Why I love birth photography
I have a huge passion to provide women with memories of what their incredible bodies are capable of. I am a Mum to 3. I loved watching my growing bump, and feel I have achieved something wonderful by carrying my babies, and bringing them into the world.
After the birth of my first 2 children not going completely to plan, I set out to be as an informed as possible, approaching my 3rd birth armed with information and research. I was also very keen to have it documented in photo form to replay the experience (memories do not serve me greatly post babies). This is where my dream of being a birth photographer began. You can read about my own birth story here: http://www.kellybond.com/2021/04/birth-and-babies-positive-birth-bucks-birth-photographer/
I am based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, and live around a 10 minute drive from Stoke Mandeville Hospital. I gave birth to all of my babies here, the first 2 on the labour ward, and the last in the birth centre, a water birth. Being located so close to the hospital is ideal for the sometimes speedy arrivals of babies, certainly the case for the birth I will be sharing in this blog series.
Choosing a birth photographer in Aylesbury, Bucks
The lovely Ayshah got in contact with me about photographing the birth of her 3rd baby. I more commonly photograph 2nd or 3rd time Mums for birth photography. Why? Because afterwards is when you realise what an incredible thing you have just done, and it isn’t until the next birth that you think about how you will remember this. So often, after seeing the images of their birth, Mum’s say ‘I wish I had known about you for my first birth’.
Being a Mum to 2 boys already, she wanted to remember this birth for what it is; amazing, powerful, an accomplishment. We met up for an informal chat first at her home in Aylesbury – very important – I want you to feel comfortable with me to have me present for such an intimate event. I knew Ayshah from a mutual friend, but we hadn’t worked together professionally before.
“When I first thought about having a birth photographer, I wasn’t sure….but after meeting Kelly to chat about birth and my story, I felt a lot more confident.
When in labour, its like being in a hazy dream so having another person in the room that knew me and knew what I wanted just gave me that extra peace of mind”Ayshah
Initially, we meet for an informal chat to just talk about your previous births, plans for this birth, and what I will do during your birth. Booking is the next stage, confirming when I’ll be on call from, what is included, and deposits paid. We can then meet again as often as you like in the lead up to the birth to just get to know each other a bit more.
I love talking about birth, pregnancy and babies! You can let me know preferences for what you would like captured, or let me just click away as the story unfolds.
Hospital birth – guidelines
Ayshah messaged me when she was in labour, and again when she was heading to hospital. My bag was packed (labour length can vary, so snacks and water are a must), so I just picked up my Nikon armed with 50mm f/1.8 – my fastest and smallest lens. As I plan to be unobtrusive, so must my camera be!
When in the hospital room, I ensure that I am out of the way from medical professionals. My job is to document the birth, and I have no active role in intervening in the physical side of the birth, unless we have discussed a doula role. A midwife or any doctor always have priority and I will always move elsewhere, or already be nestled away in a corner.
From my experience in hospitals though, all the midwives have always been lovely and accommodating. They appreciate that the labouring mother wants these images, and the midwives usually openly invite to make room for me.
Birth story – part one – labour
Ayshah was in the birthing centre at Stoke Mandeville and just getting ready to get into the pool. I said my hello’s, and settled into the background. When she got into the pool, she appeared much calmer.
“I did notice the first few clicks of the camera but after a while they just blended into the background”
A little while after being in the pool, Ayshah used some gas and air for a little extra help, but the physical touch of her husband, Gari, was very obviously a wonderful aid of support. He stayed by her side constantly, offering physical loving touch through holding hands and hugs. Touch from a birthing partner can be a positive and calming way to reduce pains in labour.
I was only in the room around 30mins, when the contractions intensified. The gas and air was helping to regulate her breathing and keep some focus, but I could see her confidence was wavering.
Our friendship had developed a lot during Ayshah’s pregnancy, and I was quite in tune with what was wanted from this birth from our regular chats. At times, my role transferred to a doula support, only when needed. We had discussed this previously.
“Kelly has such a calm presence and was able to know when to say some positive reminders and reassure me I could do it”
Birth story – part 2 – the birth
Ayshah’s second baby was a weighty 11lb 2oz, so we were all expecting a good sized weight for baby no.3. When her body was pushing, it was necessary for Ayshah to stand in the pool for the aid of gravity. The not so little baby boy was a little stuck with his shoulders and needed an extra hand from the midwife to guide him out.
The midwives of Stoke Mandeville Hospital really are exceptional. They helped Ayshah deliver a beautiful 11lb 3oz boy in the pool, following her birth plan. Ayshah remained in the pool for delayed cord clamping and had some gorgeous skin to skin time. Baby Cooper took a little while to pink up on the Apgar score, but it wasn’t long before he was exploring his lungs. Smiles all round!
I may have shed a few tears behind the camera… these moments are so incredibly precious. Even just looking back at these birth photography images from this 2017 birth, it makes me keen for another! It floods back all the memories of that day; the anticipation in the room, the tangible moments witnessed during a height of a contraction, the love seen and felt seeing parents holding the baby in their arms.
“Having photos of the birth of Cooper is something I’m so grateful for. Its so easy to forget these phenomenal moments”
Birth story – part 3 – after the birth
The placenta was being a little stubborn after a while in the pool having cuddles. As the cord had finished pulsing and providing the baby with extra blood from the placenta, the cord was cut so that Ayshah could get out of the pool to deliver the placenta.
Delayed cord clamping is advised with most babies and has big benefits to the baby.
“Deferred cord clamping allows extra blood to be transferred from the placenta, increasing the amount of iron transferred to your baby. Iron is essential for brain development and infants with better iron levels seem to do better on tests of neurodevelopment later in childhood.
DCC (delayed cord clamping) makes babies more stable after birth. If the cord is clamped immediately, there is a sudden drop in blood pressure due to the movement of blood into the lungs when the baby takes their first breaths. DCC allows extra blood from the placenta to replace the blood, keeping the blood pressure more stable.“NHS website
I personally find the cord and placenta amazing! This organ connects baby and Mum for 9 months, providing the baby everything it needed to grow and develop, ready to be welcomed into the world.
Seeing these parents bring another beautiful baby boy into the world was my absolute privilege. The connection in their relationship is intimate, knowing, understanding and welcoming. It is the image of love. Gari was right by her side the whole time. A husband’s role during labour is not to be on the sidelines, but right in it with his wife.
In the words of Jess Urlichs:
Thank you for standing by me
watching what I’ve gone through.
I forget sometimes through teary eyes
that you’ve had to go through it too.
The labor and the birth
while that pain was mine.
Your hand was never far away
Your eyes never so wide.
Last words of testimony from Ayshah:
“Having Kelly at the birth was so special to us, having a familiar and calming support of someone who loves and appreciates birth as well as knowing she will capture moments that are so sacred. The birth of a baby changes you, and to have that captured is incredibly special”
The next in this birth series is a super speedy home birth. I’m looking forward to sharing with you.