Snap Happy

I’ve recently had an amazing 2nd year student working with me on labour ward for a few weeks.  She reminds me so much of how I was at that stage in my training; excited, eager to learn , pro normality, interested in natural birth I have to say I’m going to really really miss her.  She was so great with the women and their partners and she taught me a lot too about my practice.  And she was a brilliant photographer.

I’m sure she would admit it was just luck or the type of camera but at many of the births we attended together she captured some amazing photos of the moment a new person was being born.  I have to say this pleased me immensely as I LOVE birth photos.  I’m always that midwife grabbing the camera and clicking away as the new parents wipe away their tears and look shocked adoringly at their new baby.

So today when I saw this article on the Daily Mail’s website it got me thinking.   Would you pay for a photographer to attend your birth?  You pay for a photographer to take pictures on you wedding day, so why not your birth?

I didn’t have a photographer at my birth well ok I had my husband who isn’t a professional photographer but he does take a mean photo (bit of Instagram and some nice 1970’s filter works wonders).

See, you can’t even see how tired I was

After my first daughter was born I was a little bit disappointed at the lack of photos we had of the labour/birth.  I think looking back we were just so overwhelmed with it all, (I say we, I mean me) that I kind of wish someone had taken more.  The birth becomes a bit of a blur but it would have been nice to look back at them and remember the hazy parts.

So when I was pregnant with my second daughter I made sure of one thing, Photos!  I wanted my husband to take loads of photos throughout the labour and birth.  I didn’t want to be aware of him taking them either.  But you know what, afterwards when we were back at home it was so special looking through them; it filled in the hazy gaps when the gas and air had kicked in.  I’ve managed to collect a few photos I took at the birth of these babies, and their parents have kindly given me permission to use them in this blog.  Feel free to add your own birth photos, they don’t have to be taken by a professional photographer, an amateur husband with a shaky hand will do.

Baby Harris

Baby Marni

Baby Art

Baby Jake

Baby Edith

Baby William

Baby Edith

Baby Eva

Baby Thisbe

21 thoughts on “Snap Happy

  1. Let me tell you about my student midwifery journey…

    I began my training in september 2010, i was pretty much clueless then to be honest, i didn’t even know midwives worked anywhere else other than labour ward and had no clue community midwifery even existed! I began my 1st year with 2 community placements, i felt very shy and out of my depth and never felt like i was being ‘taught’ just ‘observing’. Those placements came and went and soon i was on labour ward. i was so excited but after six weeks of emergency sections and ventouses i was beginning to lose the will to live. I then delivered my first baby which ended up with a ‘retained’ placenta and five litre PPH after the doctor snapped the cord. This happened at 8pm and she was rushed to theatre and i was told to leave, there was nothing i could do then. It was here my attitude to midwifery changed and i reflected upon that birth. WHY was the doctor pulling the cord in the first place? it’d been 25 minutes since birth and the doctor just wanted it out. If it had been left and the woman could just feed her baby it probably would have come out on its own.

    I had witnessed a lot of sections that had occurred because the syntocinon we had given for ‘failure to progress’ had led to fatal distress and thank god we were able to intervene with a section to save your baby! one intervention led to another and another and i began to think that normal birth didn’t exist! Finally after 8 weeks on labour ward i saw a normal birth and the cord was immediately clamped and cut and baby handed to mum. And every birth i saw from then on was clamp, cut and hand to mum. I began to really enjoy labour ward and feel more and more confident with every woman. I still didn’t really know how to deliver a baby but i could talk to the women and felt very confident when the midwife left the room and i was able to be myself around the family rather than what i felt the midwife wanted me to do. Unfortunately my placement ended and i had to go to to elsewhere. A few months later another labour ward placement came up and i was excited once more. It was definitely the place for me. i kept thinking after every birth ‘that was so lovely but i would definitely have offered the ball, the pool, the birthing stool etc etc’ and i started to realise that i wanted birth to be different, i wanted it to be normal.

    1st year came and went and finally i was a 2nd year. I completed my gynae and theatre placements and labour ward came round again. I saw my mentor was Clemmie and had heard great things about her so i was very excited. I remember our first woman together, she was a multip and contracting around 1 in 10 minutes. she didn’t seem to be uncomfortable and was coping extremely well. we were wondering whether she had progress at all until her husband arrived and she said ‘i feel like i need to push’, Clemmie said ‘ok go with what your body is saying’ and i thought FINALLY! someone who supports the woman’s urges, i can’t tell you how many times i’ve heard ‘no you’re only 4cm, if you push you’ll swell the cervix. make sure you stop pushing’ or ‘would you like an epidural to stop the urges?’ and then a baby is born and ‘oh you were fully!’. And then the woman had a physiological third stage. The first i had ever seen.

    There was a pattern emerging with the births we’d do together, darkened room, calm atmosphere, water, aromatherapy, gas and air, normal birth and physiological third stage. I didn’t see a single ventouse or forceps delivery with you (We did have one section- a much needed one) but other than that it was lovely, i realised what midwife i’d like to be. And since working with you i’ve realised what being a midwife means: being calm, supportive and kind. I’ve also realised how kind people can be- leaving cards and presents and flowers for me and i’ve realised i must have made a difference to the women’s experience. and i have you to thank for that so thank you very much clemmie


    • Hang on while I just mop the stream of tears from my cheeks.
      You’re too lovely Polly and I’m so sad we’re not together again for ages. Thanks for the lovely comments x

      • It took me a while to wipe away the tears from your comment! I miss working with you on labour ward so much, i will never forget everything you’d taught me and you’ve definitely made me a better midwife! can’t wait to come back. xx

  2. If I had the budget, I would pay for a photographer to take photos of every single occasion, I am photo-obsessed. I would love a photographer at the birth of one of my children. I wish I had more of Arlo’s birth, specfically the moments just after he was born – I didn’t even realise you could ask the midwife to take photos! Have you ever had a photographer attend a birth?

    • I though you might like this post! I’ve never had a professional photographer attend a birth but I’ve had a sister/mother/doula be in charge solely taking photos throughout especially as the baby is born. Next time make sure someone takes them, you never have that moment again.

  3. Some great photos that really capture that bizarre/euphoric/thank-fuck-that’s-over moment post-birth. Makes me feel teary and, dare I say it, a little bit broody.

  4. hi love, i thought of you the other day because i was on labour ward with oakwood doing a lovely birth with an amazing couple and he was a photographer who showed me a few photos of the early stages of labour. The photos were lovely but as she progressed the camera just got forgotten about and i remembered everything you’d written here and since she was doing fine and there were 2 midwives and me (next week i’ll be a third year so i’ll say two-thirds of a midwife) i took some birth photos for her and because the camera was so fancy they looked amazing! and i passed the baby to her and let them hold the baby together i got one of them both looking at the baby and smiling (i tried to avoid the huge puddle of mec II beneath them…) but it was very lovely. i saw them in the community and they were so grateful for the photos. I’m seeing them on wednesday so i’ll ask if they mind emailing me a couple of the photographs.


  5. Pingback: An Open Letter To Kate Middleton | Gas And Air

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