What is birth photography?
Birth Photography is a photojournalistic style of photography that documents you, your baby, and your birth support team throughout labor, birth, and immediate postpartum.
Birth photography isn't just photos of babies crowning and doesn't have to be that at all if that's not what you want!
However, having worked in hospitals for 8 years and given birth to four children of my own, I'm not squeamish or shy about taking whatever birth photos you want from your big day.
To remember you are beautiful, powerful, and supported in the early postpartum days when you feel frumpy, vulnerable, and alone.
Labor and birth may seem to last long, but they are just a blip compared to the 4th trimester and parenthood. It's easy to forget how AMAZING you are when you're feeling weak, in pain, tired, unshowered, and all those other frumpy feelings that can come with those early postpartum weeks.
Your hormones change, your milk comes in, and you're learning to care for a new human while giving your body the extra care it needs to heal and thrive.
It can be overwhelming at times!
In those moments of overwhelm, you can look back at pictures of labor and birth and see your husband, your sister, your mother, your doula, your midwife, your OB, your nurses, even your children surrounding you. (Wow, I'm tearing up thinking about that.)
You can remember that you're not doing this parenting thing alone!
It's not ALL about the baby (yes, I know it feels like it).
You are an amazing, loving mama doing your very best for your baby from the moment you knew you were expecting, through ALL the pregnancy and birth decisions you have to make, now, and for the rest of your time on this earth.
To reminisce about your baby's birth with every milestone and birthday in the easiest possible way: flipping through photos!
Obviously, right? Maybe not so much. The early days of caring for a new baby become real fuzzy real fast. If you don't write down the details of your birth immediately, it's easy to forget... for good.
If you're a first-time mom, you might not even know what kind of details you'll want to remember until you look back and realize you don't remember as much about your big day as you thought you would. (Sadly, I say ALL this from experience.)
Birth photography documents the details for you so you can focus on your baby and your healing in those early days. When you're ready, flip through your photos and remember how AMAZING you are (remember reason number 1?), remember how small your baby was, or write out your birth story with clarity. As each birthday approaches, you can reminisce about your baby's birth in a tangible and powerful way: through professional, beautifully edited photos you'll want to break out year after year.
There's no better way to prepare for a birthday celebration than to see and remember that strong mother-baby bond. Celebrate life, love, your baby, and YOU with photos from your big day.
Make the unknowns known. Normalize and celebrate birth in all its glory and unpredictability. Take away the fear and mystery of birth to empower future generations of parents- even your own children!
This comes with sharing your birth photos, if you choose to do so. (If you haven't already read: birth photos don't HAVE to include any nudity at all if that's not what you want. Birth photos document more than just the pushing phase!)
When pregnant mamas get to see real life examples of ALL the variations of normal birth, it helps them prepare more practically for their own birth. I know because I was one of those mamas who found so much power and encouragement in seeing birth photos and videos of other mamas!
This can even benefit YOUR OWN CHILDREN - your daughter as she prepares for her own birth or your son as he prepares to support his partner in giving birth.
Get your birth partner away from the cell phone and into the photos, fully focused on you in your big moment that you'll never get back!
This one is my favorite and was the biggest problem I had with not being able to find a birth photographer anywhere near me in Upstate New York or Vermont.
Would you expect a groom to be the primary photographer at his own wedding? How about the mother of the bride at her daughter's wedding?
Of course not!
Imagine if you could have professional-quality, professionally edited photos of you AND YOUR HUSBAND from your family's big day and not have to worry one second about who's taking photos (or if you'll get any at all)!
You have more important things to think about when you're birthing a human, like, you know, birthing a human.
"I wanted a photographer to capture unique moments of my birth without my husband having to worry about taking photos. I’m disappointed I couldn’t find one and definitely would have hired Jalina to be my birth photographer."
—Alex. A, NY mom of three
Process details of your birth that maybe didn't go as planned and celebrate those that did.
After the wild, precipitous birth of my 3rd son that included a 5-car police chase and officers staged at the hospital emergency entrance with their guns drawn on us, I asked a nurse for a pen and paper. I wanted to start writing my birth story because I could feel the details meshing together and fading away by the minute.
Of course, nurses have other things to do, and that nurse didn't return for several hours, pen and paper in hand. I had already furiously thumb-pecked thousands of words describing my birth into my phone while my husband slept off the adrenaline rush and I tried to enjoy my newborn. I knew the story of his birth would inspire and encourage me for years to come, so it was worth the sacrifice of time, but...
It would have been SO much easier to have a photographer to capture all the details so I could focus only on my newborn and reference the pictures later as I took my time to write my birth story.
And what I wouldn't give to see the looks on my and my husband's faces when our wild son was born! To see for myself the police cars I couldn't see on the other side of the truck, or our laughing faces after I was served toast burnt on one side at 3 in the morning 😂
Sure, my husband snapped a few cell phone pictures of our baby's first latch and, later, our baby snuggled on my chest in the morning light, but having a photographer would have allowed him more time with us, and me more time with my newborn as I desperately tried to recall the wild events leading up to our son's birth. (See Reason 4!)
I offer birth photography so you and your family don't have those same challenges we did.
Learn more about your birthing self and preferences so you can better prepare for any future births.
I mean, how cool would it be to look back and see from an outside perspective exactly what position you delivered in? Or the position you first nursed in and how you might be able to make it more comfortable for next time?
Maybe you'll remember to prepare the ice water earlier next time instead of scrambling for it during transition. And don't forget the straw because remember how you couldn't quite drink from a cup in your preferred labor position? Oh, hi, speaking from experience again.
You can see and remember that you liked when your husband did *that thing* but not *the other thing*.
See how your chosen labor and delivery outfit did or didn't work to make an informed decision about what to wear next time.
If your older children were present at your birth, you can not only see the reactions on their faces unlike when you were in Labor Land, but you can use the photos of them to inform your decision about if or how to include them in your next birth.
This list could continue in so many ways!
Some moms report a decrease in the likelihood or severity of postpartum mood disorders following births with photography compared to those without.
This is a big one and I'm going to be careful how I share about this because I don't want to mislead you. I do not claim that birth photography will guarantee the prevention of any perinatal mood disorder. That said, I've heard this same story enough times to include this reason in my top 7 reasons for hiring a birth photographer.
Reason 7 goes along with Reason 5 which is that birth photography helps you process your birth.
I've heard the same story of moms being able to go back to their birth photos to remember and deeply process the events of their labors and births - especially the details that did not meet expectations.
Birth is unpredictable and largely uncontrollable. When birth doesn't go as planned, newly postpartum moms can experience a wide range of emotions, from disappointment to grief to depression. In some cases, the disappointment or grief from certain aspects of a mother's birth story can LEAD TO the depression (or rage or anxiety, or other postpartum mood disorders.)
Having endured 7 miscarriages of long-awaited, very much wanted babies, I know that there's no way around grief, only through. When you take time to intentionally acknowledge, feel, work through, and reframe your grief, then deep and long-lasting healing can begin.
Photos can help with that. I've taken and used photos myself in processing through my own grief, so I know the power of this technique.
This topic is too heavy and complex to fully address in one little segment of a blog post, but if you are considering birth photography AND you have a particular interest in protecting your mental health in the delicate postpartum phase, consider that the two may go hand-in-hand.
If you believe you or your partner are struggling with a postpartum mood disorder check out Postpartum Support International.