How to have a photography friendly birth plan
I love birth and everything about it, but we have all seen those pinterest worthy photos that make us just want to be pregnant and in labor forever JUST to have our photo captured JUST LIKE THAT!!!! I can promise you one thing when it comes to labor and birth: there are no promises when it comes to labor or birth.
However, you CAN do some things ahead of time that will give me as your birth photographer as much opportunity to capture beautiful images every step of the way. That is what this post aims to give you the tools for.
This list won’t be all-inclusive because I am not omniscient and I don’t know EVERY potential scenario, but I definitely hope you can come away from this list with some helpful things to do whether you are several months out or just a few weeks away from your due date. Make sure your caregiver is ok with a photographer. I cannot speak on your behalf to your healthcare provider and if they kick me out of the birthing room, I have to leave. Be sure and let them know you have retained my services and you want me there. I will do my part to demonstrate a respectful presence in the birthing suite so they know they have nothing to worry about.
TALK TO YOUR PROVIDER ABOUT BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHY. This will help them be aware that you plan to have photos, but also gives you the chance to discuss any policies that may interfere with me doing my job. For example, if you want crowning shots, especially if you are giving birth in a hospital (where there may be more people/ “regulations” that could interfere) talk to your provider. The more pre-labor prep you have for this aspect of your birth, the better set up you will be to have amazing images of your birth. The last thing you need is to be arguing with your provider while you are pushing a baby out about them trying to tell me not to capture certain things, or worse, kicking me out of the birthing room until after baby is born! Another important scenario where this comes into play is C-Sections and O.R. rules.
TALK TO ME ABOUT YOUR DESIRES. This actually ties for number 1 most important thing to do. I am an experienced photographer and I generally have an idea what rules will come into play in different birth environments. So I can usually give you some recommendations on how to approach a discussion with your provider. I can also give you a fair expectation of what results I can produce in your labor environment based on previous experience. And since I will be the one creating your images, it is very helpful for me to have a clear understanding of your birth photography desires.
PLAN AHEAD FOR LIGHT. If you are not a photographer, I don’t expect you to know what a photographer will have to do in different lighting scenarios, but do think about how much light you may want for your labor environment. I do have the skills to manage any lighting scenario you end up needing for your birth, but it can be so helpful to know beforehand if my client is ok with me opening the blinds a smidge to capture incoming sunlight in their images. I also may need to use a flash to bring in a little extra light for darker rooms, so I like to discuss that ahead of time with my clients and let them have a chance to consider whether this will be a problem for them or not. One option for managing lighting could be bringing your own light source to have set up in the room. I have seen many beautiful birth images with Christmas lights hanging on the walls. They are dim, which can be nice for a primal laboring mother, but they provide a beautiful light source and backdrop in an otherwise dark room, which can be really helpful for your images. Truthfully, in labor, the things you thought were true before you gave birth may be completely untrue the day you give birth. That is ok. It is just helpful to think ahead and try to plan anyway.
HAVE CUTE CLOTHING OPTIONS. Hey, you may want to labor completely nude, and if this happens, you should be supported in this! But this post is about prep, and you most likely won’t know until you are in labor whether you will want to be nude or not. So, prep ahead with beautiful options. Pack your birth bag with a few cute AND COMFORTABLE bras or bralettes that will work for nursing (make sure they aren’t see-through if they get wet if that is a concern for you). You might also like a bathing suit cover that can easily tie or untie around your waist and provides a little modesty for your bum if you need to squat while you labor. One other wardrobe suggestion is a kimono of some sort in case you need help staying warm. If you are in labor in a hospital, do you want their blankets to be in your photos as the primary thing keeping you warm?
HAVE YOUR PARTNER PACK A PLAIN SHIRT OR TWO FOR LABOR DAY. This may sound strange, but the day of labor could be the day your partner decides to wear their favorite shirt with the word BASS on it, but baby’s head is covering the B while they hold them after the birth… I am totally fine with pointing out a concerning shirt choice to help make your photos better!
PLAN CUTE CLOTHES FOR BABY. This can be as simple as a cute baby beanie… some small online shops offer matching hats and blankies. You can go with a cute onsie, really your creativity is the limit here, but just have it ready to go so you can have those first moments captured the way you want them. Simple is definitely best, but think of what will bring a smile to your face when you look back at your birth images!
GUIDELINES FOR THE BIG DAY AND HAVING ME COME
Text me any time and invite me to your special events. I am a mother too. I have given birth, and I know how important it is that your birth team feel like people you know and trust. I want as much facetime with you as I can get so we can build that connection. It will really help me in my storytelling for your birth.
When you go into labor- PLEASE MAKE MY PHONE RING. I may not hear a text (especially if it is the middle of the night). You will have a special ringtone though, so make it sing!
Don’t worry about me- just give birth. I say this because I have had clients who felt bad that I have had to leave, or sleep in some strange place during their labor. I don’t want you to feel bad, this is the job I signed up for and you know what? I LOVE IT. It’s not always easy, but nothing worth doing ever is 100% of the time. I am honored to be part of your day in whatever way you want and need me to be, so don’t second guess one second of what that ends up looking like for your story.
Do the cord cutting SLOWLY- Have your labor partner make sure I have access to shoot this part and they can even do a fake cut before actually cutting the cord so that you have that insurance that I for sure captured the cord cutting. Sometimes, everyone is so excited and moving so quickly that they forget to give me enough space to see, and that is one shot that it is VERY tricky to dance around people politely and capture the hands for if no one is trying to make sure I have that space!
Ask about a payment plan if you need one. For important things, we find a way. Most people make payments on cars, their phones, their homes…. The things that matter may be a significant investment, but we make a way. Birth photography is important, and if you didn’t think so, you wouldn’t be calling me. I can tell you my birth photos are some of my greatest treasures. So let’s make a way for you to have yours too.
Your ordering session will take place within 2 weeks of your session date in your home. It should take about an hour. In it we will look at your birth story images together and determine what prints or albums you will want from your birth story.
In the end, I would be remiss if I did not remind you that birth has a will of its own and no plan can ever be guaranteed to be honored, but having a plan is better than not having one in my personal opinion. When it comes to birth, we simply control what we can and do our best with the rest. Love to you amazing birthing mama! YOU. ARE. EVERYTHING!