When is it too much? Mail Online had a story on 10 November, about a father whose picture of himself grinning insanely while his wife is in labour went viral. We do wonder what happened after she read the reactions online…
But giving birth used to be a fairly intimate affair — with just the doctor and/or midwife in attendance, and possibly, the spouse. Today however, a baby’s entry into this world is becoming increasingly public, with many mums sharing details (yes, even gory ones), on their Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and personal blogs. It’s become par for the course for today’s labouring mums to post up-to-the-minute tweets that track every detail from cervical dilation to baby’s crowning. Many are even sending selfies moments before and after their babies’ births.
Says mum of two, Carolyn Ng, 30, “We are used to sharing every aspect of our lives — from the meals we cook, to what we buy on shopping trips and ‘outfits of the day’. Why not share our baby’s birth?”
Dr Christopher Chong, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital, notes that all his patients bring their mobile phones when they check in for labour. “I suspect all gynaes are seeing this phenomenon. Since the majority of my patients use epidural these days, they can happily use the mobile phone when they’re in labour as they aren’t in pain,” he explains.
Using Social Media for Support
Indeed, the Facebook support group Melony Chay, 28, mum to Delia, 5 months, cheered her on when she in labour. “It was like having this huge community of girlfriends going through the same thing with me…and it made the labour all the more bearable.”
Certainly, women who feel that giving birth is their biggest achievement are eager to spread the news to families and friends. Facebook is a very easy way to share happy birth announcements. “Plus, it’s trendy. People respond faster, too,” notes Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre.
Says Ng, mum to Joash, 1, and Germaine, 2, “Mere minutes after I popped, I got my husband to post a baby picture, along with the time of Joash’s birth, as well as his weight and length,” she chuckles. Within a day, well-wishers had sent her close to 300 “likes” and congratulatory messages. “It makes me feel united with everyone I know, whether they’re near or far,” she adds.
Do remember, though, that not everyone is keen to share your joy. Geraldine Tan, 39, mum to Giselle, 2, and Dexter, 8, is one such. She elaborates, “After having Dex, we tried for years to have another baby and had two miscarriages. It was a dark period for me and I would wince every time I saw another birth or pregnancy announcement.”
Xu Jia Yin, 30, mum to Holly, 3, hates it when new mums proclaim online that theirs was a smooth natural delivery. “It implies that a natural delivery is superior. I admit it could be a case of sour grapes, as I had to do an emergency C-section when I delivered Holly,” she says. She cites the example of her former new-mum colleague who had posted that women who chose C-sections were missing out on a big baby-bonding opportunity. “I was fuming and couldn’t look her in the eye for days,” she recalls.
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The Internet Is Forever
Of course, there are celeb mums who raise the social-media stakes even further (and don’t we just love to hate them?). Think lingerie model Sarah Stage, who flaunted her pregnancy six-pack on Instagram, then followed up with pictures of her incredible post-baby body.
By the way, while there is little harm in posting a few innocuous pictures of your little one, so that others can share your joy, don’t post anything that would put you or others in a negative light, cautions Yvonne Anjelina, director and chief etiquette coach at The Etiquette School, Singapore.
“Note that your potential employers or business partners tend to view your social-media account before making a decision to hire or do business with you, so it is crucial to have proper etiquette when posting on social media platforms,” she adds.
It may also be difficult to remove digital footprints on online social networking sites, notes assistant professor Natalie Pang, of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information. “Some things should not be shared, especially photos or stories that can impact your children in the future, or information that can be used by predators.”
She advises that parents ask these questions before they proceed with any social media posts: Am I sure I want to post this? Who am I sharing the content with? What information am I releasing other than the content of this post?
So, don’t push the limits of social-media sharing — certainly, no one wants to hear about enemas, episiotomies or haemorrhoids. Xu chortles, “Trust me, no one wants to see another woman’s placenta or the umbilical cord.”
The parental TMI often carries over to the newborn and toddler days, and it can become a pain for others, especially if the mum or dad posts every single event in his or her child’s life. This may range from “my baby’s first bath” to “Jayden’s first poo in the toilet”.
Anjelina points out, “Some moments are simply to be cherished within the family, and not shared with the world.”
Do also check with the nurses first if you are unsure whether you can leave your digital device on. Dr Chong stresses that mobile devices should not be used in the labour ward if certain pieces of electronic equipment is in use, as phones could interfere with the function of the machines. He explains, “It’s similar to how you’d have to switch off your mobiles for airplane take-offs.”
And You Missed the Actual Birth for a Post?
Indeed, some dads have been criticised for being glued to their smartphones and iPads while their wives are coping with painful contractions.
Guffaws Ryan Cheng, 30, dad to Megan, 1, who “pleads guilty to the charge”. “Sitting there for so many hours can get boring. But of course, if your wife needs anything, like a pillow or a sip of water, you have to be there to help her and not continue playing games on your phone!”
The bottom line: You don’t want to be so busy posting social-media updates during your little one’s arrival that you end up missing those sweet, awe-inspiring moments — all of which, by the way, can never ever be captured again.
Noting that technology can create a barrier between what is actually happening and what you are feeling at the moment, psychologist Koh points out, “Your feelings, what you see, touch and hear combine to give you a special experience that can’t compare to what you see on a screen. Once missed, it’s gone.”
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Social-Media Dos and Don’ts
- Do make sure to first alert the most important people of your baby’s arrival, before making that Facebook announcement — you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
- Do let your visitors know whether you want your baby’s photo (and yours) on their social media pages — especially if you want to announce it ahead of anyone else.
- Do consider making your post private, so only your closest pals and family can access the birth announcement.
- Do take time to savour the smells and cuddle your newborn instead of constantly checking your phone for congratulatory messages.
- Don’t post pictures of bloody placentas, baby’s first poop or weird rashes, please. Don’t talk about it either.
- Don’t broadcast your location or the length of your hospital stay. You don’t want to make yourself the target of social media-savvy burglars.
- Don’t post too many pictures if you’re not open to criticism or comments. For instance, how you hold your baby or what outfit you put him in.
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