What Makes a Birth Photographer?

Today I want to write to you about Birth Photographers. 

A little-known fact about the people who capture birth is that they are not photographers alone. Documenting the moment a woman meets her baby for the first time changes you as a person, whether you allow yourself to fall into it, to become transformed, or whether you don't realize it and suddenly awaken to realize you are a different version of you. Either way, the change that happens to a photographer when they witness women birth their babies is inevitable. 

When a person commits to being on-call for many weeks, waking up multiple nights in a row due to false alarms, sitting with her through the throws of labor, watching the miracle of life be born to her and of her, whether doctor, midwife, nurse, doula or photographer, it simply is impossible to go back to regularly scheduled life as if nothing had transpired and as if you were unaffected. 

Birth affects all those who witness it in various ways.

When your job's entire focus is to observe as much of the process of birth as possible.

For you to capture as much of a mother's emotions during this process, as much of the connections and relationships between mom and everyone part of this day, as much of this transformational process as a possible, because by craft you are a birth documentarian, a meeting stories artist... Then, none of the details of the day escape you, you cannot ignore and avoid them because they are YOU, as they transform from living art into your documented art, and you are forever changed by birth. 

You become connected to many women through time by the universal path every human being takes to arrive into life, called birth. 

Your presence at births is a never-ending sisterhood that is connected like a tree with its roots spread across the entire globe. 

You become connected to those who are giving birth, to their partners who are experiencing this with them, their providers delivering their children, their older children eagerly coming to meet their baby sibling. You become part of an unwritten family that goes to the ends of this earth and never dissipates. And being united in this day as a historian and documentarian of birth through the spirit of art, you are never forgotten or discarded, despite your silence and uninvolved presence, in a unique way, you are part of the stories of families that affect this world. 


Unlike family photography and studio portraiture work, you cannot know exactly how your birth will unravel, what day it will happen on, how long it will last and even at the end of the day how your baby will be born. Even with a planned c-section birth, there is not always a 100% guarantee what day you will meet your baby.


It’s impossible to plan birth. Even with a wedding that has been planned for an entire year, somethings always don’t end up according to plan, and your wedding is on an hour by hour schedule. With birth, you just don’t know what to expect. As much as you plan and prepare for it, it is not sheer willpower and a calm and certain mind alone that determines how your birth will go, you're also at the mercy of your body, your uterus, and your baby.


It is important for a woman to prepare for her birth by take birthing classes to educate herself on the physiological aspects of birth, (to be aware of what your body is doing during this intricate process that belongs to you and your body), and don't forget about the mind: a woman should prepare herself psychologically for an experience of her life that will with certainly transform her.


This is a very valid point "it’s important to honor hospital policies," I cannot agree enough with that statement! 

We don’t want to bring into our hospitals people who will be disrespectful and disruptful. Labor and delivery is a place that is safe and sterile any persons who cannot honor that would be counterproductive to that. 


Isn't the ultimate goal of birth is to unite a healthy mother with her healthy baby as quickly after birth as possible? (unlike the past decades when babies were sent away for hours to the nursery)

And doesn't the act of this "golden hour" of bonding time between mom and baby not hurt the mother nor put her baby’s life in danger and is implemented for the sake of an emotional bond with baby, more successful breastfeeding, steadying baby's temperature, heart beat and for the sake of psychological well being?

Similarly, a woman can have the fleeting moment, the moment she lays eyes on her baby's face for the very first time ever and touches her baby for the first time, the baby she has carried in her womb for the last 9 months, documented by a professional who has a code of ethics, with a clinical knowledge of birth and has a deep respect for medical personnel to never get in the way of a nurse, anesthesiologist, midwife, obstetrician or any other medical person. With a track record of listening to medical staff, standing where they are out of the way, not touching anything sterile. 


Besides a birthing woman's partner, there is the clear hesitation of letting another family member into the operating room with a camera to take pictures -- this is a sterile environment and that person might disrupt that, or worse, they might faint at the sight of surgery. There is even the hesitation of allowing entrance to the operating room a photographer who has never attended nor witnessed even a vaginal delivery before. 


Everyone is aware of post partum blues and post partum depression. ACOG even lists that cesarean birth may cause more fatigue or longer states of fatigue over vaginal delivery and lists fatigue as one of the leading causes of postpartum depression 

“Many women feel very tired after giving birth. It can take weeks for a woman to regain her normal strength and energy. For women who have had their babies by cesarean birth, it may take even longer.” 

