Single mum-of-two Tahlia Duignan is planning to livestream her unassisted homebirth, in a bid to educate other mums about freebirthing.
The 24-year-old is has created a private Facebook group to livestream her freebirth from her home in Queensland, and says she has no concerns about her decision.
Tahlia, a member of the Mum’s Grapevine Pregnancy Facebook Groups, says her first birth was a long and difficult hospital birth.
“My firstborn, Corbyn in 2012, was a hospital birth which I went in knowing nothing but following demands and constantly monitored was left with no one supporting (my mum had to stay at a relatives as this was during the night). I tried birthing standing and squatting where my son’s head got stuck on the pelvic bone as he was sunny side up (back to back).
“I got on my back on the bed and he was out with two maybe three coached pushes. The hospital failed to mention that I had two tears one internally and one externally which gave me grief. The hospital was understaffed and keep increasing my stay due to no doctor being able to discharge my son. I ended up discharging myself and bub but with agreeing that when I returned home I had to book the next available doctors appointment to have him all checked over. Overall from very first contraction and cervix dilation to bub being born it was a roughly 24-hour birth.”
Her second birth in 2017 was no less dramatic, with son Luca unexpectedly born at home.
“I started getting contractions at 4 or 5pm not realising they were contractions. After a few hours of contractions and starting to lose my mucus plug I texted my mum and she drove two hours in the middle of the night. I didn’t get comfortable or much sleep that night, the next day we went shopping in the morning for finer thing like groceries just to make sure I had food at home. During this time I started having my bloody show however contractions never got stronger or regular.
“I went home and cleaned a little bit, put some clothes out to dry etc. Had lunch then went and later down for a rest. When we got up my mum decided just to go to one of those massage places in town for a neck and shoulder massage. She was gone maybe 15 mins. I then went to the toilet for a pee, after that the next two contractions were stronger so I texted my mum to just see were about she was so we can head to hospital just to get a check.
“Mum was on her way back to the house at this stage. I texted her telling her to hurry as we needed to go. Not realising how far progressed I was. I lay on my back on the floor as I was trying to stretch my hips. As my mum walked into the house she had noticed my legs shaking and my next contraction was intense. Mum called the ambulance as I refused to move.”
Living just five minutes from the nearest hospital meant an ambulance arrived just in time to see Tahlia giving birth, en caul, to her second son.
Now preparing for her third birth, Tahlia says she’s determined to do it on her terms.
“I originally wanted to live stream my second born on a Facebook page called BirthTube however when things happened so quickly I never got the chance to. So I decided to go live with this one on BirthTube however they don’t stream freebirths and that was my choice. So at first I was going to go live in a small local due date group however not all wanted to be involved so to respect their wishes I made a private group to which people can request to join. This way if you have joined it was your choice.
“Not a lot of people know this is what I am doing. So it’s been great. I only told my mum not long ago. She had a lot of questions but with me letting her know exactly what my plans are to each question she has become rather supportive and has also stated, ‘well Luca was born at home so you will be right’. ”
What is freebirth?
According to Freebirth Australia, freebirth is a homebirth without a medical professional trained in the birth process in attendance, including midwives. Freebirth Australia says, “A freebirth is an opportunity for an unhindered birth, where the process of giving birth is respected for what it is – a biological function of the female body. Like animal birth, human birth requires a quiet, safe place to birth undisturbed.”
While studies have found that homebirths are as safe as hospital births in low-risk pregnancies, former Australian Medical Association President Michael Gannon, previously called freebirthing ‘madness’. He told the ABC in 2018 that, “Things go wrong fortunately in childbirth reasonably rarely, but when they do go wrong it can be catastrophic. Freebirthing is madness. It is literally taking the future potential of your child, their life and your life in your hands. Deciding that you are dissatisfied with your care and taking yourself back to the 1950s or to pre-history is not a good idea for you or your baby.”
Freebirth livestream aims to educate
Tahlia, who is 39-weeks-pregnant, says a lack of education has led to negative comments about her decision.
“Strangers, however, are the ones I have had almost the most negative comments from which is sad but at the same time, I think it’s mostly because a lot of people are very uneducated about pregnancy and birth. They rely too much on the medical side of things and rely too much on medical personnel that half the time are assuming they know. And hospitals use so much higher authority over people. This is just my personal opinion. When I expressed this was my intention 97 per cent of people did not even know what freebirth was.”
She says she has no concerns about livestreaming her freebirth, and intends to stop streaming if there are any problems, so as not to ‘scare first-time mums’.
“There are so many negative responses to freebirthing but I just don’t think people are educated. A birth should be a natural occurrence with a rare reason for medical intervention, not a medical occurrence that happens naturally rarely. So when others have negative things to say I hold my tongue and go about my business and hold my head high as I know this is the best option for me and my child. And I keep marching on and preparing, mentally, physically and spiritually for my birth.”
Tahlia is hoping her livestream freebirth will be an educational tool for other expecting women, as they prepare for their own births.
“Me livestreaming is also so that others can be educated. Know they have options. That they always can ask for a second opinion. I could go on for days about education and knowledge. As much as medical assistance has improved but so has the laziness of staff. Even staff rely too much on assistance. The hospital maternity ward is one of the biggest money-making wards in a hospital. And every intervention they get to use is again more money.
“So I’m hoping to at least educate and show a few ladies that you have options and choices and that you should be listened too. That you know your body best. That you know your bub best. And that the female body is an amazing thing and can and will do amazing things. I really encourage people to educate themself on all possibilities. You can birth a breech baby. You can go natural if you have GD. You can refuse induction. You can refuse growth scans. Birth is meant to be natural.”
Anyone wanting to watch Tahlia’s freebirth livestream is able to request membership of her group: Tahlia’s Freebirth.
(Images courtesy Roar Earth Imagery)
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