Whenever there is a shift in culture, there is always push back.
I'm sure you've heard someone say it, "a healthy mom and baby is what's important."
True. That is important. But how often do we use those words to only describe the physical health of mom and baby. Because so often those words are a distraction as to what's really going on beneath the surface. The emotional and mental health of mom and baby are equally as important but often overlooked.
Mom's body is healing "normally" for what a woman goes through during labor. But inside mom is suffering from debilitating postpartum depression. She can't even function or connect with her baby. She can hardly hold the one she wanted and dreamed of for so long because she is overwhelmed by the internal trauma of how she was treated during her labor.
From the outside she is "healthy". On the inside she is far from it.
That's why over and over again I will stand by the fact that a healthy mom and baby is important, certainly, but her experience also matters. She will carry her birth story with her for the rest of her life.
Baby is passing all the standard health tests and hitting his approved numbers. However, he can't express it but he is struggling for emotional connection and attachment after lengthy testing immediately following birth instead of being placed on the warm comforting skin of his mother's chest.
He can't communicate yet but his experience has an effect on him.
I'm grateful that photography has brought some much needed honesty and reverence to birth. It does not discount that there is real trauma that goes on too. In fact, when a woman has professional images from her birth experience it is often an excellent tool in helping her to process the trauma and to hold the tension of the pain alongside the beauty.
There is also much to be thankful for in the general care surrounding birth. Recently there has been a renewed awareness around the importance of treatment during labor and delivery as more women realize they have options and as more doctors and midwives understand the importance of letting labor progress naturally, allowing mother to labor and deliver in a variety of positions, listening to the mother's intuition about her body, fewer interventions, immediate skin to skin, delayed cord clamping, delayed testing just to name a few.
I hope to continue being a voice in this shift towards seeing birth as a journey that should be natural, beautiful and empowering. That's why my heart felt drawn to birth photography 8 years ago and that's why I'm still so passionate about it today.
Note: the mama in these photos had a beautifully supported home birth. She was surrounded with great care and attention from 3 midwives, her doula, her husband and her 4 other daughters.