And everyone from doctors to websites offer solutions from how to diagnose ppd or how to medicate ppd but it is not nearly as often discussed how to strive to prevent ppd from ever even arising.

ACOG also lists changes in hormones as a leading cause of depression: 

“Changes in hormone levels—Levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease sharply in the hours after childbirth. These changes may trigger depression in the same way that smaller changes in hormone levels trigger mood swings and tension before menstrual periods.” 

But did you know that gentle cesarean, which includes skin to skin, a clear drape for mom to see the baby’s face instantly as they are delivered (without seeing the surgical incision), longer periods of mom-baby bonding during the first “golden hour” and that all these aspects can contribute to a release of “happy hormones” called endorphins? And that unlike adrenaline and other hormones, these endorphins can contribute to mom being less likely to experience post partum depression 

>>> source <<< 


Honestly, it is a good and valid question, a lot of people don't get it, so let's ask it:

Why is it necessary for women to have their birth photographed?


I can tell you it isn't glamour and fame. A woman who hires a birth photographer isn't concerned with glamour or fame and in fact, understands that she will likely not look her best in the photographs from her birth story. 

Sure, in preparation, she may put on mascara, or waterproof foundation, but haven’t you ever had a challenging day where are you feel a bit of confidence and courage when you took a moment to feel your very best, despite everything else being challenging and uncertain? 


In this day and age of many people putting countless of the most minute and intimate details of their days, you might think Facebook or Instagram has something to do with birth photography. 

Don't get me wrong -- I am grateful that I have access to social media. I believe the topics of pregnancy, labor, birth, and post partum are not talked about nearly enough among women who are going to be stepping into this chapter of their life in the next decade, so I love having the ability to share stories from the clients of mine who have given me permission to share their photos and talk about various pregnancy and motherhood topics. But social media is not even on the table with half of my clients. They want privacy and that is my priority. They know they can trust me. 


It may be just 1 day but it is not just A day. 

It is not just ANY day. 

This isn't like going in for an endoscopy or a cavity filling. 


A life YOU created, grew, nurtured, supported, spoke to, felt moving in your belly for 9 months. A life you prepared for, for 9 months. He or she has a little room waiting for them back at your home. A bassinet. Newborn diapers, and that one special outfit. 

You're about to take a lifetime of photos and videos of this little person. 

And this is the moment you meet them. 

But it also so much more. 

You're not pregnant every year of your life, and even with large families, your years of carrying babies in your womb are limited. 

And how many times is your body and your mind physically in this in-between world where you are neither pregnant nor not pregnant, when your baby is in the birth canal, entering this world. 

How many times in your life do you literally need to summon the amount of courage, raw feminine energy and power to bring your baby earthside? The level of vulnerability and sheer power that balance on this day are not repeated in any other days of your life. There isn't another day of your life where your emotions are entirely beyond your control, and your guard are let down because meeting your child for the first time in your life only happens this once. 

I cannot speak for every single birth photographer on this planet because every woman experiences birth differently, and many birth photographers are women who have experienced their own childbirths and that contributes in a large portion to the passion they put forth in the photographs they captures for their birth photography clients.


Some birth photographers had positive birth experiences that inspired them to educate or to give the gift of having these memories preserved for other mothers.


Other Birth Photographer’s have had emotionally traumatic experiences which inspired them to seek out and educate about choosing better providers, better prenatal preparation and education, better postpartum support and that is the driving force behind their work.


And even other Birth Photographer’s are so swept off their feet by the beauty and raw power of women who give birth to babies and that is the driving force behind their work.

Every birth photographer comes into this profession from a different life journey, a different inspiration, a different calling. 


When my first born daughter was around 9 months old and I finally worked up the courage to look at the pictures my husband took on a cheap camera the day that she was born, I was sad because my husband wasn’t in any of the moments that really mattered to me, or in barely any photos at all. Because he took them and he isn't a photographer, and more importantly, my husband isn't a documentarian nor a woman who desperately wants to preserve the moment of birth.  

When the day passes by with the glimpse of the eye, families that hire me will be able to remember what it felt like walking into the hospital, preparing for baby to be born, walking down a hallway, having the strings of a labor down tied, having their husband or partner kiss their head the moment tears were streaming down mom's face, they felt a call to support, the very first cry baby lets out when their voice is so fresh and it will never sound the same ever again, the look in your partners eyes the very first time they become a parent— that look never happens again in their life time. 


