to say that everyone should just start watching random videos of births. The point is that for pregnant women or women thinking about having children it is a good idea to be familiar with the true natural birth process. I am 6 months pregnant and can genuinely say I'm not afraid to give birth. I'm not afraid of the pain. Pain is a part of life that is meant to be experienced. That doesn't mean I won't have nervousness when it comes closer but I feel confident enough about the way my body works to know that labor doesn't have to be this horrible experience. When people tell me I'm brave for doing a home birth it just doesn't make sense. Hospitals are way scarier than my own home. Women have been having babies's how the human race continues to exist.

Jessica Van Orman

no thanks but i will say great for her to speak about giving birth and breastfeeding! educating people is great