New Beginnings – The Positive Birth Company
An Interview with Siobhan Miller, Founder of the Positive Birth Company
Siobhan Miller has a contagious energy. As we chatted, I had the feeling that I was in the presence of someone who has and will continue to make a difference in the world. And if you thought that her ambition would be coupled with a certain arrogance, you would be wrong. Instead, I found an engaging and humble person who is simply passionate about what she does. She has found her niche and is exceptional at it. Siobhan, who hails from the Torquay area, recently made an appearance on the BBC show Dragons’ Den. The founder and CEO of The Positive Birth Company wowed with her presentation receiving investment from not one, but two Dragons – Touker Suleyman and Tej Lalvani. She is looking forward to being mentored by the two experts as well as the opportunities that this new investment will bring.
Where did it all begin, I asked Siobhan, whose global business includes products such as the Digital Hypnobirthing Pack, a Post-Partum pack and The Freya App.
Siobhan replied, ‘I had my first son when I was 20, so very young. I was at university and I didn’t have the money to afford private antenatal classes. I did the basics that the hospital offered but I really didn’t know a lot. I went into birth very naïve; I was induced as I was past my due date but had no idea of the risks or that it was something I could choose or decline. I just went along with it thinking it was a quicker way to have the baby’.
The experience was traumatic for Siobhan. She endured long labour, the induction lasted two days, during which she neither ate nor slept. Eventually, she was taken to theatre for a Caesarean but ended up giving birth with the assistance of forceps.
She said, ‘I was exhausted, depleted and panicked, which led to me experiencing postnatal anxiety for a year’.
A Positive Birth
At the time, Siobhan thought that what she had experienced was normal and just something that had to be endured during childbirth.
Seven years later she fell pregnant with her second child. This time, she decided to do research on the birthing process and was also able to attend antenatal classes. She discovered hypnobirthing, which wasn’t mainstream at the time.
She said, ‘I hadn’t heard anything negative about it, so I decided to give it a go and signed up for a hypnobirthing course and honestly, it was the catalyst for changing my life!’.
Siobhan learnt so much about her body and her choices on the course, it brought her confidence for the upcoming birth. It also gave her insight into what had happened during the birth of her first child, which provided her with closure.
She said, ‘I was finally able to put that to rest. Hypnobirthing was like a science lesson and mindfulness practice; it was just so good!’.
The birth of her second child took place at home and was a day that she describes as one of the best days of her life. She said, ‘I gave birth on the sofa at home, it was Christmas time, we had Christmas lights up and even though on paper the birth wasn’t a ‘perfect birth’ and due to some complications, I needed to go into hospital, I felt on an absolute high. I felt invincible, that I could do anything and that high stayed with me through the postnatal period. I had a happy six weeks of being in a love bubble’.
It was testament to the fact that it’s not what happens during the birth that makes for a positive experience (or not) but how the person is feeling.
Around the same time, Siobhan left her marketing career to complete a Psychology Masters at Westminster University in London. Wanting to build a career that focussed on helping others, she took the next step.
She said, ‘I’d been wanting to do something meaningful; I’d had this incredibly transformative life experience and I thought, this is what I want to do, everybody should have this opportunity. So, I trained to become a hypnobirthing teacher’.
Founding of the Positive Birth Company
At the beginning of 2016, The Positive Birth Company was founded, its mission, to make hypnobirthing more accessible. The three videos that she created to start with have since been watched by hundreds of thousands of people. She also went about teaching, setting up group classes and in 2018 she launched the online Hypnobirthing digital pack. She said, ‘That’s when things really took off’.
Siobhan designed and created the pack herself and was able to price it affordably.
She said, ‘It was literally just me; it was a mad year. I didn’t have any savings or investment, so if I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t outsource it, so I had to do it myself’. Within just twelve months, fifteen thousand people had signed up.
The Freya App
Delighted with the success of the digital pack, and always looking for ways to improve the birthing experience, Siobhan invested in having an app built. This app would measure the timing of contractions and would gently fit with the rhythms of hypnobirthing. Enter The Freya App which Siobhan says is like a virtual birthing partner and with Freya being the Nordic goddess of fertility, is perfectly named.
I asked Siobhan if she could recall any funny anecdotes related to her career. Besides mistakenly calling Tej and Touker, Taj and Tookey, (on Dragons’ Den) it was during a live video Q & A stream to launch the Freya app. She’d put the kids to bed and on any other night, that’s where they would have stayed. As so often happens in life, things don’t go according to plan. She had begun her live stream when both kids got up and started hovering in the background. Their dad was out so she realised that she’d have to wing it.
She said, ‘I was trying to be super professional and then they came into shot and one of them said he needed a poo!’ She continued, ’I was live with all these people watching, so I had to say, “Just one second” and then took him to the toilet. Came back and said, “Very sorry about that!” started to carry on and a minute later he started shouting “Mum I’m finished” so I had to go and wipe his bum! I had just settled down again after apologising and I swear not even a minute later my other child said, “Oh, I need a Poo now!”’
Fortunately, the people watching were completely understanding, remarking that it was ‘real mum working life’. The Freya App has gone on to be a resounding success, listed as the top paid app in 2019 and 2020. Besides, as Siobhan says with a twinkle in her eye, it was hilarious and one day she’ll be able to show her boys the video.
There have been many high points in Siobhan’s remarkable journey. In 2019, she published a Hypnobirthing book, relishing the moment that she spotted it at Waterstones for the first time.
Life isn’t all plain sailing, however, and Siobhan pointed out some of the challenges they face, such as navigating the ‘cancel culture’ that is sometimes prevalent on social media. On a couple of occasions, they have received backlash for a well-intentioned post. Working out how to manage this sensitively is ongoing, however, as a team that values equality and inclusivity, they will stand firm in their quest to support all people, regardless of race or gender.
‘Our community is everything to us; that’s why we are here and how we’ve grown’.
Life doesn’t always follow the path that we intended and we sometimes find ourselves off track but we should never give up on our dreams. Siobhan turned a difficult situation into an opportunity to bring new life onto earth in a more peaceful way. There isn’t much that’s more beautiful than that. New beginnings.
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Written By Stella Nicholls
Photos Provided by Siobhan Miller