These are the moments I strive to capture for my clients. Because this is a story of courage, of preparation, a moment they prayed and waited for, for months, some families for years and years after failed rounds of IUI and IVF, the loss that is brought with miscarriage, for some families even stillbirths that they remember to this day. But above all, this is a story of love. 

It's Not Just about Photographs for me

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A few days ago I received a phone call from an expecting mama.

It is her first baby and she’s due in 5 months, and I’m so excited for her.

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Although meeting people virtually and not in person is not as common for me, (while I do travel for birth each year, most of my clients are local), I am a little old school in that

I like to sit down with my couples over a cup of coffee, tea or a smoothie and learn about them

but this mom lives very far from me (further than my typical client) so we agreed to do a Facetime contract signing instead of getting together in person.

This morning we met for the first time over Facetime. As soon as I introduced myself and said hello, I wanted to know more about dad.


It is my opinion that in today’s day and age there are a lot of different aspects of pregnancy, labor, birth and post partum that are a long lost art. One of them being, we don’t nurture a connection with all three parties (the birthing person, their partner/spouse and baby). If we are doing it right, we try to nurture mom & baby relationships, but

mom’s partner/spouse immediately has to go back to work (most of the United States offers no paternal leave from work) and there are also not as many couples going to every prenatal visit together, birthing classes together, meeting the midwife together, the labor doula, doing the hospital tour together, etc.

In other words, there’s a bit of a disconnect.

My business is very intimate to me. Because your birth story is very intimate to you, so I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Because of my philosophy of my work in the birth world, to me it is imperative that I meet with all the parents, not just the birthing person.

A big part of this is definitely about the birthing day… the last thing I want is to walk into the delivery room the day you are giving birth (or to the birth center or your home) and find your partner or spouse with their guard up, because a non-medical stranger they’ve never met before is “watching”

As photographers, as DOCUMENTARIANS of birth, we are always “watching”


And if you haven’t had the chance to meet me, to learn why I do this for a living, and how committed I am to my families, it is easy for me to understand why a partner or a spouse would have their guard up with me in the delivery room.

The purpose behind me documenting this incredible moment for you both is so that you can specially let your guard down, be present and enjoy this moment.

I don’t want anyone to feel like they have to guard their emotions, their attention, to watch whether I am being intrusive, to be protective over their birthing partner, that is not at all the type of environment I want to cater to during labor and birth.

So going back to this morning, when I asked dad if he has had the chance to see any of my work (my birth photography, my birth videos) and what really spoke to him, so that I could learn what is important not only to the expecting mom but to her husband, he told me right away he had not seen any of my work yet.

Which means only mom has seen and fallen in love with my work.

While sometimes that can be enough, and all a couple needs as a motivator to invest in my work, because in this case, the mom’s husband trusts her judgement in making this decision of investing in something she really finds value in, a majority of the time, I need for the partner/spouse to let their guard down and meet me.

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I spent a part of this morning contemplating how many photographers in America are saying they are ok with it if partner/spouse doesn't see their work or meet them beforehand the day mom goes into labor.

One thing I have noticed about the location I serve (south Florida) is that

“burn-out” is high among photographers who are offering birth photography services..

Many of the photographers I revered for their birth photography 4-5 years ago no longer offer it because many of them did indeed burned out or lost their spark for it.

I also do find it common that there isn't as much gratitude in the "birth-photography" world as their is for labor doulas and midwives and OBs. I have personally noticed several times when a labor doula supports a mom for 12 to 24 hours of intense labor filled with hard work on mom’s part and many emotions, a deep bond is created and it is hard to break and it is on-going for months and years well after baby has been born. Similar with midwives and OBs who are supportive of their patients through 9 months of pregnancy, labor, delivery and post partum visits, moms develop a sort of revered bond with their provider.

