Childbirth Live: The Streaming of Nancy's Salgueiro's Homebirth

As pregnant women navigate the internet in search of a caregiver and a place to birth, some may end up opening a web page describing a birth center, and read a description such as:

“Imagine being respected for your choices of where and how to birth your family. The lights are dimmed, the room is quiet. You know who the people are in this room. You feel supported in a way that relaxes your body and allows you to feel safe. Trust prevails in the space. You can feel your body settling down. Your body knows how to do this. Your baby knows how to be born into this world.  You and your baby are doing this together, with the support of those who love you.”  **
The expectant woman sighs deeply, closes her eyes and gives thanks for having encountered professionals whose philosophy of childbirth appear to be completely congruent with  her hopes and dreams of a woman/baby/family-centered  birth.

Lovely.

Would they also share her vision of having this transformational experience viewed by those who subscribe to watch it streamed live on the internet?  I sincerely hope so.
Welcome  readers to Nancy Salgueiro’s world!

This past Saturday, Nancy live-streamed her third child’s homebirth on the Internet for all the (subscribing) world to see.  From Salgueiro’s website:

“If you are pregnant or thinking about it, think you want a natural birth, and don’t know what to expect, then this invitation will allow you to  experience my home birth so you can see how wonderful and gentle birth can be.”

There are those who contend that live streaming the birth undermined the sanctity and privacy championed so eloquently by the Ina Mae Gaskins and Michel Odents of the birthing world.   Others have labeled it “publicity.”  One birth professional concluded it was a “side show event.” I hold a different opinion.

While Nancy’s decision may have offended some or shocked others, her choice of how to experience the birth was just that…her choice. She views birth as a joyous, safe and loving celebration and wanted others to have the opportunity to observe, witness and be inspired by watching hers. Women receive a barrage of negativity about labor and birth….isn’t her confident and upbeat attitude a welcome alternative?  Her homebirth brought the Six Healthy Care Practices of Lamaze into action!

While initially writing this post,  Salgueiro was at 40 weeks and 7 days of her pregnancy.  How many women have a positive role model for patiently waiting for labor to initiate on its own?  How many women may have, and will continue to, learn via Nancy’s experience,  that 40 weeks isn’t a deadline or an expiration date that necessarily requires induction to avoid?

Perhaps my willingness to embrace the idea of permitting observers, stems from the welcoming way it was presented to me by  the Dutch midwife who attended my first baby’s homebirth in Amsterdam in 1982. During a monthly visit, she proposed that I  attend another woman’s home birth and  asked whether  another pregnant mama  might come  and observe me during mine. In that typical, straight forward manner that characterized any suggestions my midwife made, it was presented as an option.  I remember my guest observer walking in after sunrise. It was just a couple of hours before my baby emerged and, I’ll  admit, I didn’t hesitate to “uninvite” this woman after the short while she spent in my living room sitting tensely on the edge of her chair, biting her lip, furrowing her brow and making all kinds of tut tutting sounds and sighs!    Even though my experience of having a guest observer wasn’t a favorable one, it was easily resolved by asking her to leave. Like Nancy, I could exercise complete self determination about my environment and could decide who would be present for my birth.  How wondrous if birthing women in the Americas had this kind of authority!

Nancy’s situation was different in that her observers were not physically present. Though there may have been thousands observing her, they were not sharing her physical space. Contrast that with women who endure the onslaught of unknown nurses, obstetricians, assistants, residents, interns and  technicians at their births. Or simply a change of caregiver at the last minute because their preferred attendant isn’t “on call.” The camera lens in Nancy’s home  simply  represented the faceless internet viewers who had submitted their requests to watch her birth.  Why is the former accepted, while the later provoked horror?

I find the furor over her decision a bit confusing.  When a woman reclaims her right to birth within the privacy of her own home, often because the clamor and intrusiveness of strangers in an institution is objectionable to her, we herald that step.  Why recoil  from a woman  just because she decides to share her triumph with others via the internet?   Is it the immediacy of the telecast that frightened or perturbed us?   Does a video have to be edited first? Would we have tolerated it better if it had been set to mood-enhancing music?

As a doula, I have participated in nearly 900 births and probably had a video camera present for nearly one hundred  of them. Only once did a laboring woman direct  her husband to shut the camera off.  He of course, complied.  More often, all of us completely forgot about the taping!  This holds true   especially when the video camera is simply set upon a tripod and turned on without further adjustments  to the  lighting or sound.   Then again, some video camera operators have been incorporated seamlessly into the tapestry of birth.

