Monday, March 25, 2013

A First Foray into Birth Photography

I was so touched and elated when my friend Helen asked my to take photos at the home birth of her son. When she sent me a text message at about 1 am on March 19 telling me to come over, my camera bag was packed and ready by the door. 

When I arrived and got myself together, it was almost two in morning. I learned the midwife (who was also my midwife) was already at another birth, as was her assistant. A doula neither myself nor Helen had ever met was on her way to help out. Helen was already in her bath tub, vocalizing through contractions. 

Helen's husband Lou was the official back rubber and hand holder. 

Around that point, close to 2:30 am, Ashley the doula arrived. I guessed Helen to be in transition by the pace of her contractions and the vocalizations she was making. Ashley let the midwife know the baby was not going to wait for her. 

This was one of my favorite shots. Helen's two year old was awake for almost the entire labor and she did so great. 

Not long after, Helen was feeling pushy and wanted to get out of the tub. We ended up laying down some towels and chux pads on her carpeted bathroom floor. Ashley had never caught a baby on her own before but she did a great job. 

At 3:17 am, baby Nicholas was born. He pinked up and started to breath without any trouble. For a surprise unassisted birth, everything went amazingly smooth. I was so proud of Helen! 

About 10 minutes after the baby was born, the midwife's assistant Celeste arrived. She helped with the placenta delivery. When the cord stopped pulsing, Lou did the honors of separating mother and baby. 

Nicholas nursed like a champ right away. I went downstairs and made my friend her first postpartum meal--a  beef burrito with black beans and corn. 

Celeste and Ashley did the newborn exam. Nicholas was 20 inches long and weighed 8 pounds even.

Getting dressed for the very first time:

The new family, minus their 4 year old Sara, who slept through the entire birth!

So sleepy after filling his tiny belly with colostrum. 

This was such an amazing experience for me and I learned a lot of lessons from Baby Nicholas' birth. It's very fun to be part of the birthy action but not have to do the actual work. It's also very tiring to be up all night without the oxytocin cocktail that comes after you do the actual work. Bathroom lights on a timer may be a birth photographer's worse enemy. My 50 mm lens was far too slow for the low light conditions I was in and I was surprisingly thankful for my kit lens.  All in all, it was an awesome first foray, and I hope I get the chance to do it again. 


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