There are many questions about birth photography and I’m here to answer them for you.
I’m Aleksandra Whiting the photographer behind Aleksandra Whiting Photography, I’ve been a photog since 2009, I am a mother to five kiddos, a certified birth photographer and a soon to be Doula!
As birth photography becomes more prevalent and is finding its place within hospitals, birth centers and home births, mothers are seeing more and more images of brave mommas who choose to share their raw moments and first connections with the world. With these images come many questions from expecting mothers and fathers alike and I want to take a moment to share answers to some of the questions I get asked often. Let’s dive right in!!
First and foremost I want to address the squishy faced reaction from people who may not understand why someone would want to document “THAT”
Birth can be a messy and intimate moment, things happen during labor that some people just don’t see as something that should be captured and shared forever. So let me ask you this, if you have had children of your own do you remember the first moment you laid eyes on your brand new, squishy baby? Do you think that it’s a moment you’d like to relive over and over? Do you remember what your sweet baby looked like? They change so fast, it’s sometimes hard to remember! Are you expecting and wish that your mother could tell you everything in detail about your own birth day? How about if you’ve had babies already and all your close friends wanted to hear your birth story in detail, wouldn’t photos make your story so much more real?
Although labor can seem like it takes an eternity at times, your baby is born quickly, those first moments pass and once they are over, they are over. You can never go back and re-do the moment you first met your child. So contrary to some people’s belief, birth Photography is not about getting graphic details (although some people like to see the whole process as well, and that’s ok) but it’s mostly about showing the support, the love, the strength of mothers and the first loving connections families make with their brand new additions. It’s also a great plus to be able to get all the details such as fingers, toes, weight, length of a baby within hours of birth. Babies change rapidly and drastically within the first hours and days!
Another question I get asked almost right away is, “What happens in case I need a c-section?”. Although most mothers have plans to give birth vaginally, emergencies happen and sometimes photographers are not allowed into the room while a c-section takes place. Certain hospitals have very strict policies about this topic while others are a bit more lenient. In the case of a photog not being allowed, the photographer can hand over their camera on auto (if allowed) to a support person who is allowed and edit the photos later, the photographer can stay around to take photos post-op and/or add in a Fresh 48 session while you are still in the hospital. I also talk to my clients ahead of time about their involvement during these situations in order to have more of a chance of me being allowed into the room.
Next question! “How do I know if my MD is ok with photos being taken?” It is really important that you have a provider that understands and respects your desires for your birth and the story you want captured. As women are becoming more empowered and realize they have choices during labor, OBGYN’s, midwives, and nurses are becoming more open and supportive of birth photographers being present. Many birth teams love what they do and appreciate the opportunity to have a picture of themselves at work! If you are certain that birth photography is a must have for your babies arrival, I suggest bringing the topic right up away to make sure the person/team delivering your baby understands and respects your wishes. I have witnessed parents switch health providers after not seeing “eye-to-eye” with their Doctor.
Next one! “What if I don’t want my “lady bits” photographed?” Mama, you’re not the only one! An experienced birth photog should go through a meeting with you to go over your birth plan and your level of comfort. This is a great question by the way! A photographer can stay at the head of the bed and shoot down without ever having to see your private assets, another great angle is at the side of the leg. This angle allows to see the head emerge without any unnecessary nudity. The latter is typically more doable during a birth center or home birth as there’s usually a little less equipment and people in the room so a photog is able to get a little closer in.
Next question! “It’s my first baby and I’m not sure how I’d feel about someone else in the room, will it be awkward?” It is such an honor to be chosen as a birth photog, and with this role we have a huge responsibility to keep the birth space safe and intimate. With that being said, I personally like to meet “my” birth mamas ahead of time and talk about the expectations they have from me. I typically tell them that they should treat me as medical staff. I’m not there to get in their way, I am there to provide a service, I am not there to be entertained or worried about. I try to stay quiet and will not chat with you unless you want to talk to me! I want you to feel like you can go ahead and enjoy your time anticipating the arrival of your baby without having to worry about anything. Professional Birth Photographers witness many things, we don’t judge your conversations, your choices during labor or how vocal you are! I have witnessed silence and full on screaming during births and there’s really nothing new! Also, please remember that you have the ability to ask us to leave whenever you’d like and we can come back when you are more comfortable, when you have rested or even after the baby has been born.
“When do I contact you?” Every photographer has different directions on how and when to contact them. Hopefully they have gone over your past history if you have delivered a baby before. This information can be helpful in setting up a plan however all births are different, moms with a few children can tell you that all their birth stories were distinct. It is important to note that our goal is to be there during active labor and delivery so adequate warning with even small signs may be helpful. It’s not uncommon that moms will contact me before contacting their health provider! We will typically not head out until your contractions are regular and when dialation is at about a 5 if the mom chooses to have that checked. Our protocol may change if there is history of fast labors at which point we will be on the edge of our seat and head out as soon as you know baby may be coming.
“What if you have an emergency and can’t make it?” This is a question that I wish more parents actually asked and thought about. In the new digital era it is much easier for individuals to grab cheap equipment and assume that birth photography is something they can just show up for and make money at but those with experience know that on-call is nothing to scoff at and that even with extensive preparation accidents happen and we simply cannot make it. I have already mentioned that birth is something that cannot be re-lived or redone so an emergency plan should always be put in place. Professional photographers need to have a reliable back-up photographer that can step into place should an emergency arrive, they should have a way to communicate all your information to them quickly so that they do not disturb you during the delivery of your baby while knowing all your preferences and no-no’s.
There are many more questions you may have and I highly recommend that you are straight forward with your potential photog and ask away. I really hope this had been helpful to you. Please make sure to check my blog often as I will be posting many more helpful articles to help you have the best birth story you can have. Til next time! Hugs.