Texting and Facebooking your Way Through Birth

At Your Cervix had a post about Personal Electronic Gadgets during Birth.

I have been a doula for over 4 years now and I can say that for the 1st year I never saw this.

Then I had a birth where Dad was busy working on his laptop during a good portion of the birth.  While we were at the hospital.  That was odd to me. I think the mom expected something like that to happen and that is why she hired a doula.

More and more personal technology started creeping into the births I attended.  None seemed as invasive as that Dad doing work, but the use was more noticeable.

Then I had a Hypnobabies student who moved out of state. She blogged about her birth as it was happening, then her DH took over with updates.  It was a long birth and I remember just being so anxious about getting updates.  I was so nervous she was going to end up with a cesarean. I think I even posted a comment with ideas of what to do?  I kept her in my prayers and kept checking in.  Finally the final  post, her baby was born vaginally!  I was so happy that the kept everyone updated about her birthing journey.  I could understand the coolness of it.

I find that about 1/2 of my clients (mom and or dad) use some sort of personal electronic device during birth.  Posting updates on Facebook, sending off texts, calling family with updates.  If you count apps like Contraction Master then I would say more like 4/5 of them.

I am still torn about the whole issue.  I can see why parents want to do this.  I can see why family and friends would enjoy it.  I think if it isn’t distracting mom or dad then it is OK.  But I think it is so important to be IN the moment.  Can you do that as well when you are busy texting or tweeting or facebooking about  it? Or worrying more about how you look then enjoying your new baby?

Birth Workers:  What do you think?

What percentage of parents do you see using personal electronic devices?  Do you think it distracts or enhances their birth?

Parents:  What do you think?

Did you use personal electronic gadgets during your birth or are you planning to?  Do you think it distracted or enhanced your birth?

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37 Comments on “Texting and Facebooking your Way Through Birth

  1. I did not use any gadgets at all during my daughter’s birth, but it was very fast and happened at night. I didn’t want to wake anyone because I thought that I might be in labor for a while (after all it was my first!) and by the time I realized she was really being born we were a little rushed to text/email/call anyone. I called my doula and my parents 2 hours before she was born, and that was it. If I had a long labor during normal waking hours I think I would have texted some friends…but for me it was perfect to be my myself in the dark and the shower. Labor only lasted 5 hours total, and my husband slept through about 3 hours.

    I am starting doula certification, so I look forward to seeing what other parents do. I’m sure that a lot of them will be updating friends regularly!

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    EnjoyBirth
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    It is interesting to watch my couples and see what they do!

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  2. Used contraction master at home before laboring at the hospital. No updates of labor on facebook, but on my private journal yes. At the hospital, no electronics from me until after birth, and it was my husband. This time even we nearly forgot to take photos right after the birth…I finally had to say, “hey, could you get her photo while they are weighing her?” In my previous births, it was only pictures after birth and phone after birth. However, my husband handed me the cell phone with #6 right after birth to talk to someone and I had my baby in my hand…in the first hour. I wanted to throw the phone at him. This seemed wrong to me, and I wanted to enjoy my new baby. I think that’s why he didn’t pull out the camera or phone right after the birth this time…let family know when you are settled if you don’t like them in the room at birth (that’s what I feel anyway). Let mom feed baby first….

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    EnjoyBirth
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    Good tips! I think it is true that the first hour is golden. No phone calls or visitors. Just getting to know the baby.

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  3. I used contraction master, was on baby-gaga.com, and facebook when I went into labor until I went into the hospital… when I went into the hospital I was updating everyone on my labor on facebook from my cell phone up until I was wheeled back for my csection.
    Looking back, I am glad I got to share that experience with all of my loved ones. We also took over 300 hundred pics of my labor and delivery (which they allowed him to get full photography during the csection) and it was all wonderful ways of remembering it all.

    For this birth (my VBAC) I will probably not be doing all of the facebooking.. I’ll have my sister doing it for me. But the photography again is a must! This time I will be more focused on a natural environment.

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    EnjoyBirth
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    Thanks for sharing your experience. I think that for some moms keeping everyone updated is an important part. It will be interesting to see how different your next birth is. It will be nice your sister can do the updating so you can enjoy the birth. :)

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    Brittany Reply:

    I should also add that I kept a printed copy of my status updates and comments after it was all said and done and placed them in my pregnancy album.

