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Live on Twitter: It's a !

The Tweets started simple enough:

"# Showered, ready to go to the hospital. Today is D day! ... Busy checking in and doing the "are you allergic to anything" thing ... Going thru previous pregnancy and loss history. Running out of space." Then the mom gets closer to delivery: "Ouch!! Dry shave! ... Going in to theater! ... My husband stressing because ppl can see my butt. Me totally not caring. ... And here he is! #MaxDay"

#MaxDay was born to South African blogger and mom Tertia Loebenberg Albertyn last week. His birth was so popular in the Twitter universe that he became a "trending topic" for a day.

Baby Max may have been the most popular baby in Twitterers' minds, at least recently, but he's far from the first.

Dad Nick Wilson of the United Kingdom was living in Denmark two years ago when his son Daniel James was born. Wilson thinks he may have had the first live Twitter birth that day, May 8, 2007:

"I think a few hundred people were following the birth. The reaction was great, people loved it. It was a community thing, those that were following me mostly knew me, at least by name if not personally.
I posted every couple of minutes through the whole thing, right up until "it's a boy!" then there was stuff to do that couldn't be done with a mobile phone in hand...
My wife loved it. It was quite an easy birth, an hour before we were down the road having pizza..."

Reaction to parents who Twitter during labor isn't always positive, however. Readers of the New Jersey Star-Ledger slammed a blogger mom in New Jersey, who Tweeted on both her failed 9-hour induction two weeks ago and then posted a few Tweets for the actual birth of baby Evan last week. "Wish I could have written more during the process, but things were very quick and very painful," Skavich noted after Evan's birth.

After people responded with such negativity as comparing her to Octomom Nadya Suleman and calling her a "twit," Skavich wrote the following on her blog about why she wanted to Twitter the birth:

"My first induced labor lasted 28 hours. That's a long time, people, most of which is spent in bed connected to monitors, unable to eat or drink anything. Twitter is a welcome distraction that helps me pass the time and keeps me from verbally abusing my husband for nodding off in the chair. I'm not in this for the fame. ... My main priorities are rest, more rest, and then resting some more. Doctor's orders. Nothing else matters to me besides delivering a healthy baby."

What do you think of parents who Twitter births? Do you think it's a cool way to pass the time or is it TMI? How long did your births last and what did you do while you waited?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  May 19, 2009; 7:30 AM ET  | Category:  Babies
Previous: A Mother's Gift of Choice | Next: A World Without Technology?


I don't really understand twitter. I can't imagine stopping what I'm doing 50x a day just so I can tell people what I'm doing or thinking at that moment. But it's not like anyone is forced to read anyone else's tweets, so criticism seems unwarranted.

My first labor (30 hours), I walked. And walked and walked and walked. 16 hours of laps around the maternity ward, because I was there way too early (water broke) and the hospital was full and we didn't have a room. By the time we did get a room, I just wanted an epidural and a nap.

Second labor (15 hours), we talked between contractions until there was no such thing as "between contractions."

Posted by: newsahm | May 19, 2009 7:54 AM | Report abuse

I like the term "Twitter Quitter' - for people that have realized how unecessary twitter really is.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | May 19, 2009 8:04 AM | Report abuse

first labor, 5 hours between broken water and baby born. Second birth, contractions started before water broke-- water broken by delivery people and baby born immediately-- so less than an hour from first contraction to birth. with first labor, actually watched a movie with husband on his laptop during the early stages. With second, just screamed in total agony-- at least it was comparatively fast though!

Posted by: captiolhillmom | May 19, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

I've never learned twitter . . . mostly because I have enough to do with blogging and facebook . . . and also because I'm pretty sure it would such up another whole segment of time that I just don't have available. But I could totally see how the distraction during labor might be attractive!

Posted by: ElaineatLipstickdaily | May 19, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

My friend's sister Twittered during the birth of my friend's baby. Not too many times--maybe 6 posts in all--but I thought it was so fabulous to hear about the labor and birth as it happened! Otherwise, a lot of times you don't even hear about the birth for a few days, and you never hear about how the labor was.

For me, I was busy being in labor and can't imagine personally Twittering it. I think you have to have an observer do it, like my friend's sister did.

Overall, I think Twitter is good in only a few select circumstances. Birth is one of them. I truly do not care what anyone ate for lunch or that they are currently waiting in a hotel lobby to get checked in. I can't imagine being self-absorbed enough to think anyone would care about the minutiae of your day. Twitter just doesn't make sense to me. Obviously some people find it interesting. I find these people baffling.

Posted by: newslinks1 | May 19, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Wow! Nothing like experiencing a pregger as she pops, play by play, through the eyes of the delivering mom (or dad) in realtime. Twitter is the technology that makes this possible. Given that childbirth is one of the most exciting events of the human experience, I have one word that describes it - Cool! I mean really, really cool!

Coming up next from the hospital nearest you - the delivery room web cam! The heck with hours and hours of sitting around the waiting room wundering if you are going to get a niece or nephew from little sis, just visit the hospital's web site and point and click from the comfort of your own home.

We did the baby notification thing using the old school method - the telephone. After all 4 babies were born, my wife and I dialed a few dozen numbers, 1 by 1, and rehashed the story over and over again for each person who answered. Considering the new technology available nowadays, I think the old school method of notifying family and friends by phone makes the baby delivery experience more of a pain in the butt than it really needs to be.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | May 19, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

I think this is representive of a societal phenomenon in which if something isn't witnessed, it loses value. Any experience that is shared automatically has greater value. Its interesting to me, how there is a whole generation that is being fed by the acknolwledgement of others. Kind of like the old, if a tree falls in the forest and no one was there to see it, does it make a sound.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | May 19, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I enjoyed talking about the births of my daughters after the fact, when I could summarize the long parts and dramatize the great moments. And as I repeated some version of the stories to friends and family over time, certain phrases have stuck. Youngest DD knows she slid out like a "watermelon seed" and the doctor had to drop his gloves to catch her.
I love a good story and a good story usually requires some refinements in the telling. Immediacy is great with Twitter but I've loved telling and hearing the "stories" of births (and other life events) with my friends.

