If I had it my way having a birth photographer would be as routine as a wedding photographer. That a pregnant woman felt as beautiful and confident while giving birth as she did walking down the aisle, because she is. Until we get there, birth photography is a luxury that some woman won't have available or feel comfortable requesting. If you're headed into your labor and delivery without a professional behind the lens and have designated a spouse or other support person to be in charge of documenting your birth for you, here are five things for them to capture during your journey to parenthood. Obviously, there is the big stuff but there is a-lot that happens before and after the 'big event' if you will that are so special.
1. The Clock
Ok, this one I even forget sometimes in the moment but I work hard to remember to occasionally snap a photo of the clock. Why? So much of labor is a blur and things run together. How long did you walk the halls? How long was it you went without sleep? All of these questions are hard to answer after a long labor and delivery. I always try to grab a photo of the clock when you check in the hospital, when any momentous things happen such as water breaks, try a new relaxation method (bath, walking, sitting on a ball,) when she starts pushing and of course when the little one is born. You can add photos of the clocks as much as you would like as it will just make your timeline of events more easily remembered.These clock photos don't have to be just the clock, it can be of your room, or something happening in the room. Just make sure the clock is both in the photo and able to be read. This will help piece things together as you go through the photos of your birth story.
2. Moments of Relaxation, Rest, or Peacefulness
Sometimes you have to be patient for these photos but they do happen. Labor and delivery will be tiring, painful, and overwhelming at times but in every experience there are moments of peacefulness, smiles, relief, and joy. Capture them. Afterwards as a new mom looks through her images, the photos of her smiling or resting will help soften her memory of it all. It is easy to remember the painful or scary parts so it is amazing to see how beautiful and peaceful birth can be at times. As a photographer in the room I watch for them continuously and capture as many of them as I can. A moment of calm would also be a good time for Mom to take the camera and shoot some images from her perspective. Maybe it her view of her expectant partner or the machine continuously pouring out paper showing babes strong heartbeat.
3. The Surroundings
What is your room number? Was your nurse's name scribbled on the white board (usually under the clock, hint hint)? What was the view from your room? Summer, snowing, nigh-time or day? All of these things can be captured with a quick sweep of the room. Photograph the little things, the big things, and all in between. Even if you don't think it is important part of the puzzle, just snap a quick photo anyway.
4. How She Labored
Walk the halls, the bath, a ball, essential oils. Whatever it is, photograph it. Labor is work and to see ourselves working through the pain is a very empowering thing. With my first labor, almost ten years ago now, it is hard for me to remember all the different things I did to work through my pain. My last babe is very easy because I have images that documented the journey.
5. First Moments as a New Mom
You made it, you have the sweetest bundle of joy in your arms. All you want to do is put down the camera and hold and love on your sweet baby. But before you do take a moment to capture mom soaking in all the details of her new baby. She knew this little one long before they met. It is an indescribable feeling to see the little toes that kicked you or the little chest that had hiccups every day for the first time. Step back and photograph her taking it all in. Step in close and photograph how she touches the little feet and strokes the softest cheeks. Maybe she will be crying happy tears or smiling from ear to ear, but there is always a calmness and quiet that settles into the room during this time. The time before guests and siblings arrive to meet the little one but after the nurses and doctors leave. Capture the stillness, the calmness, and the relief that is in that moment. This is the best moment in the whole world, and you get to photograph the exact moment someone falls in love. Don't miss it.
The following two images are of my own birth photos taken by Jennie Peakin Photography. If you live int he Quad Cities, hire her. Jenniepeakinphotography.com
It is an amazing experience to witness a birth and it is a special priviledge to photograph one. Whether you are using an IPhone or a professional level camera, the important thing is these moments are documented and cherished for years to come.