A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

Birth: A Cause for Celebration

Whenever I have asked readers if they had a birth photographer at their birth I get a lot of responses such as “yes, we loved it,” or “no, we couldn’t afford it,” but there is one type of answer that sort of bothers me… “I had a hospital birth so there was nothing to photograph,” or “I delivered in a hospital so there was nothing to celebrate.”

My first son was delivered in a hospital and we did not hire a birth photographer, but my husband managed to get some pictures and we sure as hell celebrated. I didn’t know then a lot of what I know and believe now about birth. For example, I didn’t have the perspective until much later that I wasn’t given many choices along way, that someone else was calling the shots, that I was victim to several unnecessary and risky procedures, and that hospitals and birth in the US has become a business. I have chosen to not birth in a hospital with this pregnancy and that decision is based solely on that experience. However, we were excited to have our son and I will not let any of that take away from how we look at the day that Jack came into our lives.

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I’m afraid that the homebirth/natural childbirth movement is making women who deliver in hospitals feel like they are less of a birthing mother, that there is less to celebrate, that they can’t be proud of this life changing event. In my opinion the natural childbirth movement is supposed to be about choices. It’s supposed to be about informing women of all of their choices on where and how to deliver their babies. It’s supposed to expose women to information that many of us don’t or didn’t know about how birth has changed in our culture over the last century or so. It’s supposed to educate women on the power of their bodies. It supposed to empower women. It’s not supposed to say that there is one right way to do things or that if you choose to birth in a hospital that you are less or wrong.

Empowerment is in the ability to make an informed choice, not in the final decision itself. It’s about gathering all of the information, learning to ask questions, challenging the system, holding “authority” figures accountable, recognizing when someone is taking power away from you; then making a decision that is right for your individual situation, family and body. That is empowerment. Not homebirthing, not natural childbirth, not breastfeeding. Empowerment is information and freedom of choice.

Birth is cause for celebration. No matter where it takes place. No matter how it is done. Hospitals have policies about photography and that’s a whole different story, but birth is a time to celebrate. Celebrate the new life. Celebrate the new chapter in yours. Celebrate the most intense experience in human existence. And if you almost died then celebrate that you didn’t!

Clearly there are cases where women don’t get to choose. If you have health issues or other circumstances that don’t allow you to make many choices then that’s OK. Your birth is not less valuable or valid than anyone else’s. And there are times when celebration is not in order because of a terrible tragedy and all I can say is I am so sorry for your loss. I wouldn’t celebrate either. But this is not the majority of cases for women who are not treating birth like a celebration.

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Maybe at 38 weeks pregnant I’m just hormonal and naïve, but I want us to continue to inform each other, empower each other and share information that can help women make their own informed choices. I want to do all of that without taking anything away from women who didn’t know, who chose differently or who didn’t have a choice. It’s the birth of a frickin’ baby! Celebration needs to be top priority.

Abby Theuring, MSW

Comments

  1. Charlotte Orthober says

    Yeah my husband and I celebrated the birth of our son we didn’t have a professional photographer

    But we did have pictures taken by the nurses were very nice and they took pictures of us and our little guy too

  2. Farah Horigan says

    At the 3 different hospitals I delivered at they allowed my husband to take pictures as soon as the baby was born. I delivered by c section so with my last one I even got a pic of my uterus as the baby was coming out, which slightly grossed me out, but now I think is awesome. I have so many pictures of my babies the first few days in the hospital that I was able to chronological put them in order according to who came to visit us in their scrapbooks. I even keep my camera with me so I can capture the quite monents with just me and new baby when no one is there.

