Why Families Are Choosing to Document Their Birth Story
Many invest thousands in photography & videography to relive their wedding (graduation, engagement, anniversary, homecoming), but what about remembering your birth story? I don’t know about you, but the day our daughter was born was the biggest day of our lives. I feel like no matter how crazy amazing the wedding was, the birth of a baby wins the award for life’s most epic experience. Our society spends thousands on weddings, from flowers to cake, food, linens, fancy rental cars for one day (not even a day) of celebration. The flowers die, cake & food get eaten, linens & rental cars go back, but the photos from the wedding day live on forever. The same applies to your birth images & video. You've gone through what might be years of trying to get pregnant, loss, 40-weeks of growing a special little soul inside, watching your body change and anticipating everything that's to come. Who will they look like? What are they going to be like? And when the moments start to unfold you'll likely want more than grandma’s cell phone pics to look at.
So what does it mean to document your family’s birth story? Why are these moments so meaningful and why is documenting them so important? Let’s get to it.
Birth photography can be a powerful tool to help heal from birth trauma for the birth person & their partner.
At some point after giving birth you’ll go through a period of processing the experience. For some the processing happens immediately and others not so much. I was somewhere in the middle. While I was excited and proud about what my body had done, I also experienced birth trauma. After the adrenaline wore off I didn’t want to even think about the experience anymore. I couldn’t journal because it was just too difficult and exhausting to rehash. It was in this period of in-between that most of my memories from birth faded. In this instance birth photography would have been a phenomenal tool for my postpartum recovery. For families who experience loss, physical birth trauma, or complications, having the ability to work through your story can help validate your experience.
Some people don’t want to risk not remembering their birth experience. They have a very strong desire for remembering the details.
In birth, the body is flooded with hormones (oxytocin, progesterone, oxytocin, beta-endorphine, prolactin, epinephrine, norepinephrine & cortisol) and the mix of these hormones trigger labor. Because of these hormones the body is able to give birth. For some, the mix of these hormones leaves us in a haze—not remembering much. And for some of us the haze doesn’t go away, it simple evolves. For me, it was major birth haze followed by a postpartum haze & adjusting to life life with a newborn haze. It’s been over four years since I’ve given birth and I struggle to recall just about any detail at all. Some people recall every detail from their birth experience and others don’t.
Imagine if you had a photograph or video highlighting one of the most meaningful moments in your life.
My husband and I spent a couple weeks in the Mediterranean before our daughter was born and it was the most amazing, life-changing experience. One night we enjoyed a late evening in Barcelona, drank a decent amount of wine & paella, and spent hours dreaming about our future together. If I had known better I would have hired a local photographer to document us on that date. It’s such a small, lovely piece of our history together. And to relive that moment forever would be pure magic.
By hiring a birth photographer you get to capture one of life's biggest moments for your family. Many of the families I’ve worked with make it a birthday tradition to watching their film & viewing their images and some revisit all the time. At some point our little ones will show less interest to watching their birth and that’s when the treasure of these images fully reveals itself. You will always be able to relive your story. You will be able to pass on this piece of your families history to your children and even perhaps your grandchildren. That’s really amazing when you think about it.
I never thought it was possible to love my husband more after experiencing his support in labor & delivery.
The obvious answer is that by documenting the experience you can relive those moments (and share them with your family) for the rest of your life. There are also lots of other less obvious reasons why family’s should consider preserving their story. Labor is filled with so many meaningful moments that it’s impossible to take in all at once—especially for the person giving birth. Literally, hormones are raging, the mind and body experience so many changes & sensations in a short period of time.I remember thinking because I was planning a med-free birth I’d remember all the details. It’s kind of ridiculous, really.
My respect & admiration grew exponentially for my husband in that birth room--I know the feeling is mutual. I would really love to see the uninhibited raw moments of connection between us. My heart will always ache that we didn’t document our story. Alas, we didn’t know any better. And if we have another, you better believe we’ll document it!
"I wish I knew birth photography was a thing when so-and-so was born."
Whenever birth photography comes up in conversation and the person I'm chatting with has children they almost always express some level of regret not preserving their story. If they’re not expressing regret, they’re staring at me wide-eyed trying to figure out what it all means exactly. “What do you mean you photography births?”, they ask.
Like many, we didn't have a photographer capture our daughter’s birth and it's something we both regret. At the time I knew very little about birth photography. At the time if just felt like one of those unnecessary expenses that sounds good, but just doesn’t hold enough value. We knew very little about how monumental our birth experience would be. After all, birth is a really private moment and I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable paying someone lots of money to take unflattering pics of me and my vagina while a baby comes out. If you find yourself thinking similarly I’m here to tell you that is not what birth photography is about. Here are a few more misconceptions I’ve encountered time and again.
Birth is beautiful. Exquisitely beautiful.
Laboring people are beautiful & their partners caring for them are beautiful. Their doula & the other carefully chosen birth professionals supporting the family through birth are doing something beautiful. Siblings waiting to come meet baby for the very first time. Love & beauty are spilling out of every second and what a gift it is to relive & share those moments for the rest of your life. And to be a child familiar with your birth, the power of the human body and the love that fills the air in those first moments together.