Decades ago, birth was considered a private affair. The only people allowed in a delivery room were the mom and medical staff. Over time it has became normal for dads to be in the room as well to support their partners and witness the birth of their babies, and today, it's no longer extraordinary to see grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends of the birthing mom in the room as well. But a pro photographer?
Yes, new parents are increasingly hiring professional birth photographers to record their babies' births. There's also a backlash against all this openness, with hospitals like Maryland's Meritus Medical Center banning parents from taking pictures or videos during a birth. The reason given: doctors and midwives want to keep the focus on the health and safety of the mom and newborn.
While the ban sounds sensible, it's in conflict with another clear trend: our growing love affair with capturing every important moment of a child’s life and with sharing those moments on Facebook or elsewhere.
Here, Circle of Moms members on both sides of this debate weigh in on whether a photographer really belongs in the labor and delivery room.
Pros: Birth Photos are an Amazing Momento
Moms who'd hire a photographer or videographer to be in the delivery room are passionate about the gift of beautiful photos chronicling their newborn's entrances. Here's why:
1. It's the Only Way to Guarantee Quality Photos
Karen H. says it's important to have an uninvolved third party on the scene to document the event because you and your partner will want and need to focus on the birth and on its emotional drama, not on taking good pictures. Of the images taken by a friend for her during her own delivery, she says, "I'm really glad to have them."
In addition to staying focused on taking pictures, professional photographers also know how to tell the story without exposing what's too personal, says a mom named Kelly. Karen agrees, offering that her friend "did a great job and kept [the shots] all pretty modest for me. You can't see any of my ‘bits and pieces’ so I'm able to show them to people if I choose to."
Kelly points out that a pro will also take better pictures, working to get proper lighting in a delivery rooms so that "everyone doesn't come out pasty white, or completely obliterated by the flash reflecting off the many shiny surfaces found in the room."
2. Without Pictures I'll Never Know Exactly What Happened
Ania S. regrets not hiring a videographer to document her first baby’s birth: "I feel like I don't remember anything [from] after the baby came out, they didn't even put him on my stomach." She’s planning to hire a photographer for the upcoming birth of her second child, beacuse, as she puts it, "I want to see what I look like with this pain on my face and the moment the baby is born. Of course, nothing graphic, just the right angles."
Emily S. had a similar experience when her first child was premature."Everything was an emergency and rushed. I also didn't get to have her on my stomach after or anything," she says. When Emily's second child arrived prematurely, they were ready: "This time we had the camera there and ready. Talk to the staff and let them know what you will be comfortable with. If they accidentally get something too graphic for you, that's what the delete button is for."
3. Great Pictures Will Help Me Feel the Day's Amazing Emotions Again
Katie N. wishes she had hired a professional photographer so that she could see the emotions she went through during the process. "I wish that we had filmed the births of my sons," she says. "At the time it seemed creepy to me, but in retrospect, I wish that I had a video of it. Even the gory stuff. Both of my deliveries were such empowering experiences [that] it would be nice to have a video to go along with my memories."
Hailey N., who recently had a professional photographer at her child’s birth, believes that professional photos and videos can best capture the raw emotions of the birth. "Contrary to popular belief, the photos you receive aren't ‘scientific’ shots, but to photograph the emotion, the love and the intimacy of such a momentous occasion."
Cons: Why Cameras Don't Belong at Births
Just as some moms are passionate about the idea of birth images, others think it's a qestionable choice. Here are their reasons.
1. You Could Regret Having a Stranger in the Delivery Room
Peggy B. warns that not all births are simple and beautiful, and that if you've never gone through labor before it's impossibe to know how having a stranger in the room while your labor will make you feel, especially if something goes wrong. "If you're having your first baby, you might want to wait. At this point, you really don't know what the whole experience is like. Do you really want a stranger around when you're so vulnerable? And a birthing mother is."
She also reminds moms to make sure their partners really want a stranger with a camera clicking away during what might feel like an intensely private experience. "If this is your second birth, then you just need to consult with the baby's father and see if he's comfortable with this."
2. Photographers Distract
Several moms point out that the presence of a camera, whether it's being operated by a new dad or just clicking away in the background, distracts from the experience. Cathy, who had a home birth, says there's no way she'd allow a picture during birth: "I . . . would of clouted anyone who tried to take a photo of that magical moment."
Mary N. agrees that parents need to be truly present, especially for the first minutes of life: "People get so obsessed with 'capturing the moment' on film, that they miss out on the moment itself. Fathers get so caught up in getting the perfect shot that instead of fully feeling and experiencing the miracle of their child's arrival, they are standing back and looking in through a digital viewfinder instead of kissing their wife and caressing their newborn's cheek."
And Cathy feels that a mother's memories come from the heart and not from a photo: "I don't personally need photos to remember the joyous moment [when] the pain finally stopped."
Finally, many members recoil at the idea of capturing and sharing birth's most graphic details – especially at the idea that a camera would be trained between their legs to capture the emergence of their baby’s head. As Caitlin A. says, "I didn't want any photos of the baby coming out, don't need that," and she’s not interested in seeing other moms’ birth photos either: “I personally don't care whether other parents choose to capture the whole moment or not, as long as they don't show me pictures or videos of it."
Amy K. also believes in keeping the intimate details of the birth private: "I ... wouldn't want even my mother to take pictures of that, but that's me. The blood, the accidental poo, the ugly face of me in pain... no thanks. I've burned that from my memory on purpose. I just want [pictures of] the new little one."
Would you, or have you, hired a professional birth photographer?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.