Birth is such a beautiful and moving experience… it’s also very unpredictable! Add that to this wild season of 2020, and having a backup birth photographer is a must. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become even more important with the “possible” exposures leading to a necessary quarantine. The thought of missing your birth, or other major events, makes me so sad, but the good news is that all is well with a trusty backup photographer.
If you’re looking for a birth photographer, make sure you choose one with a trusted backup. You might be thinking, “What!? Why would I need to think about a backup when you’re the photographer I want!?”
Don’t worry, my friend. In the event the backup photographer photographs your birth, you’re still MY client, and you’ll receive photos in the style you LOVE.
Let me explain how this works, and just one of many stories of why a backup birth photographer is so important.
“I DO” Love My Backup Birth Photographer
Please meet Tara from Tara Photography. We are delighted to be each other’s backup photographer and have been for over a year. This partnership allows us to serve more clients on the Seacoast of New Hampshire while knowing we can trust each other to care of the other’s clients. Together, we photograph clients from Exeter, NH, to Newburyport, MA, and all the way to York, ME!
Last fall, Tara was “scheduled” (quotes because a due date is so unpredictable) to photograph the home birth of beautiful Whitaker. She had one, small, tiny conflict around the same time as his due date – officiating a wedding! Tara hoped the two events wouldn’t collide, but to be safe, she reached out for me to be on deck and made sure the birth mom knew it was a possibility.
On that beautiful fall day, I received the call that I needed to photograph the birth, and I hustled my butt over to the home birth! You might think that walking into a birth without knowing the mom would be awkward, but it wasn’t at all! We didn’t skip a beat, and I was able to get to know this incredible mama in between surges
This being her third birth, things progressed quickly, and Whitaker came fast and quick on a beautiful fall day. He was in a hurry to join his older siblings, who came running over to see him come into this world. They also had a lot of fun exploring the placenta with Midwife Morgan from Flourish Midwifery from Wells, Maine. After that incredible experience, I handed the raw files over to Tara, who edited them to her style and delivered them to Whitaker’s family.
How a Backup Birth Photographer Works
Does it seem a little odd that I’m so passionate about educating you on the importance of a birth photographer? It’s because I am! Working with a backup photographer is an essential part of running a thriving birth photography business.
Having a backup in place shows my clients that I understand how important their baby’s birth is and provides my clients with peace of mind knowing their special day will be photographed.
In the event of, let’s say, a COVID-19 exposure, the health and safety of your family is my ultimate priority, and I would call on my backup to photograph your birth. You are always my client and all communication goes through me before and after! If Tara is the one who photographs your birth, she simply takes the photographs and hands over the raw images to me for editing and prepping.
Some of my mamas have asked to meet my backup, and that is totally fine! Since this is a very personal event, I would expect you to feel comfortable with the person photographing your birth. Even a quick Zoom with Tara in the months leading up to the birth can add even more peace of mind.
In an effort to keep all my clients safe, if there’s ever a hint of a COVID-19 exposure, I have used Tara to back me up for other sessions such as maternity, newborn, and family sessions. I’ve shared some of these photos on my own social media, and I bet you couldn’t tell the difference! 😉 If you would like to learn more about Birth Photography, please contact me today to set up a free consultation.
On the evening of March 9th, I arrived along with her midwife, Jessica from Roots of Life – there was snow in the forecast and with both of us an hour away we decided it would be better to get there before the storm hit. After a quick vital check, we gave mama space with her birth team (papa & her mom).
Emma has written her birth story beautifully and I am honored to be able to share it with you below.
To my Dearest Clyde,
It all began at around 5AM on Saturday, March 9th, when I awoke to noticeable contractions. I then woke your Papa and we discussed how this was feeling in comparison to the nights before, which were more like menstrual aches. Earlier in the week that Thursday, I had lost my mucus plug and then on Friday we met with the midwife for our prenatal visit. During that visit I remember speaking to her about how to get into the right mindset, considering you could come any day now or two weeks from then. As we discuss below, you came in due time. Papa and I thought this might be early labor based on the intensity and frequency of the contractions. Early labor lasted around 14 hours total which we spent documenting the contractions, drinking lots of water, eating nourishing snacks and listening to music. It was helpful that we also passed the time by taking our dogs for a walk, watching the KU basketball game and listening Jim Gaffigan, a comedian that always makes me laugh. It was a sign to me that it was still early labor because I could laugh through the contractions.
The surges of energy continued in my lower back and the bottom of my uterus. Throughout the day we documented how often you moved and when I felt the most intense contractions/surges thus far. As the surges began to elevate, your Papa was in contact with the midwife, sharing our progress. It was determined that she would arrive that evening as the tempo of surges increased. Your Papa and I labored through the night as the birth team helped to support and give us space. The team consisted of the midwife and eventually her assistant, your Oma (my mother), and the birth photographer. To help move labor along and manage my surges, we walked the stairs and utilized the heat of the shower. We also spent time in the birthing tub, it was comforting but we both were so tired from a long day of labor that we kept nodding off. We also tried other positions and activities like walking throughout the house, climbing the stairs, sitting on the toilet, as well as using the bed to lean on the birthing ball.
