The Power of Birth Photography

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The Power of Birth Photography

When my friend Kerri and I discussed the prospect of her taking photos of my labor and delivery with babe number two I was really on the fence. My first labor and delivery had been photographed by one of the doulas present, but for some reason I never wanted to look back at those photos. In my head, I was still self-conscious about what I had looked like during labor and especially during delivery — I was still somewhat uncomfortable with it. However, I know Kerri is a phenomenal photographer and eventually Nina was able to convince me that I would want to document this birth, my last birth. (Maybe!)

Instead of presenting a traditional labor story where I detail every single step of the way, I’ve decided to share some of the photographs Kerri took of me, my husband, and Nina throughout the day. To say I am merely happy to have these photos would be a huge understatement. They are amazing and powerful. They are emotional and raw. They capture the beauty of the process and the incredible strength of each person involved, because when it came down to it, it wasn’t just me, the mother, that had to muster fortitude. My husband had to be an anchor for me, and stifled the pain he felt at seeing me in such pain. Nina, who may be little but is very mighty, had to work her magic all over again as she massaged and applied counter-pressure when I needed it most, and showed an incredible amount of restraint in the face of medical practitioners who didn’t seem to be listening to me. My nurse, Joy, who fought hard for me and what I wanted, occasionally flexing her muscles.

I look back at these photos way more often than I thought I would, and I see in them a confident and determined woman. In a way, they’ve encouraged me to perceive myself a little differently — kind of like “heck, yeah! I DID that!” It’s not that my first birth, which was also unmedicated, was anything less than this one, but perhaps the photographs this time just provide a different angle.

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I strongly encourage mamas, no matter what type of birth they have, to consider hiring a photographer. It’s a struggle to remember all of little moments prior to, and especially right after the birth, so the details a photographer captures are priceless; tears, grit, laughter, the clasping of hands and the gripping of fingers, stolen glances and sweet smiles, and, of course, that first moment you see baby. Really, how often do you get to document totally life-changing events?

Here is the story of Barrett Thomas Towsley: Chapter One.

After spending five weeks in limbo and pre-labor, our second little man decided it was time for his debut at 41 weeks. We arrived at Texas Children’s Hospital to find out I was four centimeters dilated, and 80% effaced. After walking the hospital for a solid hour, I was admitted to Labor and Delivery at five centimeters dilated, and the party got started!

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Nina working her magic early on.

Getting to transition required a lot of walking! I was stalled out at six centimeters dilated for a long time, and though the doctor on-call wanted to break my water, I didn’t feel that it was the right decision so quickly.

Sending some emails, getting some loose ends tied up for our Mother’s Day Soiree the next month!

Nina massaging my feet to relax me in between her working on pressure points to stimulate my contractions when they began to stall.

Conserving energy for prime-time.

This time around Nina wasn’t just my doula, she’s also a good friend. Which made the environment much more relaxing and, dare I say it, fun!

After a few hours without progress, Nina had me walk the halls and squat through contractions to encourage baby to move down further or force my water to break.

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{“I know you must be so frustrated right now.” – Nina “I’m not frustrated, I’m in pain!” – Lanie} As my body got closer to transition I couldn’t hold back the tears.

The moment my water broke!

Crying became uncontrollable as hormones surged!

My rock.

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After two BIG pushes, Barrett Thomas entered the “real” world!

What they don’t tell you; after-birth is still painful!

“Auntie” Nina cutting the umbilical cord.

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Barrett Thomas meeting his “Poppy” and namesake.

Again, I can’t encourage you enough to have your own birth story captured on film. I promise, you will look back at them and realize there isn’t a darn thing in this world you can’t do. 

I also want to give a HUGE thank you to my friend and photographer, Kerri Nel. She was absolutely incredible — from spending pretty much the entire labor with us, to being a complete professional in the sense that she stood back and I barely noticed she was there snapping away. (Except for that time when I told everyone in the room they needed to talk because the silence was awkward.) Kerri, you were a wonderful addition to my birth team and I am so grateful to have had another powerful woman and momma in the room with me!

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Baby Chick® Contributor

3 Comments

  • Christina
    July 11, 2016

    Wow! Such a powerful blog post. You did amazing.

    • Lanie
      October 12, 2016

      Christina, I’m just now seeing this comment. Thank you so much!

  • [email protected]
    February 27, 2017

    Beautiful.

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