Nov. 5, 2009— -- For many people, it's one of life's most intimate moments. But for a 23-year-old Minnesota teacher, the birth of her first child will be an event open to anyone in the world.
For the past few months, Lynsee (who asked to keep her last name private) has been sharing daily details about her pregnancy on the social network MomsLikeMe. When she gives birth in the next few days, more than a thousand women who follow her online -- plus anyone else with an Internet connection -- will be able to watch a live broadcast of her child's birth from their computers.
"We wanted to share this experience," Lynsee said about the decision she made with her husband Anders. "If I were in a classroom, I'd be teaching about development. It was a way for me to teach… A way for me to use myself as a textbook."
The day Lynsee found out she was pregnant, she joined the MomsLikeMe site for the Twin Cities area. She and her husband had just moved to Minneapolis-St. Paul and, not knowing many people, she found the Web site to be a good way to meet other women and learn about local resources.
Soon after joining, she answered a message from the site's manager asking pregnant women in the area to contact her. And before she knew it, Lynsee wasn't just a member of the online mothers' network, she was a contributor.
After talking it over with her husband, the young woman agreed to share every last detail of her pregnancy through a daily blog, and then finish off the project with a live Internet broadcast of the delivery.
How did her husband feel? "He was a little hesitant at first, as was I," Lynsee said. But after MomsLikeMe assured them that the video would be shot tastefully, the parents-to-be embraced the idea.
"I shared pretty much anything -- it's pretty much a tell-all blog," Lynsee said about her online postings.
When she gives birth, a cameraman will be in the hospital room with Lynsee, her husband, her mother and her midwife. A second camera will be mounted in the corner. Lynsee said there will not be any graphic shots taken from over the midwife's shoulder.
In addition to the live broadcast, anyone registered with her group on MomsLikeMe will be able to chat with Lynsee while she's in the delivery room.
Mommy Blogger: 'New Era of Sharing Personal Events'
"I hope to give women a sense of empowerment and joy because it's a very miraculous everyday event," she said. "We're just sharing the story from the empowerment and emotional aspects."
Since making the decision to broadcast the birth, Lynsee said she has not had any second thoughts, and said her family has been 100 percent supportive.
But some mommy bloggers said they were surprised to see someone use new technology to reveal so much.
"I saw this as kind of like a door into a new era of sharing personal events," said Kim, 25, a stay-at-home mother from the Chicago area who blogs for Families.com and asked to withhold her last name.
When her son was born seven months ago, Kim and her husband announced his birth on Facebook. But she said that differed from live streaming video of the actual event, or using Twitter, in that only friends and family can see what they post.
"Birth has always been such private thing," she said. "We've seen it move from the home into the hospital. Now to see it move on to the Internet is pretty incredible."
Last September, several blogs reported a Pennsylvania man wanted to share the birth of his child through the video site UStream.
And this summer, the wife of Twitter CEO Evan Williams tweeted to the world that their child was on the way.
"Dear Twitter," she wrote. "My water broke. It wasn't like Charlotte in 'Sex and the City.' Now timing contractions on an iPhone app."
Julie Taylor, senior editorial producer for Los Angeles-based MomLogic.com and mother of two, said that when she first heard about Lynsee's project she thought "Wow! I would never do that." But she acknowledged that younger mothers have grown up in a very different technological landscape.
"They've lived more of their lives online," she said. "For them, they've video-taped most of their lives anyway and they've grown up on reality TV. So maybe it's an old-fashioned notion to think twice."
First-Person Stories Can Provide Good Lessons
Ultimately, Taylor and others agree that childbirth is a supremely personal experience and each woman has the right to fashion the experience to her liking.
"It's a personal choice," said Gwynn Cassidy, online director for the Internet resource HealthyWomen.org. "We all have our personal lines in terms of what we will cross or won't cross."
She added that while not many women may choose to broadcast their child's birth live, many more are turning to new media to share milestones and first-person stories.
"It's absolutely a trend," she said.
"If we don't share this information with each other who's going to?" Cassidy said. "It's a great lesson for women who do want to have children and for younger women to see how childbirth really can be."