Feb 10 2011
By Jenn Riggle
While some hospitals are embracing social media and posting videos on YouTube and Facebook, others are taking a step backward.
Families have taken photos and videos in the delivery room for decades. But a recent New York Times article revealed that there are a growing number of hospitals that are barring parents from having cell phones and cameras in the delivery room.
Why? The video and social media capabilities of today’s smartphones have made it easier for people to take videos and instantly share them with friends and family.
Hospitals say they’re creating these policies to protect the health and safety of the baby and mother. They’ve even said that these policies protect the privacy of their staff. But let’s be honest, their primary goal is to protect physicians from litigation, since family videos can be admitted as evidence if there are complications during the delivery.
The bad news for hospitals is that creating policies like this will alienate them from Gen X and Millennial parents, who’ve grown up using technology to share the details of their lives. Facebook has become the place where people go to share life’s milestones, from the death of a loved family pet to a change in dating status or the first photos of their newborn child.
No surprise, media and mommy bloggers have been vocal about their opposition to this policy.
Tina Cassidy, author of Birth: The Surprising History Of How We Were Born, wrote about the issue in New York Magazine: “For today’s families, 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.”
It’s all about family traditions. One of my colleagues recently had a baby, and she said it was important for her to have photos taken of her son immediately after he was born, just like the ones her parents had taken of her after her birth.
Unfortunately, parents don’t have a legal right to bring cameras or cell phones into the delivery room. But they can ask hospitals about their policy on recording births. If they don’t like the policy, they can either try to negotiate a solution that will work for both them and the hospital – or shop around for a different hospital.
According to the New York Times, Massachusetts General Hospital doesn’t allow videotaping during childbirth, but across the city, Brigham & Women’s Hospital does. Both are wonderful hospitals with stellar reputations. It would be interesting to see how their recording policies in the delivery room impact where people decide to have their children.
Hospitals need to realize that prohibiting videotaping in the delivery room will impact where people decide to have their children. This is especially true if a couple’s obstetrician has delivery privileges at multiple hospitals. They’re going to pick the hospital that gives them the freedom to record their child’s birth.
It’s important for hospitals to work with families and give them options. Developing a disclaimer probably isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Perhaps a viable possibility is to provide a list of people who are authorized to record births at the hospital or to clearly explain where the family member can be when recording. But simply saying they can’t record is not a solution.
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