As labor increased and transitioned to active labor, we also listened to our hypnobabies tracks, attempted to rest between surges, utilized a heated rice sock on my back, used the rebozo cloth to sift my lower back and belly to relieve the energy, massaged my feet, and massaging my back by moving the energy down from my lower back to my feet. This lasted for about 16 hours, so I utilized breathing techniques to breath the energy out of my body and keep my mouth open and loose. Many times we found ourselves moving positions and leaning over to cope with the elevated energy from my surges. I cried once not from the intensity of the surges but out of frustration because of the vague timeline of labor. Throughout the process of labor the midwife was always nearby observing but never intruding. Her patience, trust, and wisdom were vital in allowing our labor to continue to progress at it’s necessary pace. I received two vaginal exams over the 16 hour active labor period and at each I was around 5 cm. This came as both frustrating and motivational, we discussed that my belly shape protruded quite a bit and that you (baby) may need more help getting down lower in my pelvis. To help reposition you, we utilized the rebozo cloth to hug you up and into my body. During this phase of my laboring I became vocal, trying to express the energy out of my body through my lungs and mouth. Our bigger dog Bo kept nearby and seemed to be interested, while our smaller dog Bella, didn’t seem interested whatsoever. We were very curious how they would react during the labor process and interestingly enough their roles seemed to shift later on.
By 11AM the next morning, we progressed through labor with the midwife often checking your heartbeat with her fetal monitor as well as checking in with me. As I sat in a rocking chair, attempting to rest between a surge, all of a sudden I felt and heard a large GA-GUSH! I exclaimed “My Water!” Everyone around thought I needed water and jumped to grab me a glass, but I clarified that my water had broke. The midwife informed me that things would possibly become more intense from here on out. She suggested we go and utilize the shower again to cope with the coming intensity. The dress I was wearing was now soaked with the amniotic fluid. While in the upstairs shower, I became very vocal and from then (11AM) until your birth (2PM) the energy was so intense, I didn’t know what to do with it. Earlier on, I could breathe through it and release that energy, but this lower uterus and back energy was big. As I progressed through the labor, my mind initially went to thinking that I was on an endless merry-go round, just continuing to cycle with no end in sight, but then I reminded myself that I was on a mountain headed to a summit. Your Oma (my mother) put on some very centering and instrumental music that helped me through the surges. I tried to harness it and focus on using it in my body as you moved through my pelvis.
I began to feel my pelvis expanding and wasn’t really sure if I should be “pushing” but it felt like things were progressing in that direction. Your Papa was a huge support as I leveraged him when I breathed and “pushed”. The feelings were intense and I rode the waves of energy slowly moving from standing, to leaning, and eventually to kneeling. I gripped your Papa’s forearms and squeezed as the energy passed. This was so intense and so exhausting. Eventually the midwife suggested I get on the bed, as I was on all fours on the hardwoods floor with a large amount of fluid around me. At this point, our bigger dog Bo had moved to snoring at the foot of the bed. Our smaller dog Bella, was now in the doorway listening intently but keeping her distance. I was primarily on all fours as I moved through the pushing surges for about 35 minutes. I felt very constipated through this transition and pushing phase, my body released a good amount of reddish fluid and eventually bowel movements. The midwife was supportive in reassuring me this was normal and provided support in cleaning all of the fluids up as we progressed. I let my body tell me how and when to push. At first it felt foreign and unsure, but as I continued I let my body take over and lead the way. As I pushed and breathed, eventually the midwife asked “ Do you want to feel your baby’s head?” I was so happy to hear that you were that close, I now had sight of the finish line. I reached down and felt the top of your head! What a motivation to meet you and a light at the end of this 33 hour tunnel. With these last pushes, I did feel the ring of fire as my body stretched to move your head through. I knew I just needed to get your head out and your body would follow!
Finally through breathing and pushing you came out! What a relief! The midwife passed you up underneath of me to your Papa and I. I exclaimed “ It’s a boy!” as you proceeded to pee. After a long labor of love you were born at 2:04 PM on Sunday March 10th, the day before your due date. It had been snowing big fluffy snowflakes throughout the day, but I was so focused on meeting you that I never had a chance to even look out the window. The midwife and her assistant checked you out and made sure to help you get the fluid from your mouth that you picked up on the way out. You cried to help get the rest out. I explored your beautiful body and rubbed the vernix that was all over your body into your skin. Your Papa and I got you into a blanket and hat as you rested on my belly and we held your hands. We gazed into your eyes with amazement. As time went on, the midwives refocused on me to make sure the placenta came out as it should. After just a few pushes and it came out intact, it was a gorgeous umbilical cord and placenta. Once all the blood from the placenta was transferred to you, it was time to cut the cord, your Papa did the honors. Then it was time to weigh and measure you. As the midwife assistant did that, the head midwife stitched up my third degree perineal tear. Your Papa comforted me as we gazed at you being weighed next to us. You had a long journey out, so you were ready to rest. The midwife team made sure that all was well and cleaned up before they headed out. We were so grateful to be able to settle into our comfortable home already.