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But I do find that in the birth photography world, it is often a text saying "we love the photos" and that's where the relationship often ends for many photographers & their clients down here in south Florida (unless mom gets pregnant again down the road and reaches out). With this being said, I don’t want to down-play birth clients of mine who our relationships have continued with well after birth. I have the amazing honor (that makes me want to sing, dance and cry all at the same time!) of becoming a godmother to one of my birth client’s babies this coming June (he was born last year), two of my clients who gave birth last summer are some of my dearest friends. One of my home birth transfers to my favorite hospital in Boca is also one of my closest friends to this day. All of this because I really really care about my families and I care about what is happening in their lives well after they give birth. But I do work with 2 to 3 families giving birth each month (which translates to anywhere from 24 to 36 birth clients each year — I only photograph birth, no other genres of photography), so not every couple stays in touch with me even though I want to; some move out of state, some go back to a high demanding job, others really only hired me for photography, and so there definitely are families who even gave birth in the last three months who don’t keep in touch with me.

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South Florida is a pretty transitional area, most people living here are not natives and many couples do leave the state within a few years of living here for better career opportunities or to return to home. Some of my birthing couples don’t even live in Florida and are flying in only for a few months to give birth here (yes we have that amazing of providers and hospitals to warrant such a trip!)

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So the way I personally find fulfillment in my own business is by getting to know my families really well prior to birth, to understand what their story is and what having this birth story that I am going to capture means to them.

On a personal level, even looking back to before I was a mom, I was never passionately driven (or motivated) to love a career when it was superficial (about business and earning money). There always had to be a driving factor that made me passionate to work!

And I do think that on a very personal and intimate level for me alone, I need my families to 'get me' and why I do this for a living if they want to work with me, because my career is born of my own birth traumas.

I experienced two emotionally traumatic births with both of my daughters (and my second birth was way more traumatic than the first)

and so in a way, I think if at least part of my families didn't see how passionate I am for birth education, birth advocacy, women's rights, and helping my clients find the right providers for them so that they feel supported, and if my birth clients were solely hiring me for a service, I would burn out quickly. I don't know if I could repeatedly for many births arrive at the hospital, photograph, leave, deliver photos and move onto the next client. But that is a very personal and intimate approach to my business only, and it is why every month and every year, I have a continually growing passion and love for my work and I do not feel burned out after nearly 5 years of 12 months a year commitment to my craft and the families I work with.

❤  Paulina

The Flash Debate: Behind the Scenes of Birth Photography

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The transition to using an external flash during births was a very difficult one for me to make. After four and a half years of photographing births (and nearly 100 births photographed over this time) without  using an external flash, the thought of suddenly changing the way I document birth really scared me.

Working for four and a half years without using an external flash has worked well and it has catered to me being an unobtrusive part of a birth team.

The thought of suddenly introducing what I considered a very noticeable piece of equipment into a calm and focused birth space worried me as well.

I have prided myself on the fact that I arrive during the intense throws of labor, when mothers and birth teams do not notice me, and I have loved that doulas, midwives, nurses have all coined the term “birth ninja” for me over the years, continuously being surprised at how I was able to capture so many raw and purely emotional moments when they didn’t even realize I was there.

What started this entire idea of debating external flash use during birth?

For years I have been a member of IAPBP (International Association of Professional Birth Photographers) and slowly I started noticing a small group of quickly growing birth workers called Birth Becomes Her. I joined the private group, and slowly began to find my footing in what I realized was a nation-wide on-line birth community for birth photographers and also labor doulas and midwives crossing over to birth photography. As I observed their work over the years and their work ethic, I realized several of the birthing photographers working in Denver, Colorado and in Canada were using external flash during their client’s births. For months and YEARS this was a knowledge that I didn’t know what to do with.

I loved meeting and sitting down with my clients and explaining how I don’t bring any large equipment to their labors, to keep it an intimate and quiet setting. How I like to be a fly on the wall, reserved and focused, silently supporting the laboring couple while also capturing their extraordinary journey, while never being noticed. I loved priding myself on how many of my clients would tell me, they were not even aware I was in the room until well after their baby was born. Being an unobtrusive member of my client’s birth team was a key element in how I saw myself for years.

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The thought of bringing in an external flash, with a light going on constantly, illuminating an otherwise dark sacred laboring space, distracting my client’s focus, distracting their birth team — well it was a terrifying thought.

I continued to follow the photographers of BBH for a long time, especially someone I hold in high regard, Monet Nicole, and I continued to wonder how she does it. How does she get her birth clients on board with such a distracting, obtrusive element of photography.

It wasn’t until I started digging deeper and actually considering it seriously that I found myself becoming more educated.

