Wondering whether you should take photos of your birth? The short answer is… yes, you should! If you’re against the idea or on the fence, you might think you’ll be too bashful, grossed out, or nonchalant to ever want to look at them. But wouldn’t it be nice to know you have the option, just in case you have a change of heart?
If photography is in your birth plan, make a point to designate someone responsible for charging the camera ahead of time and setting the time stamps correctly. They should know how to operate the camera (especially in low-lighted settings because flash might disturb your labor). They should be prepared with a list of moments you don’t want them to miss (whatever you think will be meaningful to you — the birth altar you spent an hour setting up, crowning, first latch, separation of the cord, any surprise events, get creative!).
Get photos of your birth because:
1). They’ll help you remember the details.
I was able to write a rather detailed account of my second labor thanks in great part to the photos. You really do retreat into your own little world (Labor Land) and things get a bit… fuzzy. That birth high is wonderful but it doesn’t do much in the way of servicing your memory.
Also, because time is up to interpretation in labor (every minute either feels like two hours or two seconds, somehow never a minute), you’ll probably want to send a fruit basket to whoever invented the time stamp feature on modern cameras.
I had no idea my husband rubbed my feet right after my youngest son was born. I don’t even know if I was vaguely aware when it was happening. I just remember I felt ecstatic! I’m sure the foot rub had something to do with it, and hey, see, it happened… and I even know exactly when, and which essential oils he used (visible in another photo), because my doula and photographer had the foresight that I might feel fondly about the moment if able to review it later.
2). You might want them for posterity.
How cool would it be to see how you came into this world? Your absolute first Earthly experiences outside the womb. What did you see? What did you touch? What if the mystery of your introduction to this life was shattered just by seeing the look on your mother’s face after she delivered you, or the look on your own face when you took your first breath?
Your children may not care to see how they were born, and that’s totally fine. But what if they do? There’s nothing weird about birth, and nothing weird about being interested to see it. Would it feel worse to know they’re disappointed you can’t provide birth photos to satisfy their interest, or to have spent energy convincing someone on your birth team to capture the moment — just in case?
3). It doesn’t have to be a special expense.
Birth photography might not be in the budget, especially after the car seat and hundred onesies with ironic captions and everything else. But birth photos don’t have to be taken on a fancy camera held by a professional. Of course, there are numerous benefits to hiring an expert, but there’s no reason to forgo photos just because there’s no extra money to secure one. Almost anyone else in the room can be tasked with taking photos. (In fact, all of the photos in this post were taken by my doulas).
The benefits of hiring a professional? A true pro has practice staying out of the way, acting stealthy, blending in with the environment, while echoing calming labor vibes for you and lending the whole event her undivided attention. When she does need to get in close to capture more intimate moments (like first looks and first latches), you won’t even notice her. Promise! Plus, she’ll take care of the drudgery of photo editing so you can rest easy and enjoy your newborn baby.
Most importantly, though she supports your birthing time, she’s not personally invested in it. This means her emotions won’t risk jeopardizing the quality of work she does or cause you to worry about what she needs.
4). They can help you feel empowered.
My birth photos aren’t much different from other pictures I take with my family. Birth is so normal, common… But still they are so special and unique.
I was more than just ‘there’ — I was in it. My birth power generated all this energy to draw in these helpers, these people who were excited to be there, who were meant to be there. Something big happened here, and I made it happen.
A supreme process equally biological and spiritual used me to bring a new person into the world. (Where’s the space for this kind of thing on my resume, I beg to know?) With photos, I forever behold the whole story as it was. The story of the best work I ever did — normal, common work, yet the most powerful work too.
I love that I have a visual record of both of my births. Proof that I was, at least for those hours, capable of this accomplishment, and of total confidence and trust in myself that everything would be okay. In my children’s birth photos I see the unmistakable reflection of the Universe looking out for us.
Click here to read my second birth story and see some of my birth photos by Stephanie Shirley Photography.
Oh Stephanie is quite amazing, isn’t she?!