The following weeks, we made sure to take it easy as we transitioned into our new little family. The midwife came to the house to check in with all three of us both physically and mentally. Making sure I was healing and you were growing! In order for you to grow we tackled the new task of breastfeeding, which was a group effort. You learning to latch, me learning to help you latch, Papa, Oma, the midwife, and postpartum doula providing unwavering insights and emotional support. In order for me to heal, I ate nourishing foods, drank lots of water, moved with postpartum grace and took in all the Clyde snuggles I could. Your Papa and I felt very supported by Oma, the midwife, the postpartum doula, and close friends. This was vital, because then we could make sure to focus the majority of our energy on you! We took the next 6 weeks to learning your cues and attempting to address your needs. We transitioned every week into more confident roles as you continued to grow. You have given us one of the most beautiful roles of our lives, parenthood. What a journey we have been on to get here and what beautiful horizons we have ahead of us, Love, Mama
Midwife: Jessica, Roots of Life
Midwife Assistand: Jennifer, Lionheart Midwifery
Photography: White Wave Photography
Are you thinking about documenting your birth story? I would love to chat with you. Get in touch with me today to learn more about Birth Stories by White Wave Photography.
The birth workers network in the small state of New Hampshire is a very small tight knit community. I learned this first hand last September when I was referred by a midwife that I had never met to photograph her clients home birth. Mary and I instantly hit it off at our first meeting to discuss what she envisioned of her birth. She shared with me that she wanted to capture the raw emotion of birth and the connection between she and her husband.
As a Birth Photographer in NH, this was to be my first home birth experience and I was so excited to have Mary as my client. She had such a calming presence and was so sweet to work with. On the morning of November 6th (almost 2 weeks after her due date), I got the call that I had been waiting for…Mary’s water had broken. Although she was having minor contractions, her husband went to work and I told her to keep me posted as the day went on. 12 hours later, I got the call to come.
Walking into a woman’s birth space is very special to me. Everyone labors differently and Mary was laboring beautifully in the birthing tub when I arrived. Her midwife, Beth, her doula and her husband Phil were all there supporting her through each contraction. It was powerful to watch. Mary spent the next few hours rocking, swaying and just trying to work that baby down…and then her contractions all but stopped. We all went to bed to get some rest and would regroup in the morning.
The morning light was beautiful and as the sun was coming up, Mary’s birth team all met over breakfast in her kitchen to discuss the plan to get this baby earth-side. We fed her, got her moving and tried the tub again. Her contractions were very sporadic and by 11:30am, everyone except Phil and Beth left to give her some space. Then the decision was made to transfer to Concord Hospital.
Mary had worked so hard to have the Home Birth of her dreams and I know that she felt disappointed but what happened next was purely magical in my opinion. I arrived at the hospital at 6pm on Tuesday, November 7th and witnessed a team of nurses and doctors who were so supportive of what Mary wanted and were willing to listen to Beth and help Mary have a Home Birth in a Hospital.
For the next 10 hours, Mary labored hard in the tub, rocking in the rocking chair and listening to her Hypnobirthing recordings on her iPod. Beth and Phil were there every step of the way supporting her in whatever she needed. Mary was able to listen to her body and in the final moments before delivery she stood leaning on her bed and just started pushing when her body told her to. The doctor was amazing and I remember her saying “well I have never delivered a baby like this before”. This is where the magical moments happened. The OB sat on the floor behind Mary and Beth, her midwife, talked the OB through how to “let gravity to the work”. I remember one moment when Beth took the doctor’s hand and just helped her to guide the baby’s head. Watching these women work as a team was AWESOME and a few minutes later, Mary amazed us all when she pushed for the final time and caught her own baby. Yes, I know women do this all the time but to see it happen in a hospital setting was beautiful and this is why I like to refer to this birth as a Home Birth in a Hospital. View the Birth Story of Quint and see the catch for yourself HERE.
Quint took almost 48 hours to come into the world but once he was ready, he came out fast and furious. Weighing in at 8lbs 4oz, he was such a chill baby from the start. The first couple hours of a baby’s life is so precious and as a Birth Photographer, being able to capture the first latch, all of the measurements and bonding time as a new family are truly precious and my absolute favorite part of the birth experience.
Thank you to Mary and Phil for choosing me to be their to capture their Birth Story and thank you to Beth Gaby for connecting us. It was an experience that I will never forget and reminds me that I truly have the best job in the world!
If you are expecting a baby or know someone who is, I would love to talk to you about documenting your Birth Story. Contact me today for a free consultation and sign up below to receive your FREE Client Guide.