Birth Photography - talk about an educational experience!
(Please note that the following images are modestly done and in good taste, but some images are not meant for sensitive eyes.)
You may have already read some of my other posts about my sweet friend, Courtney, and her family's wonderful impact on my life. If not, go check out some of my other blog posts - trust me, she's in there! As a new photographer, every experience is educational, and birth photography was no exception.
Instead of trying to share Courtney's birth story, I am going to give you some insights from my first birth photography experience. (Courtney's birth story may come later!) After reading extensively on the subject, and viewing some very powerful birth images, I knew that I wanted to give birth photography a try!
Courtney decided to labor at MCV - a hospital in Richmond, VA. As you may know, I live in the Fayetteville, NC area, so traveling to this session was a point of concern. Hours of stress, of course, ended up being obsolete because this beautiful mama was ultimately induced, giving me plenty of travel time.
When I arrived, Courtney had only been hooked up to pitocin for 15 minutes. Score!
(Courtney asked some of her loved ones to write affirmations that she could hang in the L&D room.)
(Amber, the wonderful midwife, reading over Courtney's birth plan.)
I had a great time visiting and laughing with Courtney, her husband Quinton, and her birthing support staff in between some early/mild contractions. Below, you can see her doula, Donna, performing some accupressure to stimulate the cervix and uterine muscles which would hopefully result in efficient contractions.
As her contractions became more intense, Courtney began vocalizing through them. I was unsure of how I would handle seeing her in discomfort for a few reasons; she is my best friend who I love dearly, I have never had kids and thus had no real experience with birth, and I wasn't sure how queazy I would feel!
Luckily, I felt myself becoming interested in the birthing process and took an observatory stance as labor progressed.
(The number on the left is the baby's heart beat. The number on the right is the intensity of the contraction, as read by her external contraction monitor.)
MCV allows laboring women to cope in a number of ways. Because Courtney decided to approach labor without pain medication, she took advantage of several different avenues of pain management: taking a hot shower, wading in the birthing bath, swaying from side to side, counter pressure, and more.
Friends, I need to take some time to brag on Courtney and her support system. A pitocin-induced labor done without medicated pain management can be a bear. When Courtney felt weary, she leaned on her support system to tell her exactly what she needed to hear. This kind of interaction was truly beautiful to watch.
(Meet Maggie, Courtney's supportive and encouraging L&D nurse.)
After spending some time outside of the room to allow Courtney to focus on laboring, Maggie came to the hall to tell me that it's time! Courtney was pushing, and her sweet baby boy would make his arrival at any moment! In the interest of maintaining Courtney's privacy, I will not share the pushing photos here. I will tell you, however, that watching a baby come into the world was a humbling, moving, incredible experience, and I highly recommend that you take the opportunity to witness this if it is ever gifted to you.
World, meet Gideon James-Ryan Waters - a 8lb 3oz beautiful baby boy!
Gideon was still attached to the placenta when the placent was delivered - a lotus birth. If you have a weak stomach, quickly scroll over the next image.
After resting up and giving Gideon time to adjust to life outside of the womb, Courtney's firstborn daughter came to meet her brand new baby brother.
I was thrilled to observe and photo-document the birth of baby Gideon. This experience has motivated me to further pursue birth photography! If you have enjoyed this post, or have any thoughts on the subject, please feel free to leave me any thoughts/questions in the comments section below!