“For today’s families,” she writes, “instant documentation and communication about labor and birth has become culturally embedded, to the point where it feels like both a rite and a right.”
She makes the point that women who feel safe in labor and who feel “protected by those they know” tend to have more efficient births. This is a point I’m constantly harping on. Oxytocin– the hormone that makes us have contractions– flows faster when mom is filled with a sense of security and trust.
Cassidy makes a fascinating connection between oxytocin and social networking: Maybe our desire to tweet and snap our births is a way to reach out to our loved ones during a birth process that has become increasingly depersonalized?
“If anything, the compulsion to stay connected during labor seems to be heightening as contemporary childbirth becomes increasingly impersonal. You’re handed a nightgown, assigned a wristband number and a bed (often in a room shared with a stranger). Family can visit, but only during designated hours. Parents are merely pushing against that, making birth, once again, part of the social network.”
Of course the irony is that texting and flip camera-recording your own birth at once brings you closer to your loved ones and mediates the experience. It’s kind of like Facebook: On it, we are at once much more connected to various communities of people we love and care about, and yet there’s a distinct lack of intimacy. There’s always a wall. Perhaps if we found other ways to make hospital birth a more intimate experience, we wouldn’t have to rely on our smart phones for a (limited) sense of connection.