The first big impact on my journey to flash was the investment in an external flash. Being a natural / or available (ambient lighting) photographer for years, this is something I’ve worked with maybe one or twice at a wedding well over a decade ago. I found the members of Birth Becomes Her (BBH) very supportive and informative — and they guided me to purchasing my first flash for just a few dollars. All these years I thought this would be a $200-$400 investment for me but instead, I made a small purchase for a very basic speedlight that ended up working exceedingly well for me

Fast forward 5 births and two months, I have documented five women laboring, giving birth and enjoying their newborn babies all while using flash. I even used flash at two of those births during day light hours to help me fill in the shadows.

What have my birth clients said about me using flash at their births?

Since purchasing my flash and photographing five births with it, I have asked feedback from my clients, their partners/spouses, labor and delivery nurses and midwives each time like an absolutely paranoid person if the flash was bothersome, (Think: Natural Light Devoted Photographer), as I was trying to collect feedback on how the external flash affected them. I wanted to use their feedback on how they experienced the flash during their labor/birth to decide if I could or should continue using flash with future birth clients, and each time my birth clients have one of two responses regarding their feelings on the external flash:

-you used flash?

(After all the paranoia on my part of being obtrusive to my birth clients, this reaction made me laugh out loud, that no one even noticed it being used in a small and dark birthing space)

-it was completely fine and didn’t bother me at all

The Beauty of Natural / Ambient Lighting

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With all of this being said, there is something to be said of the beauty of natural / ambient lighting.

There are definitely moments where I certainly make the decision to not use external flash. Moments where shadows are casting all over the room, all over mom’s face, and its a moment of absolute beauty. It can be a profound moment of reflection, it can be moody, romantic lighting. But typically, for the delivery of baby, I use flash. This moment happens extremely quickly. I have had perhaps 3 of 100 women crowning for a long amount of time. Typically by the time baby’s head is crowning, baby is on mom’s chest within 3 to 10 seconds thereafter. There is no time for messing up, no time for dimly lit rooms.


As a personal feedback myself, if I was going to attend a Hypnobirth where my client was laboring in a room without light, and the mom was not yet at the stage of labor where she was bearing down, (transition), I would be very hesitant to use my external flash, despite the 100% positive feedback from the last five clients births I have attended using my flash. Being a hypnobirther myself with my second pregnancy, I don’t know if adding ANYTHING extra to my gear during early labor is conducive to a positive and calm birthing environment, other than a dark room, soft voices, essential oils, hip squeezes.

However, that being said, I do things very specifically with my birth photography and birth videos. I rarely arrive to a birth when a woman is 6 hours away from transition, although occasionally I do come earlier than usual, typically, I arrive about 1-3 hours before the stage of labor called transition. I do this intentionally. I don’t want to be in any way disruptive to a laboring mom. And a person can be disruptive just by being present, it doesn’t require a bright shining light to mess with the flow of labor. I communicate really well with my clients and their birth teams during their labors to ensure that I am coming closer to when a woman is between 6-8 cm dilated. It varies of course based on whether she is a first, second time mom, an unmedicated birth or epidural or induction. But I always aim to arrive when a woman is between 6 - 8 cm dilated. That ensures she is past the stage of 5 centimeters and active labor really kicks in. On average, women dilate about 1 centimeter per hour, but I find this to be a very loose guideline as I have seen women go from 5 to 10 centimeters in 12 hours and women go from 5 to 10 centimeters in thirty minutes. And that is why the efficacy of excellent communication has its positive outcomes for all the births I attend.

Birth Photo without the use of external flash

Birth Photo without the use of external flash

I did attend a hypnobirth in January of this year where mom was closer to 3 centimeters (a birth I chose to attend earlier for many reasons) and I chose to use flash at this particularly labor. I informed mom and dad ahead of time that if it was bothersome, to let me know and I would continue with the use of ambient lighting only.

Birth Photo with the use of external flash

Birth Photo with the use of external flash

According to the parents feedback, it did not affect the mom at all, and I find that most of my birth clients build a tremendous trust with me during their pregnancies, they follow my work on facebook and instagram and together we take the time to review the difference in quality of images with the use of external flash vs not using flash, and it is my clients who decide they want me to use flash at their birth. It is never a requirement or rule. It is a very open flow of communication.

I hope this helps someone who is in between trying to make the decision.

