As if sending out birth announcements isn’t enough of a warm way to welcome and officially announce your little one to the world birth photography is now trending around the world. This means that your birth announcement doesn’t just have to include a beautiful air brushed photo of your little one sleeping peacefully wrapped in a pink or blue blanket but could also show the world the first ever picture of your baby’s head as it crowns from your vagina. Gross? Or beautiful?
The question is this. Photographing birth. Should you do it?
The reality is that the correct answer to that question depends on the personality of the mother. For centuries, birth was a closely guarded event, only tended to by physicians and the closest of family members. Birthing plans utilized for decades have long included a section about what (and who) the expectant parents want to see in the delivery room. Many women felt, and still feel that what goes on in the delivery room is a sacred event, one that will live on forever (whether photographed or not) in the hearts and minds of the happy parents and family members. Other moms, perhaps less protective of their privacy, invite nearly anyone in the room to catch the first bloody glimpses of their newborn as they make their grand entrance into the oxygen-inflated world.
Birth photography is becoming ‘almost’ as popular as wedding photography and just recently formed its own professional organization called the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers. To date, they have over 500 members. And most of the renowned birth photographers have videos and pictures available on their website used by permission from birthing mothers to show off the marvel of the human birthing experience.
Truth is that parents today want to preserve ALL the moments of life with high tech devices and technology so it only makes sense that newbie parents would be excited about the prospect of hiring pricy on call photographers to take both pictures and video tape of the birth. In one respect, it makes perfect sense. The mother so busy with the actual physical birthing process, doesn’t always have the opportunity to just sit back and revel at the miracle that is taking place. Between labor pains and hovering doctors, she often times misses out on the grand arrival and holding a mirror to the nether region isn’t quite as revealing as watching the blood, sweat and tears it takes to bring a human into the world. Preserving the experience for her to revisit at a latter time can be a healthy way for new moms to experience their own births in a new way.
Plus, while even the squeamish may shy away from the blood and gore that comes standard in a delivery room being able to record your facial expressions the first time you met your son or daughter, seeing the reactions of loved ones, hearing the first cries of your baby, and seeing the reality of birth through the eyes of a birth photography can be seen as a beautiful momentous keepsake. At least for some people. The birth of a child is a once in a lifetime thing. Yes, it is beautiful. Yes, it is a miracle. Yes, it is amazing. Is it photo worthy? Only you can decide.
According to statistics, around 87% of all delivering mothers have some sort of cameras in the delivery rooms. Smart phones are fast becoming the most popular way to capture pictures on the go, and most women have some record of the delivery room. Of course, many of these pictures are not ones they want to see again, while others are heartwarming shots of the first kiss. These pictures are different from hiring an actual birth photographer. A birth photographer is normally a perfect stranger a professional, who will stand on call and take random shots during the delivery process. Her (or his) job is no different from that of a wedding photographer, and they may get some up close and personal shots of the birthing process. While some of the pictures may be heart warming and beautiful, others may be photo bombed by shots of blood and gushing umbilical cords. However, in the end edited and photo shopped and presented to new parents, the ability to hold on to the delivery room can be a very warm first recorded memory.
As imagined, birth photography comes with a hefty price tag. Not only are the birth photographers on call once they are hired, but some are rumored to charge around $3,000 or more. For many expectant parents, this is the final factor in deciding whether birth photography is right them or not. If you cannot afford a birth photographer, then perhaps a trusted friend or family member can fill in and get some intimate shots (sans the vaginal crowning) of the first moments of your child’s life.
The birth of any baby is a personal and intimate experience for the expectant parents. Whether you want to preserve it or keep the moment to yourself is totally up to you. At least now, in a day and age where anything is possible expectant parents have choices. To film or not to film. That is the question.