  3. Heather miller says

    My first daughter was born brain dead, but we had a lovely home birth to welcome her to our family. The brain death was unknown beforehand and unrelated to the birth situation. I wish I had pictures of the birth experience, but I have wonderful memories of an empowering birth. Virginia was rushed directly to a Children’s Hospital and the first pictures we have of her are hooked up to a ton of machines with a tube in her mouth. We donated her organs, and the nurses were kind enough to take pictures of her after the donation surgery. I cherish those photos. Although the tragic times may not be our favorite memories, they are worthy of rememberance as well. That is when we grow.
    Great article! We are expecting our second child in a few weeks, and our doula will be taking pictures for us.

    • catherine turbitt says

      Heather Miller what a beautiful selfless gift you gave, congratulations on your second and rainbow baby

  4. They were going to charge me $25 for ONE picture. Outrageous. I could take my own pictures for free!

    • But any pictures you take yourself wouldn’t be professional quality. That’s what you are paying for. I have a pretty fancy camera but I still pay a professional to photograph important moments.

      I had a completely empowering hospital birth. Didn’t want it photographed, but that’s just personal preference.

  5. Colleen Shoaf says

    What about the hospitals that don’t allow photography? That’s the situation I am in. Hospital policy does not allow any pictures or video until baby is out and cord is cut 🙁

    • catherine turbitt says

      Question the policy Colleen, challenge it, photos are of you so your consent is important not the hospitals.. another way of controlling how we birth

    • As a former labor and delivery nurse, the reason for hospitals not allowing photography has to do with the CYA (cover your a**) philosophy of most medical communities. They maintain it’s a liability. That’s crap! Most women just don’t know they can challenge most “policies” and win!

  6. Juliette says

    I didn’t want my pictures taken during birth. The whole experience lasted 48 hours and to be totally honest I’d rather forget about the birth (ended up with a ’emergency C-section’ and remember the days after when I finally got home. (I went into the hospital on Monday 8am and finally got to go home Friday 4pm) However, I did get some awesome pictures of my baby being weighed, measured and bathed for the first time 🙂

  7. We were going to have a birth photographer but ended up having a Cesarian. BUT one of the nurses took my camera (I’m a photographer) and took pictures in the OR. I was soooo thankful. I had never even heard of birth photography with my first so I don’t have any. But the second I have such cool and intimate pictures its wonderful!

  8. I felt the same about my birth experience, once I realized the absolute disregard for my own wishes! Like you, I’ve taken the initiative to reach out to others and hopefully make a difference in their birth experience! I’m posting a 10 week series about breast feeding starting Monday, too!

  9. Michelle says

    When I gave birth to my children, now 24 and almost 22, I was able to have their births videotaped. My daughter (24) was vaginal and my son (nearly 22) was by C-section (10-lb. footling breech who wouldn’t stay turned regardless of what I did. ) I treasure these videos! I took short videos and lots of stills during my daughter’s birth. I served as an informal doula for her. I am so glad to have these pictures/videos, including the “yucky” ones. I was impressed that the hospital (in Evanston, IL) was very good about allowing and even encouraging a number of things that I had to fight for when I gave birth. She was not pressured to accept any medications or procedures with the exception of the midwife recommending her water be broken, which she consented to. She had no other medical intervention until after delivery — not even an IV during the birth. She was allowed to use the hospital’s birthing ball and birthing tub. It was all quite a difference from my day — and it’s an experience I will NEVER forget. I wasn’t able to have natural births, despite badly wanting to and doing all I could to prepare. I was thrilled when my daughter educated and prepared herself and did it!

  10. Haven’t had one of my own, but my dad took pictures of my birth. Some of them we could have done without, but he was a picture taking fool lol. I’m sure if he could have gotten a shot of me in the uterus he would have. I still have that camera and it’s going to be taking pictures of me and my wife’s first child (Fingers crossed for sometime next year) and all the others if the camera lives that long.

  11. As a birth doula, I strive to help women have the birth experience that they want. This is a beautiful example of what I try to explain to expectant moms: it doesn’t matter where its done, or how its done, or if you asked for the drugs when you swore up and down that you wouldn’t. What matters is that you had this beautiful experience.

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