Posted by: annenh | May 19, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

moxie, it reminds me, all the time, about the movie that madonna made (in the 80s?) and warren beatty was her boyfriend, and he said something to the effect of: why do something if it's not on camera? Then no one will see it?
I never actually saw the movie but saw that clip a zillion times.
We're getting to the point that the experience doesn't mean anything anymore, we have to 'blog' it, we have to take pictures, we have to show others, or we're not complete. It's not the healthiest, I think.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | May 19, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

to be completely honest, I still don't know what twitter is. My first baby's due in one week and the only thing I want to focus on is a good delivery with him, I can't be bothered with these technological things...

Posted by: annwhite1 | May 19, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

if it distracts the good woman during delivery then power to her - whatever gets her through it.

but for crying out loud. i hope these people understand that there are only about 3 people who give a crap to hear the play-by-play.

Posted by: interestingidea1234 | May 19, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

My mother in law would have killed for labor and delivery tweets.

They received none. I mean, really. Can't something be personal and sacred between husband and wife, anymore?

For some reason, this seems even worse than video cameras in L&D to me. Put your iPhone away and go help your wife with her breathing and visualization.

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe | May 19, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Not a prayer. I didn't even want my parents/in-laws in the room with me; why would I want to broadcast such an intimate moment to the world? Maybe for sending the news after, but not during.

No. 1: failed epidural, uncontrolled contractions; spent the 5 hrs just gutting it out. Couldn't even speak, much less text. No. 2: epidural worked -- yay!!! Brought DVD player and watched Blazing Saddles until I started to get uncomfortable. Then plugged in iPod, which I had pre-loaded with appropriate focus-ey songs (Peter Gabriel's "Shaking the Tree," for ex.), and went inside my head.

Posted by: laura33 | May 19, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I have a hard time mustering up enthusiasm for anyone's kids. I'd probably stop "following" a person if I had to see their play-by-play of their kid's birth and any accompanying bodily functions.

I do have a twitter. I joined because someone invited me. I've updated exactly twice in two months. I'm just not interesting enough to let people know what I'm doing every second of every day. Sure, I update on Facebook, but that's different...most of my FB friends are fellow law students who will get the stupid joke about how Wills and Trusts at 9 am kept me from drinking on a Wednesday night.

That said, I can't lie that I'm glad I joined when it was the only way I found out about a friend moving back to Toronto. I was able to have one last lunch with him before he left...I guess among all of his last good-byes, he wasn't able to contact everyone personally. Still, he was talking about his plans to move on X day. He wasn't updating every six seconds with "packed up my underwear and socks...hope I don't lose them!" "OK, finished cutting the tape for the box, now I just have to make it stick!" "Oh no! Ran out of foam peanuts!!!!1!"

Posted by: Monagatuna | May 19, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, meant to say "twice in six months."

Posted by: Monagatuna | May 19, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse


All the hospitals I've visited in the past few years ban the use of cell phones and other personal electronic communication devices. If this is the case for most hospitals around the country, the decisian to tweat their labor is a moot point for the majority of expecting couples.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | May 19, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Otherwise, a lot of times you don't even hear about the birth for a few days, and you never hear about how the labor was.

Posted by: newslinks1 | May 19, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Just wondering why it's so important to hear "how the labor was"? If the mother wants to tell you about it later she will, if she doesn't, she won't.

Posted by: dennis5 | May 19, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Twitter is an absolute waste of time. "Just ate a sandwich!" Watched jeopardy!" Took a poop!" UTTERLY INANE

Posted by: pwaa | May 19, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm... Might have been nice to follow my nieces and nephews' births. Or to share my boys' births with aunts, uncles and grandparents - um, well, maybe not... but that's just (some of) *my* relatives.

I can't imagine tweeting the whole thing though. In my family we have really long, really slow labors. It would be incredibly BORING!

And I really can't imagine sharing with everyone; only sharing it with a few select people who are very-very close. Since I don't twitter, I don't know if that would be possible.

Posted by: SueMc | May 19, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

When my daughter was born, I read my favorite series of novels for until I got too uncomfortable. Then I woke up my husband and the baby was born a little while later. Start to finish it was maybe 9 hours, tops, including all that time at the beginning when you're just piddling around because you're not hurting, but you're too excited to do anything in particular.

Afterward, we did get to tell our birth story to quite a few people, but I think it was mostly interesting because not many people choose an unassisted waterbirth. I certainly don't believe that any of these people would have cared about the minute-to-minute details of dilation and placenta delivery.

I can't imagine twittering through birth.
The first part, there is nothing to tell. "I'm squatting, trying to open my pelvis." "I'm massaging my perineum with olive oil!" Once it really gets rolling, yeah, the time drags on because you're in pain, but you're also working too hard to focus on anything for more than a few seconds at a time.

I agree with all of you who think twitter is for the inane and self-important.

Posted by: jaxom | May 19, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Twitter is just another form of communication, and a way for expectant parents to keep in touch with friends/family (and that can include internet friends) during their child's birth. I don't think it's a big deal one way or another -- it's really up to the parents to decide what they are cool with. At the worst, it's just another (albeit public) way to celebrate new life.

Posted by: greensubmarine | May 21, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Tertia put too many comments on twitter and because she is so well known in Infertility circles it was a great way for her to keep everyone updated.

Posted by: capecookie | May 22, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

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