I have been a birth doula for almost 7 years now and have attended around 250 births. I signed up to support women and their families through one of the most amazing experiences of a lifetime and to hold them up with my own body and soul through their first moments with a new human being.
I prepared myself for the toll it would take on me. Exhausted muscles, worn out limbs, sleepless fogs and aching of my heart from things unexpected.
You know what I did not prepare for? The trauma and hurt that I never expected to walk so many families through?
The devastation of “Birth Firsts.”
What is a Birth First?
It is the stealing of that moment, the first time it is said…
Our child is BORN!
That moment when new parents, whether it is their first, last or any in between, get to tell the world that their child has made it into their arms. For many it is a huge moment… like the kiss at the end of the wedding ceremony. For some, they get the kiss out of the way and get on to the party. Others have waited for that moment, that kiss, and dreamed of it their entire lives. Neither is wrong, but it depends on the couple themselves to decide how important it is to them. Not the guest. Not the friends and family.
As a witness to births, I see couples go through deciding how, when and who to tell first. It can be a huge deal to them, or sometimes not. Often there are some politics involved, especially with the variety of family antics we all experience. At times there are boundaries that need to be respected, maybe some family and friends need to be held off for awhile so the new mom and dad can feel ready and confident to face others after a private time of “cocooning in” with their new little person. Some moms are taking photos and posting it to Facebook within 30 minutes, some wait until 2 days after the birth.
All of these are within their rights. They deserve to make that decision. Often they don’t get to.
This is what I also get to see. The moment they realize that someone else has trumped them. A friend or family member has let out the “Birth First”. That private photo texted to two people is suddenly sent to an entire email list or posted on Facebook and tagged.
It happens so fast. Within minutes, cell phones are ringing, text messages pinging and Facebook page is blowing up with congratulations while mom still hasn’t had a chance to catch her breath and dad may not have even held his child yet. The moment was taken. They can’t get it back.
Often the stealing is unintentional. It can even be well meant and come from a place of pure joy and love for the family. Actually, new grandparents, aunts and uncles are high in numbers of guilt on this one. Their joy is genuine and the harm was not intended. Yet it is there. I get to be in the room and see the hurt and betrayal felt by parents who don’t get to announce their own child to their friends. They are almost always hurt, they feel cheated. They are blindsided. Trust me, intentional or not you do NOT want to be the one to cause that for them.
Over the years and families I have learned a great trick. You see, as a birth professional, I am even bound to not talk to others in the birth community. I follow HIPAA guidelines. It gets tricky when someone gives birth and their three friends, who I also served through their births, want the inside scoop. My answer is to always smile and say, “They were amazing and the birth was beautiful. You should ask them about it!!”
It’s not my story. Not my glory. If you have had the honor of being in the birth room or waiting room for a birth, I encourage you to do the same. Respecting their privacy is a great way to show gratitude for the honor of being included in the experience.
True, some parents aren’t that concerned about it. They don’t mind you telling for them. They may be relieved to have one last thing to do and feel honored that you are so trigger happy that you post before the cord is cut!
ASK THEM FIRST. Be sure that you have clear permission to talk to others, text others, post to the world. If not, DO NOT.
So here is a little help for you.
Birth Announcement Etiquette:
If you know that someone has given birth, but they have not announced it THEMSELVES on Facebook it is inappropriate to congratulate them, thus making the announcement that they may have been withholding. It doesn’t matter if you are family, friend, coworker or part of their fan club.
You are not Perez Hilton. No one needs to “FIRST” their birth. Please wait until the new parents themselves have shared the information to congratulate them. It is an amazing gift to respect their time together.
Respect their privacy, please.
That is all
OTHER POSTS TO READ:
Pregnant and In Love – The Pitfalls of Crushing on Your Care Provider