FEATURED Guest Mama Blogger: The Triefler Tribe on the topic of VBAC


I spoke to Michelle for the first time in the beginning of July of last year. She initially reached out to me to get my input on Boca Raton Regional Hospital. I am a huge supporter of mamas choosing this hospital for their births, especially when moms are trying for a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section). Over the last four and a half years I’ve been to many hospitals from Jupiter through North Miami and have really gotten to see various hospital restrictions/policies and the way labor and delivery is run from hospital to hospital, and under larger hospital umbrellas like Broward Health, HCA, etc.

Back in July, Michelle reached out to me asking what would happen, if a rupture occurred or a c-section needed to happen. I immediately recommended to interview the practices who deliver at Boca Regional who do VBAC, and since Michelle was specifically interested in midwives (Certified Nurse Midwives) for her delivery, I suggested the practice that most of my VBAC clients have chosen over the last two years to VBAC with — Courtney McMillian, CNM and Polina Goldenberg, CNM at Boca Midwifery. Michelle and I chatted back and forth for about a month on facebook messenger and I shared all my knowledge of the previous successful vbacs I had attended with her during this time. I was really happy for her when she told me she had met with Boca Midwifery and decided to leave her OBGYN in Port St Lucie who did not do VBACs and hire the CNMs at Boca Midwifery for her trial of labor in hopes of a successful VBAC. I was so happy this mama would have the best chance at a VBAC. Her midwives and their backup OB Dr. David Lubetkin currently have a 13% c-section rate, and a very high rate of successful, smooth and safe VBAC deliveries.

In Michelle’s guest blog post below, she shares with us the story of how she planned for her VBAC and her amazing birth story. I invite you to check out and follow Michelle on her amazing Triefler Tribe blog here

➡➡➡➡ thetrieflertribe.com

Where she shares personal stories of her own infertility struggles, talks about her motherhood journey and what it’s like being a girl mom (and now has one child of each gender!) and compares her first pregnancy journey to her second.


When we found out we were pregnant again, naturally this time, after conceiving our daughter via IUI and given a 3% chance of conceiving on our own, our world was turned upside down in the most beautiful way. Having had a c-section with my daughter at 37 weeks for suspected IUGR and breech presentation, I knew this time I wanted a VBAC. I knew that in order for that to be possible, I needed to have a home birth or to find a hospital and provider willing to take me and allow me to attempt a VBAC. I wasn't a big fan of attempting a VBAC at home so I joined a VBAC support group on Facebook and was given a wealth of knowledge of where to go and who to see. That meant having to travel an hour and a half south of where I live in order to have the BEST chance of being successful.

I started going to physical therapy and a chiropractor to make sure my body was aligned and in the best shape possible. I needed to do everything in my power to make sure my son had enough room to turn head down, unlike his stubborn big sister!

The day before I went into labor, I went to physical therapy and had acupressure done.

From my previous midwife appointment the week before, I was already 3 cm dilated, 50% effaced, and my son, Weston's, head was at a 0 station so he was getting ready to arrive any day! Contractions started that night but weren’t consistent. The next day, I had my midwife appointment at Boca Midwifery. They checked me and I was still at a 3 but 90% effaced. We went all the way home and I started having irregular contractions all day long. They got to a point where they were getting uncomfortable so we decided that it was time to head down to Boca once again. My midwife was very confident that I was in early labor. Luckily, Aaron and I were able to put my daughter, Peyton, down to sleep for the night. I was bawling my eyes out because I felt in my heart that I was putting her to sleep for the last time before we brought her brother home. My in-laws came over and Aaron and I left the house for the last time without our little girl.

When we got to the hospital, at around 10:30 p.m. my contractions slowed, of course. I was still admitted and the night was only getting started. We waited a while and I started bouncing on my ball and walking around and things started picking up again. My parents decided to start heading down south, my midwife arrived at the hospital, and my doula was there shortly after. While Aaron got some last minute sleep in, my doula and I started walking the halls. Contractions started getting more regular and more painful. I was dilated to about a 4 now. (Side note: I will say that I am the WORST with cervical checks. I can hardly get through them). I decided to get into the labor tub that we rented which was SO worth it. It really helped.

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Having a doula was invaluable.

My AMAZING doula, Lisa Raynor, was absolutely incredible. I could NOT have gotten through this without her. She knew exactly what to do for each contraction and her hip squeeze technique was just what I needed. It helped SO SO much. Not only was she there for physical support, her emotional support and knowledge helped me make decisions that I otherwise would have been so confused about. I will forever be grateful to her for all she did for us.

