Thousands Watch Woman Give Birth Live on Internet

More than 3,000 watch Minn. woman give birth live on the Internet.

November 9, 2009, 10:26 AM

Nov. 9, 2009— -- When a 23-year-old Minnesota teacher gave birth this weekend, it wasn't just her husband, mother and midwife who supported her every step of the way.

Thousands of people from across the country and around the world signed in to watch a live Internet broadcast of her more than seven-hour delivery.

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 was admitted to the hospital about 5 p.m. Friday evening, the social network sent an e-mail broadcast to about 8,000 members, in addition to messages sent via Twitter and Facebook.

According to Cindy Chapman, the site manager for the MomsLikeMe site for the Twin Cities area, the response was overwhelmingly positive.

At its peak, the livestream was accessed by about 3,600 viewers, she said. Initially, Lynsee chatted with viewers registered on the site. As the labor became more intense, she blocked them out.

"She thought it was fabulous," Chapman said.

At 12:46 a.m. Saturday, Lynsee's baby daughter Solveig was born, weighing 6 pounds, 8 ounces.

"When the delivery was happening, people were on the site, chatting and saying they were having chills and crying," said Chapman. "Even doctors were on the livestream, watching and crying."

Lynsee and her daughter will be dismissed from the hospital today, but the video of the birth remains on the MomsLikeMe site.

Last week, Lynsee told that she hoped the experience would educate others.

"We wanted to share this experience," she said about the decision about her decision to broadcast the birth, which 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."

Lynsee joined the MomsLikeMe site for the Twin Cities area on the day she found out she was pregnant. She and Anders had just moved to Minneapolis-St. Paul, and 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.

When she gave birth, a cameraman was in the hospital room with Lynsee, her husband, her mother and her midwife. A second camera was mounted in the corner. There were not any graphic shots taken from over the midwife's shoulder.

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 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 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 "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."

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