Texting in the Delivery Room: Does Birth Really Need to Be Social?

Jeanne Sager
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maternity wardGiving birth is -- without question -- one of life's big adventures. Its outcome is something you want to share with the world. But does the birth experience really have to be social too?

Because if tweeting your birth wasn't enough evidence of America's obsession with social media, now women are texting while giving birth. Literally, lying in an operating room, belly spliced wide open, cell phone in hand.

The way New York Magazine's Tina Cassidy tells it, this isn't a sign of America the self-involved, land of over-sharers. This is a sign of women wanting to bring birth back to the social experience it was in the days when "births mostly happened at home, with expectant mothers surrounded by their sisters-in-god, or ''godsibbs' -- the relatives and neighbors who talked their way through birth and gave us the word gossip."

She builds a compelling case, but it's a tad bit too romantic for my tastes. Birth has become a circus, from the tweeting and texting to the dozens of relatives trying to crowd into the room like Mom is the bearded lady and they need to get a look-see. Getting back to the simple time in a small bedroom with the women of the village is impossible in the day of birth plans women expect to follow to the letter, of women using their entourages not for guidance, but as an army to strong-arm the doctors and nurses into doing her bidding.

The best way to return to simpler times isn't to add people. It's to simplify. My birth was by no means a perfect experience, but there's at least one decision I am glad I made. My husband and I kept the birth to ourselves. It was us, the nurses, and my OB/GYN ... and then, of course, our daughter. My father came to the hospital a few hours after the birth, but at the moment she came into the world, we could both focus on her.

There was no need for my husband to rush out of the delivery room to update a room full of people, no one fighting to hold our baby before us, no one weighing in on how they thought I should be laboring. This was the moment we forged our new family. It was only fitting that the people there were the members of that new family, and only those members.

There is scientific evidence to support this approach -- proponents of the baby-friendly hospital initiative will tell you visitors should be kept away in the few hours immediately following birth to allow a mom to get skin-to-skin with baby rather than the child being passed around. It's also a chance for a new mom to attempt breastfeeding without the stress of being watched or coached.

I won't discredit the usefulness of a doula or a grandma in the room. Different strokes and all that. One extra person does not a circus make. But birth is really about three people. Mom, Dad, and baby. All the rest of those folks can wait a few hours, can't they?

Do you think birth should be a social experience?

 

Image via norfolkdistrict/Flickr

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