Although not a television owner myself, I am aware of the national syndicated television program  “A Baby Story” whose parent company claims is  “ a voyeuristic peek at the drama of labor and the sheer joy and relief of the unforgettable birth moment.” Viewers are invited to  “share in the experience and all the emotions parents feel when they first greet their newborn.”   A production crew enters the woman’s private sanctum  to film, and later is given the authority to edit what has been taped!  I met one participant, Mindy Goorchenko, who provided the video (filmed by her husband) to the Discovery Channel with hopes of  demystifying and promoting normalcy in a twin birth.  She was dismayed when the televised version was edited in a way that made it appear as though an emergency had just narrowly been averted!!  With live streaming, there is no editing. There is no personal point of view by a producer or a director. Is this immediacy what makes it so formidable to some members and activists within the  birth community?

When I taught childbirth classes  to hundreds of pregnant women in a behemoth regional hospital in Mexico, I used an activity to underline the uniqueness of each woman’s pregnancy and birth. I would share a small sheet of paper and a pencil with each participant and ask her to either write  a word or phrase, or to draw something simple that would convey something unique about her baby’s conception. The hundreds of entries (none of which were signed)  conveyed graphically that  babies were conceived in homes, hotels, beaches, or cars.  That they were conceived on floors, mats, hammocks, beds, sleeping bags and with privacy or without. The women conceiving were joyful, scared, or sad.  The babies were conceived at different times of the day (usually just indicated by suns, stars and moons) and by women  who were seeking to be impregnated and those hopeful that they wouldn’t.   My goal in offering this “dinamica” or “activity” was to underscore that just as each woman had a unique-to-her memory, situation or position at conception, it was unfathomable that at the moment of birth they would all want or need to birth the same.  And so it follows that just as there is someone like  Nancy Salgueiro, who was eager to share her birth, there will be women who find the idea abhorrent. But there is room in the birth community for both!!!

Certainly no matter how many books she sells or how many new blog subscribers she obtains as a result of the publicity surrounding her child’s birth, Nancy offered a gift to the world.  For the viewers who previously thought birth was too painful to contemplate without anesthesia, or that birth can only be accomplished in an OR, or with the  woman exhorted to push by “experts,” Salgueiro’s live-streamed birth might end up having been transformational. Many professional caregivers who know the theory behind delayed cord clamping might not have ever seen it done before.  For the many educators, doulas and birthing families who dream of experiencing a birth in which the Healthy Birth Practices are a reality rather than what sometimes feels like a distant goal, this birth may have re-inspired.

The Salgueiro’s son was born at 3:18am on October 16th.  Baby Oziah  weighed 6 pounds 10 ounces (3.1kg) and arrived peacefully at home in the presence of family and friends. Active labor progressed very quickly and the midwives arrived shortly after the birth.  The video is already available, here.  To view, click on the text box and enter the password naturalbirthrocks.

Nancy will be re-streaming the birth and recording it on to Ustream so it will be available for viewing for those who feel better knowing the outcome before watching.

A postscript:
If the intimacy and immediacy of Nancy’s birth still doesn’t fulfill your expectations for observing birth,   then consider Marni Kotak.
She will transform an art gallery into a birth center and thus turn the birth of her first baby into art.
“I think if people give birth in the completely inhospitable environment of hospitals, hooked up to IVs and monitors and strapped with stirrups into a bed, I can give birth in an art gallery.”

Posted by: Joni Nichols, BS, MS, CCE, CD(DONA)

**(excerpted from  http://gracefullbirthing.com/)

8 Comments

Childbirth Live: The Streaming of Nancy's Salgueiro's Homebirth

October 18, 2011 07:00 AM by Rosie
"Her homebirth brought the Six Healthy Care Practices of Lamaze into action!" Beautifully said Joni! How often do I share with people that I learn something from each and every baby? Oh how much we learned from Baby Oziah! 1. Let labor begin on it's own. Bingo! Even when Nancy's family came for the birth and then had to go home she waited...even when she had many days and nights of pre-labor she was not anxious, but simple trusting. 2. Walk around and Change Positions. As a doula who's attended over 300 births I tell people to "Live life until you get the urge to push". As we watched Nancy hanging out with her kiddos, eating, playing, working, her positions changed in the normal course of the evenings activities. 3. Bring a doula or loved one for support. One of the nice things about home birth is you don't have to "bring" anyone because the loved ones are already there! :) 4. Avoid Interventions that are not medically necessary. Ah ha! How many had a Ah Ha moment when they saw how little intervention is needed during labor and birth?! 5. Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your bodies urges to push. Nancy did not worry that she was not 'fully dilated' or 10 centimeters as she grunted little Oziah into the warm water. She did not doubt her body's urging. She did not panic because the catcher (midwife) was not present. She was confident, graceful and fully present; able to protect herself and her baby from 'issues' by allowing nature to take it's course. SWEET! 6. Keep Mother and baby together. It's not normal for mammals to be separated at birth. It is normal for mom's belly to go from full to empty as her arms go from empty to full! There is just a weight exchange. We now know (scientifically) that there are untold amounts of benefits to the Mother, baby, family, community.... when the newborn couple is left to find their way...baby finds moms face, mom finds babys parts, baby finds mom's breast, mom finds herself, etc., etc., etc. Thank you Nancy. Thank you to the Salgueiro family. Sincerely, Rosie Peterson

