Opinion Brief

Should mothers tweet while giving birth?

Reportedly, more women are logging on to social networks during labor. Is this an effective way to combat "impersonal" childbirth, or a sad sign of the times?

For today's mothers, instant digital documentation of childbirth "feels like both a rite and a right," says Tina Cassidy in New York. New moms now routinely broadcast intimate details of the experience, from "up-to-the-minute tweets tracking cervical dilation" to Facebook videos of their new bundle of joy. As "contemporary childbirth becomes increasingly impersonal," says Cassidy, parents are trying to make birth more communal. But not everyone applauds their efforts. Several hospitals have recently banned photography until several minutes after a baby is born. And some say social networking during childbirth is inappropriate. Do iPhones and labor go together?

Absolutely. Share this special moment: Most people have a "knee-jerk reaction" to social media during childbirth, says Cassidy, as quoted by Rachel Zimmerman at Common Health. Relatives, friends, and others "on the receiving end of the texts and emailed pictures... want to know the details of your birth," and don't care about the "ick factor." Proud marathon runners post photos on Facebook. Why should childbirth be any different?
"Texting while birthing: Three arguments for social media in the delivery room"

No, it's gross: I'm "viscerally opposed" to parents sharing childbirth with the entire Internet, says Meghan Casserly at Forbes. The problem is that "it's not the parent's memories that are being documented with photos of a newborn covered in mucus and membrane" — it's the baby. And one day, that much-photographed infant will be a "fully grown, very opinionated, and maybe-not-so-pleased with his parent's decision-making-process person."
"Texting below the belt: Why socia networking and birthing shouldn't mix"

It's a natural reaction to hospital culture: As the New York piece points out, says Ceridwen Morris at Babble, mothers compromise on the issue in part because modern hospitals are so impersonal that parents are forced to find "other ways to make hospital birth a more intimate experience." Perhaps if our culture made birthing a less alienating experience, "we wouldn't have to rely on our smart phones for a (limited) sense of connection."
"Social networking your birth: Texting, tweeting, and Facebooking from the delivery room"

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