Packing for the Hospital in the Age of Technology

I’ve started making a list of things to pack in my hospital bag for labor and delivery (here’s the outline so far), and one thing that strikes me is how much cutting-edge modern technology some of us use in an experience that is as old as time.

Many moms pack a whole separate suitcase of techy things to keep them occupied during labor – a laptop, an e-reader, a tablet, an iPod, a handheld video game system, plus the tangled nest of cords and chargers to go with them. And of course we can’t forget the “essentials,” like a cell phone and at least one digital camera.

Even the all-natural, drug-free, home-birthing hippie mamas whom I know have surrounded themselves with technology for their babies’ births. Laboring away in their inflatable tubs, surrounded by organic aromatherapy candles, these moms still have multiple cameras and camcorders, smartphones for texting labor updates to friends and family, and a computer nearby to alert Facebook and Twitter followers with those first snapshots just moments after they’re taken. Maybe a custom mix of soothing music is playing through the stereo system they have hooked up to their iPod. Maybe their older kids are in another room watching Netflix streaming through the Wii.

I think it’s wonderful that we have so many ways to record and share and celebrate something as important as birth (not to mention things to distract us from the pain of those early contractions), and I hope my kids will get a kick out of seeing this stuff some day too. Three cheers for technology, I say.

Which gadgets will you have at the birth of your baby?