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  4. I am appalled the dad was WORKING on his computer during a birth. However, in our situation I LOVED having our birth documented. It was an integral part of our birth. Dan would read the comments to me while I was laboring and they gave me so much courage (including yours!!!). Even more than during the birth, when I read back on what was written now it brings me so much joy! I will cherish that time we were able to share our birth with so many loved ones, and I will tell you what, we sure felt those prayers. For our next birth I’m not sure what we will do. I know I plan on having a photographer there JUST in charge of pictures because we did not take enough. I also plan on having a quick and easy birth so we wont have so much time to update. Plus it will be at home and my mom and sister are already planning on being there so I wont feel such a need to update for family:-).
    Bri recently posted..When I Leave These Two Alone

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    EnjoyBirth
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    It was great getting your updates! :)

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  5. I’m blogging about my experience of preparing my body for pregnancy and will continue to do so when I become pregnant. This is a topic that I’m really torn about too. I don’t think I’ll be on my blog, FB or twitter when I’m in labour as I really want to be in the moment and share the experience AFTER the baby is born.

    I do however want to have a professional photographer at my birth which I’m sure some would find very strange. I want to hire a photographer that is preferably a doula (although I’ll have my hypno-doula with me too) that is very discreet and comfortable with birth. I have spoken to other moms that don’t remember the photographer even being there but after the fact they have a beautiful story to share through pictures. I’m so looking forward to it!
    Crystal – Prenatal Coach recently posted..Fertility Food Friday- Digestion Enhancing Bone Broth

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    EnjoyBirth
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    I wish I had more pictures from my birth. I had a photographer coming, but she got there after the baby was born. He just came too fast. :)

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  6. I had a baby about 9 weeks ago at home. It was a very fast birth, just under three hours. I did HypnoBabies for this birth. My outer bag of waters broke at 5:30 am (I had had three days of prodromal labor and was already at 5 cm, so I knew it was going to probably go fast). At 7:04, I got on Facebook and wrote “Whoa mama!” Haha!! I had my sweet girl at 8:19. Looking back, I was most likely in transition when I wrote that, and I had all of the classic signs of transition when I wrote it, I just was in denial or something! :) I really thought I had much more time….just a bit after that my true water broke and pushing contractions started almost right after. I was very much listening to my intuition, and I think it’s really funny I wrote that at such an intense time in my labor (but it didn’t feel like that AT ALL. I thought I still had many hours…the midwife didn’t even make it, and my doulas got there EIGHT minutes before she was born!) :) I don’t think it distracted me, but I wouldn’t have done it had I known she was going to be born so soon after.

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    EnjoyBirth
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    That is funny! I can see how in retrospect you realize it was transition. :)

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  7. I updated my bulletin board friends while using contraction master in early birthing time. I found it a good way to pass some of that time. Once things got intense, I needed to just focus. My husband did a little updating of family (we don’t live near any family), but not so much that I felt he was neglecting me. There was more of it after he was born, but he was taken to the warmer, so the pics he took are good for me to be able to enjoy those early moments of our son’s life since I mostly missed them. If I had been able to hold him for the first hour like I wanted, I can see how those things may have been more distracting.

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  8. see it a lot and find that it is one more way for parents to be seperated from the labor, birth, baby. it is so hard to be in the moment and instead of drinking in those first moments, they are calling, taking photos, emailing etc.

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  9. I had a due date buddy on a website that I texted when labor started, when we ended up transferring to a hospital, and when the baby was here (several hours later.) I didn’t really even thing about jumping online, because my labor was very fast and very intense (contractions 1 minute long and 1 minute apart apart from start to finish.)

    I see many women who post through the labors on my local ICAN yahoogroup. They usually are doing this for encouragement and ideas. Getting a VBAC in a Houston hospital is truly a miracle and they need all the support they can get, especially when they are “taking too long” and the hospital turns hostile and dad starts to lose his nerve. I could see myself emailing the group too, if I had a longer, more normal labor next time.

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    EnjoyBirth
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    I agree that it can be a nice support group for moms who need the extra support!

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  10. No, I didn’t, but I might. I only started texting a few months ago and my youngest is going to be two next month.

    My husband took pictures for me, so I got to see my first born by cesarean (so incredibly important later, those pictures… they even helped another friend who missed her son’s birth) and I got to see what happened past my pregnant belly with my VBAC. And big sister, who fell asleep a few hours before baby sister was born, got to watch the birth later (which she was irritated about missing–she tried to wait it out, but I have loooooong labors).

