Birth Photography

A daylight homebirth

When it comes to birth, my philosophy is that what is good for mum is good for everyone. The January Harshe quote comes to mind:

"I don't care what kind of birth you have...a homebirth, scheduled cesarean, an epidural hospital birth or if you give birth alone in the woods next to a baby deer. I care that you had options, that you were supported in your choices and that you were respected."

Im careful when I talk about birth/feeding because I don’t ever want you to think I would or could judge you for your decisions. Thats not my role. I subscribe to the concept of unconditional positive regard, which means that I believe in your decision making and will support you regardless.

So with this in mind, Im going to start sharing more birth stories on my blog (naturally, if you’re seeing it here that is because I have express permission from the families I serve)

The Arrival of Silver Lou

This particular birth I arrived just in time. Just.

We were awaiting the arrival of their third baby, mama had been on-again-off-again labour for two weeks. Dad called me around 11am and said ‘look im just heading home from work, she might be in labour…I don’t know if you want to come down?’ Since this birth was just over an hour from my home and I knew the traffic would be light I said ‘Look, id love to come down now and if I arrive and its too early or you feel like im bothering you i’ll leave.’ I found out later that as he left work the guys joked that he would be back in an hour.

As I pulled up out the front of the house and went to get my camera bag from the passenger seat I could hear mum and thought. Oh we are ON! My many years on the triage desk at The Womens’ Hospital has attuned my ear.

I raced across the road, took a deep breath and stepped into the house as gingerly as I could. They were right in the zone. Dad in the pool with mama and the nurses were relaxed but close by. This baby wasn’t far away.

When I went back to look at the time of the photos from the moment I arrived out the front of the house to babies arrival was nine minutes!

This mama so calmly breathed her baby out and I will never forget the looks on their faces when they realised they had a baby girl after two boys. Because Silver was born into water, the nurses explained, she hasn’t realised she’s been born. She was so calm as Rhiannon gently blew air onto her face as a way to let her know she had reached the surface.

Im so incredibly blessed to work with these amazing families who not only allow me to witness and document such a sacred moments but also allow me to share these image with you.

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Fine wine, cheese....some things get better with time

Some things get better witth time. Have you ever thought about purchasing something, ummed and ahhed and then eventually gone through with it?. Then as time passes its become more valuble? 

I had a family portrait painted by one of my favorite Etsy sellers. I think I had been following this artists work for about a year before I decided to take the leap and make the purchase. At the time it was slightly more than I would like to spend and it felt like such an indulgent purchase. Who was I to spend so much on something just for me? 

Fast forward 3 years and I'm ssoo glad I did! Shortly after I made the purchase she announced that her business was going in a different direction and she would no longer be doing custom portraits. I loved this picture when she sent it to me and I think every time I look at it I love it more and more. Gradually the meaning of the picture changed, from a cute family portrait that we later printed on our wedding invitations, giving it so much more meaning. 

Its now printed on high quality, 300gsm paper, framed and has pride of place in the back of our lounge-room. The picture has already moved house with us once and I can only imagine what will unfold in the future. 

So if you're hesitating when it comes to either birth photography or updating those family photos, whether its because you want to lose a few kilos first or because it seems like an indulgent spend. I like to think of the 'front porch' analogy. Now I have no idea why the oldies in this story like to sit on the front porch..but thats where they hang out. So think....you're an old lady sitting in your rocking chair with your bestie rocking next to you. What are you talking about? How tidy your house was when you got a new Dyson? Or how your life got better the older you got? Are you marvelling at how tiny your waist was when you were in your 30s and cursing that younger version of yourself for being stressed out about the occasional indulgence? Are you flicking through your family albums? I don't use the word 'investment' when it comes to photography because I know that you wont one day sell these photos and get a great ROI. What I do know is that financial markets aside, what is the point if not for a little indulgence? Not only will your-elderly-self thank you. But your great-great grandchildren will too. As much as I hate to think about it, I do worry that future generations will be left with millions of fast photos in a cloud that they never look back at. So hire a photographer, whether thats me or someone else. Hire someone to capture these memories forever and to distill the story into an album for the ages. 

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Picture by Jess Miles of In the Daylight

Hubby said no to Birth Photography

...and here is what happened next.

When women first started telling me they would love to have a birth photographer but their husband would never allow it I’ll confess I was a bit perplexed. Was this an indirect way of saying ‘no thank you?’ or did their partners really dislike the idea of birth photography?

As I delved deeper into their concerns, these are some of the thoughts that were holding them back:

  • What if how I'm presented in the photos isn't true? 

  • What if I'm not good enough at my support role and it shows in the photos? How will she reflect on that?

  • It should be 'just us' - of course there will be medical staff, but there is something about inviting an additional person who doesn't need to be there into this sacred space.

  • There is a huge uncertainty factor in birth, what if this stranger is annoying, loud, has bad B.O and is interrupting our precious family moments? 

  • We're cultured to not let anyone take photos of us displaying vulnerability, but anyone who follows Brene Brown's work or any birthing mother knows along with vulnerability there is strength. 

Ive met with reluctant husbands/future fathers who after meeting with me, expressing their concerns and asking all of the questions, say they now see the benefits of me being there. 

We live in an age of social media, where everything is shared online. Of course when I take photos for you they are your photos to share as you please but its not the reason I do this work. For me, these photos are something precious to reflect on in years to come, when your baby hits double figures, or when they start high school or have their first kiss. You can reminisce about the night they arrived and these moments can be enjoyed for generations to come. Your great grandchildren will look in awe at these photos.

I think the more we use technology the more appreciation future generations will have for archival quality paper and timeless photographs. 

It's also worth noting that its not in my interests to take unflattering photos of you! Photography is an art, I've studied great photographs and I've made mistakes that inform my current approach. My role is the take photos that show a strong mum and her support team. I want you to look good. 

One reluctant dad turned to me after assisting with the arrival of his daughter and placing her on mamas chest  he turned to me and exclaimed "Best decision ever!"

You see, with the birth of this couples first daughter, dad had taken some iphone shots and while they will always have those photos ..

what was missing for dad was ...presence. 

So invite me in, ill respect your sacred birth space. You may not even notice I'm there and after its finished and you're home nursing a newborn a little package will arrive on your doorstep for you to relive those moments of birth. Together. 

Want to book a coffee date with me? Pop on over and send me a message.