When Kourtney Kardashian gave birth to daughter Penelope with the world watching, back in 2013, it was a shocking pop-culture moment, inspiring some to wonder whether reality-TV had finally gone too far.
Since then, however, the practice of women giving birth online for all to see has been happening in near-regular fashion, with women broadcasting their birthing experiences from hospitals, homes, and, in one standout case, the bank of a stream in rural Australia.
Over the weekend, Lindsey Drury, 31, hopped on the trend and one-upped it, in real time, by live streaming the birth of her third child — a son named Staxon — on YouTube, from her bedroom in Chattanooga, Tenn.
“Biggest baby yet at 6lbs 3oz and 19.5in long,” Drury noted on Facebook, where she had announced the live-stream YouTube event to followers and also directly live streamed a portion of her labor. “Thanks so much for all the love and support! It’s so wonderful reading all the comments! May never be able to like or reply to all but please know it really warms my heart and they are all very much appreciated!”
While the mom was pretty certain she would go into labor on her due date, Sunday Mar. 26, she wound up giving birth to Staxon the day before, on Saturday Mar. 25.
“Most babies don’t come on their estimated due date. However, my previous two have come that day or the day after, so we should be pretty close this time as well,” the mom predicted on her YouTube event page, referring to her daughters, aged 2 and 4, and inviting the general public to “witness the miracle of birth.”
Drury, a birth photographer, says she decided — with her husband’s very supportive blessing — to live stream the birth of her third child, a son, as part of her efforts as a natural-birth advocate.
“Just to be able to let women know they have other options besides being on their back, constantly monitored, and hooked up to an IV — none of which are evidence-based practices,” Drury, who is the local chapter leader for Improving Birth, tells Yahoo Beauty. “A lot of critics see the live stream as home birth vs. hospital birth. But this is just showing options. It’s about choosing whatever is comfortable for your family, and just to open people’s minds up.”
Still, her plan to share Saxton’s birth in such a public manner — as well as her opting for a home birth at all — rubbed many people the wrong way. On the Facebook group Beauties in Boots, for women military vets, for example, members criticized Saxton for going public with a “private moment.” Some asked her “to reconsider,” Drury, who formerly worked for the Army in human resources, told Yahoo Beauty. “But it won’t be as graphic as people anticipate,” she said.
Similarly, when News 12 Now posted a question asking what local viewers thought of Drury’s live-stream birth plan, many did not approve. “I think it’s someone wanting attention! This is a VERY private and special moment. Just think of the perverts who would enjoy watching that!!!!!” one man noted. Another chimed in, “No, what a sick way to get her 15 minutes of fame. Not ever one wants to look up a womans a** while she has a baby. Women have little respect now days.” One more said, simply, “NO THANKS.”
Still, plenty of other commenters found her plan to be “beautiful,” “a blessing,” “incredible,” and “brave.” One woman noted, “Hollywood has given us a poor and unnatural idea of birth, so I think it’s incredibly brave that this woman is willing to give the world a glimpse at normal and natural birth.”
On Friday, Drury told Yahoo Beauty she had always had a homespun idea of birth. “I was adopted as an infant from Colombia, and a lot of how I viewed birth came from that,” she said. “Whenever I envisioned it, it wasn’t in a hospital.” For the birth of her first child, she started out by thinking she’d go to a local birth center, but she didn’t connect with the midwives there, and wound up changing providers after 32 weeks, to work with a midwife who would attend her home birth.
“It was amazing,” she said of that first experience with home birth, as well as her second, noting that both were “so empowering” and “really quick.” Both of her daughters were present for Saxton’s birth — they prepared by watching numerous videos of both animal and human births — as was a small crowd that included Drury’s husband, her stepmom, her midwife, a doula-in-training, her official birth photographer, and a photographer from the local newspaper.
Saturday’s live-stream lasted five hours, with Saxton being born — in an inflatable birthing tub, which also contained his dad and wide-eyed sisters — right around the middle. The birth was alternately peaceful and intense (and had no graphic closeups), providing just the right counterpoint to the screaming TV and movie births that Drury say portray birth as “the worst thing in a woman’s life.”
Basically, the mom of three wants the world to know, “Birth is normal. It’s not something that has to be feared. It doesn’t have to be excruciating and scary.”
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