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  11. My first my husband called his mom because he didn’t think I was really in labor, he wanted someone else to confirm it.. hahaha.. His mom told him to stop being a pain and get me to the hospital.. Second was so quick (less than 1 1/2 hours from first contraction to baby being born, 5 minutes from water breaking to birth with no pushing) that I didn’t even have a camera on me.. This time Id like pictures but Im banning cell phones from the delivery room. DH’s co-workers have no class when it comes to calling people (calls at dinner time, calls at 1am etc) and if my husband was on the cell phone while I was laboring I would be very upset with him. I will probably post a Facebook comment when I head to the hospital since we live in a different country than our family and might not be able to notify them otherwise. Ill also post on the message board I go to for pregnancy support since it will only take a second.. DH will post an update when he comes home to pick up our girls from the babysitter after the birth. Of course this is all assuming that this one isn’t as impatient as his sister was!!

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  12. I don’t even have a cell phone so I wasn’t texting updates during my last birth (a home birth). But it was a LONG labor (over 33 hours from water breaking to birth) so I would hop on the computer every few hours to update. And then about 15-20 min after the birth we have a pic of me on the computer posting an update. In all honesty, I was too tired and weak to hold my precious baby… I had been up for 2 nights in a row and pushing was really really hard work (she was asyclintic and nuchal hand)…I couldn’t help with the measuring and bathing like I would have liked to…So I sat next to my baby and updated eveyrone and then took her to bed and went to sleep. I don’t think I’ll be doing fb updates with the next birth… I really felt a lot of pressure after my water was broken and it probably was a small part of the stress I felt to preform (besides the fears I had as this was my VBAC and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it).

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  13. I have very mixed thoughts on this topic as well. As the person outside the room I would LOVE knowing what is going on. As the support person inside the room I find the technology a distraction. A way to disconnect from the reality of labor. I am a pretty firm believer in “Be here now” and supporting the progression of labor through really “being in labor” for lack of better words- maybe this is an emotion I am not putting to words well. In general with birth already being taken over by technology this is just adding another distraction.
    The photo you chose makes me feel a very strong aversion to the topic in general~ Very strong.
    In the end though it is not how I choose to birth or what I think is right – It is what is right for the parent.

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    EnjoyBirth
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    I agree it can be just another added distraction from the birth. It all depends on how it is used. But we do need to respect the parents and what is right for them.

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  14. I can get bringing a video game for the hours of labor were your awake and bored but as soon as active labor sets in all electronics should be put away and yes have a cell phone on hand for the father to call relatives afterward to tell them how things went but you shouldn’t be on it during the process and certainly not until both mom and baby are asleep. This is the beginning of a whole new life the beginning of a whole new family people should experience it.

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  15. We had a gentle home birth (our first child), and it was quick…12 hrs total, but I slept through the first 6 hours. DH used his laptop to track contractions (this was the wee hours of the morning), but that’s the only technology that was present at our birth until DD started crowning and an assistant took some pictures with my camera. I was actually quite jealous of the laptop several times – it’s funny to think back on…DH was helping me relax through the contractions, and I NEEDED his help – but he would have to hit a key to make it start tracking each contraction, and that was torture waiting a few extra seconds for his help. We waited several hours after to birth to call family and post pics on FB, which I would recommend to those wanting to enjoy those fleeting first moments – you never get them back, and they’re so precious. We chose to be alone for the whole labor until our midwife arrived 30 mins before DD was born, so perhaps our “birth personality” had something to do with our technology choices…
    The picture at the top of this blog makes me sad…seeing momma focused on networking instead of her brand new baby…

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  16. I used contraction master and tweeted on and off from about 5 am when my water broke until active labour set in and my midwife arrived at about 1pm. After that I was completely in Me Mode focusing on breathing etc. My husband had the laptop nearby and periodically updated my facebook. I was really glad for that because it gives me time perspective for a day where time didn’t exist for me.

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  17. I recently doula’d for a couple who were glued to their phones through the entire birth. I felt like my biggest contribution was handing mom her cell phone between contractions so she could continue texting her friends.

    This same couple barely lifted their eyes to meet mine when I popped in for a post-natal visit because they were both so engaged in texting and facebooking on their phones while other people took turns holding and bottle-feeding the baby.

