New mothers encouraged to keep phones out of the delivery room

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

The creep of social media into birthing suites is being researched in what is believed to be a world first study.

New Zealand researchers are taking a closer look at the role Facebook, Instagram and Twitter plays in the "golden hour" after birth, after midwives across the country noticed a growing group of women preferring to connect with their followers instead of their newborns. 

It aims to evaluate the extent the internet and cellphones, particularly social media, affect mother and baby bonding.

Lead researcher, midwife and Victoria University academic Jayne Krisjanous believes it is the first study of its kind in the word. Although the study is in its initial stages, Ms Krisjanous says there are some interesting preliminary results emerging. 

"Everyone is connected and conscious of the interest and expectation around their birth," she says. But young families deal with that expectation in different ways. Some post to media immediately while others feel they need privacy.

"Once images and comments are posted however, there is an immediate wave of response that does seem to require some attention and responding to. This is where it can become disruptive." 

Ms Krisjanous says midwives traditionally work to ensure privacy and intimacy in the hour after birth, particularly encouraging skin-on-skin contact which helps mums "fall in love" with their newborn.

She says the newborn will be experiencing major circulation changes, as well as light, sound and gravity, and social media in the suite can be more of an incursion.

"For the baby it is a tremendously important time of transition with huge physiological changes occurring."


She says one midwife has taken to reminding parents glued to their phones: "You will never get these moments back".

Auckland mum Felicity Farrell, 32, dropped social media altogether after the birth of her son eight months ago. 

"I would say I'm on social media quite a lot. Got them all: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. But when I actually had my baby I don't think I picked the phone up for a good three days.

"That was completely unintentional as well, I just got to day three and thought 'oh my god, I don't have any photos'."

"I actually regret not having that many pictures in those first couple days - because now it's hard to remember that time."

She's in direct contrast to outspoken blogger Constance Hall whose public post of herself in the birthing suite sipping a can of soda and playing on her phone, while her husband attended to her newborn at the foot of her bed, caused outrage this week. 

"Possibly my favourite photo from the birth of Raja.... welcome to the Matriarchy," the post said. 

While some were critical others applauded her approach.

Hall said: "If a women wants to jump on socials and scream it to the high heavens that she's just had baby, or if she wants to cuddle the bub and classify it a sacred time, it's completely up to her.

"The most important thing is that we stop with the 'right' and 'wrongs' of birthing and parenting. It's ridiculous, because we are all so different. The only wrong thing is imposing your beliefs onto others."