Childbirth Live: The Streaming of Nancy's Salgueiro's Homebirth

October 18, 2011 07:00 AM by joni nichols
Your response, Rosie, is better than the blog entry that prompted it! I wish I had taken the care to analyze step by step the application of the six practices as you did. Not only do you reflect on the "science"....your writing captures all the joy and wonder of the birth. Well done.

Childbirth Live: The Streaming of Nancy's Salgueiro's Homebirth

October 18, 2011 07:00 AM by Crystal R. Sada
Bravo Joni and Rosie!! Maybe if more women were exposed to this type of birth there would be less fear? Fear is a terrible thing in pregnancy, labor and birth. It causes us to be irrational and make decisions we might not otherwise make if we did not have it surrounding us. I know if I had been subjected to something like this 35 years ago my birth outcome would have been worlds different than it was. Now I strive to help educate women so they can resolve their fears and have more enjoyable and comfortable births and a loving and favorable lasting birth memory.

Childbirth Live: The Streaming of Nancy's Salgueiro's Homebirth

October 18, 2011 07:00 AM by Carolyn Hastie
Beautifully expressed! I'm so grateful that women like Nancy Salgueiro are willing to provide a wholesome and physiologically sound example of birth for other women to contemplate. Women and their partners are subjected to a barrage of negativitiy about the birth of their infant these days and it is a blessing to have the truth available for viewing. Thank you Nancy and family, congratulations to all of you and thank you to Joni for your clarity and good sense around this issue. I'd love to see the birth in an art gallery - birth is surely art of the highest order.

Childbirth Live: The Streaming of Nancy's Salgueiro's Homebirth

October 19, 2011 07:00 AM by Teri Shilling, MS, LCCE, CD, IBCLC
Joni - I love your activity about the uniqueness of everyone's conception, pregnancy, and birth. Thanks for sharing.

Childbirth Live: The Streaming of Nancy's Salgueiro's Homebirth

October 26, 2011 07:00 AM by Kimmelin Hull, PA, LCCE
Update on Marni Kotak--the artist who had planned a birth experience within an art gallery in Brooklyn: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-world/2011/10/26/artist-turns-childbirth-into-an-exhibition-by-delivering-her-baby-boy-in-a-gallery-115875-23516230/

Childbirth Live: The Streaming of Nancy's Salgueiro's Homebirth

October 26, 2011 07:00 AM by joni nichols
@Carolyn Hastie Thank you Carolyn, Rosie, Crystal and Teri for your positive comments! Participating in this live streamed birth was a new experience for me and an unexpected feature was the "conversation" among the viewers. There were so many Teachable Moments for anyone who loves to educate! Viewers were surprised that Nancy was eating and drinking for example and asked how that was possible! Others questioned why she was standing and rocking her hips. The conversation took a fortuitous detour when one viewer remarked that her prior cesarean would be an obstacle for homebirth. Another thought it would be an obstacle for a vaginal birth. They were rewarded with encouragement and information! When two women stated that their husbands "knew" they would need drugs or epidurals in order to birth there were experienced birthers ready to suggest that no one can determine that in advance and that furthermore, a favorable birth environment could improve anyone's pain tolerance! I found the conversations as fascinating as the birth. So much that women don't know is possible, so many needless roadblocks because of lack of information.

Childbirth Live: The Streaming of Nancy's Salgueiro's Homebirth

October 30, 2011 07:00 AM by joni nichols
New York Times "For a Gallery on the Edge, Fame is Born on TuesdaY" http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/nyregion/birth-brings-attention-to-microscope-gallery.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2&%2359;seid=auto&%2359;smid=tw-nytimes&amp

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