    I also just went for a prenatal with a couple where the dad spent 3/4 of the meeting playing with his blackberry.

    It’s like… I feel it’s not my place to tell the parents to put the phones down and stop texting/facebooking their labour. But it really makes for a weird atmosphere. There is just something so impersonal about it, it feels like the constant facebook updates and texting destroys the sacred space and privacy mom should have around her. I feel it takes so much away, and distracts the partner from taking care of mom.

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    EnjoyBirth
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    Wow, that is very telling. It sounds like an addiction in this case.

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  18. Hi Sheridan,

    When I doula I do NOT text, Facebook, or otherwise. I find it very unprofessional and I am irked when I see FB posts by doula friends while they are in labor with someone!

    ha ha, so you can tell I have abias against electronics. My doula friend Chelsea and I published an article about clients texting and Twittering during birth. Check it out. It was published through DONA International magazine and it is called “To Tweet or Not To Tweet?”
    We gave both sides of the argument, trying to cover the pros and cons.

    I have posted the link to the article on my website here:
    http://www.noplacelikeohm.com/press.html

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    EnjoyBirth
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    I saw your article in the DONA magazine! :)

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  19. Personally, I agree with you about the importance of being IN the moment. I can see sending out an email or FB update when labor begins–during the “excitement” stage, when you don’t need to be as IN and the distraction is actually a helpful technique. But, for me, gadgets have no place in my birthspace. I can’t imagine it.
    Molly recently posted..Pregnancy Pictures

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  20. For myself, I’m very private about my birthing time. I only tell a few select people what my actual due date is. I do not have a desire to tell everyone out there that my cervix is dilating, heck, I don’t even know because I prefer not to be checked.

    I relate birth to the intimate moments where you are conceiving your baby. Would you tweet or put on FB that you are having sex with you husband while it is happening? No, then I wouldn’t do it while giving birth.

    I have found that I easily become addicted to social media and have to limit my time, especially with young children. We need to enjoy those moments, and I don’t want to remember my birthing time with a phone in my hand or a computer at my side.

    I did blog about my youngest’s birth within a couple of hours after he arrived, but he was asleep, I was by myself as everyone else was upstairs eating or resting and I took that time to record the amazing events of my son’s birth.

    Each person has to find what is right for them to do. For me, no electronic devices around me except for my iPod to listen to Hypnobabies.

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    EnjoyBirth
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    I agree with the intimacy analogy. It is a private, intimate time. It can be distracting to take time out to share what is happening with the world!

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  21. I hadn’t seen this as a problem until I got a really young couple as clients and they both were glued to their phones during labor. It was really bizzare. The mother wasn’t coping well and it seemed like the only thing she cared about was what was coming across on her phone. It was like she was trying to “leave” her body through her phone rather than allowing herself to step into laborland. I think that technology really does take away from the sacred spirit of a labor room. I’m thinking that in the future I will talk to my clients about leaving their phones and technology somewhere else during birth so they can be fully present.

    I LOVED Leigh Ann’s comment about intimacy. I think that if you invite other people in to the room– even electronically– it changes the dynamics of things and it isn’t always for the best.

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    EnjoyBirth
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    I am thinking of talking about it prenatally with parents to, so they can be conscious of choosing what to do, rather than using technology out of habit.

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  22. Oh yes, this time around I was on FB, twitter, and my blog while at home, sent out a msg that we were en route to the hospital, and then posted on the blog 2 hours after giving birth. All were short and to the point, but I know my family and friends were very appreciative.
    In contrast, during my first birth I wanted to involve family & friends and had 5 people plus my husband with me as I labored. In retrospect it was too much and made me feel like I had to perform. Having them out of the room but within reach (of social media) was much much better.

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  23. what the heck do people want “contraction master” for??? I am a L&D RN and really, it’s the strength that is important here. Yes, there is some significance to timing but not when you are at home coping with them. If they are unbearable and you need something for pain – then go in. If it is a protracted contraction that lasts a couple minutes: go in. If you can still sleep between contractions and you are comfortable enough to drink, eat, walk around, get in the tub…..stay at home. Of course if you have had a previous baby and history of fast labors then maybe it might be a little more useful. But really – you don’t need to keep track of EVERY contraction. Really.

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    EnjoyBirth
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    Thanks for this important reminder! :)

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