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So, I was in there for about 3ish hours when my midwife came to check again because my contractions were clearly extremely painful and very close together. I also started feeling some pressure so I was checked again and dilated to only about 5/6ish. So it wasn’t as much progress as expected and she asked if I wanted her to break my water instead of starting a low dose pitocin. I agreed, my water was broken, and I got back in the tub. Contractions from there were excruciating. I believe my water was broken at about 4 a.m. and by 6:30 a.m. I was completely and utterly exhausted. I was practically passing out in the tub in between contractions from laboring all that day and all throughout the night without any sleep. It was SO hard to keep my focus and I was really struggling. All I wanted was rest but these contractions weren’t stopping anytime soon.

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My midwife offered to check me again and I was SO hesitant and the thought of another check, during these contractions, and having to mentally bounce back seemed impossible but I agreed. I wanted to know if I made progress… but when she was about to do it I freaked out. I was having horrible contractions, I was completely exhausted to the point that I wasn’t even making sense to myself, and mentally, the checks do not go well for me. I NEEDED to keep a positive and strong mindset and that wasn’t going to happen. I had to make a choice at that point. The anesthesiologist wasn’t going to be available until after 8:30 a.m. The thought of not having any sleep since the previous day and eventually having to push really didn’t sit well with me. As much as I wanted to do this naturally, the circumstances weren’t in my favor and I agreed to get the epidural.

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I felt a bit defeated, I’m not going to lie. I wanted the natural birth experience. It seemed like everyone in the room understood what I wanted but also knew that I was past the point of complete and utter exhaustion from being up for 24 hours and we weren’t sure how much I progressed at this point. The epidural went very well. It was basically painless and it was an instant relief from all of those horrific contractions. My midwife came back in to see what I progressed to since I was open to the check since I was numb and I was at a 6 still. At this point, any feelings of defeat of getting the epidural were GONE because if I didn’t get it and I knew that I didn’t progress after ALL OF THAT PAIN and having to go through another check… it would have put me over the edge. I was so disappointed. No one gave up on me though and everyone had to help me mentally get back in the game.

So I rested. It felt so good to finally relax and let my body do what it needed to do in a restful state of mind and in calm body.

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They started me on a low dose pit to try to get some progression going.

When I say low, I mean like at a 0.5. While I rested, my husband, midwife, doula, and birth photographer all went down to get some food.

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Shortly after, they were all back in the room but not because they were done eating. Weston started having heart decels during my contractions. My blood pressure was dropping. So they had me switch sides to see if that helped and it did for a little while.

They stopped the pitocin to let the contractions slow down a bit and to make sure his reserve was still good.

After 30 minutes, all was well, and they started the low dose pit again. They started it and my body and Weston DID NOT like that. I was having a 3 minute long contraction and he was struggling in there. I kept asking what was going on and is everything okay, but everyone was SO busy and bustling around, flipping me back and forth… I knew something was wrong. They were just about to give me terbutaline to stop the contraction but they put me on my back first and it stopped so I didn’t need the medication. They stopped the pitocin completely. At this point, if things continued to go this way, with no progression, it was looking like a repeat c-section. My midwife and back up OB have a very low tolerance for heart decels and their main goal is for a safe mama and baby.

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I knew that things weren’t looking great when my midwife sat down and explained to me that a VBAC was not a guaranteed thing and that this was a TOLAC (trial of labor after csection).

TOLAC (trial of labor after csection)

My heart sank and my husband, Aaron was sitting by my head trying to make me feel better. Of course I wanted a healthy baby and for me to be okay after all of this, but I couldn’t help but feel so SAD that I did so much during this pregnancy to give myself the BEST chance at a VBAC and that this was happening the way it was.

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My ANGEL of a nurse, Mary Jane, I will never forget her for as long as I live. I knew her for a few hours, but she is probably one of my favorite people ever.

She was the EXACT nurse I needed for this experience.

She had asked me earlier that night if I prayed. I told her no. After all of these hiccups, I was laying on my side toward Aaron, she came over to my other side and I heard her whisper in my ear “I know you don’t pray, but can I please pray over you”. I said yes, of course. She started the prayer with everyone surrounding me in the bed and it was such a calming experience. She has such a calming voice. After she did this, things were starting to look up. It was absolutely incredible.

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Later on my midwife checked me and I was STILL at a 6 after all of that time!! She asked if I had any procedures done on my cervix because there seemed to be scar tissue there. I said no, because I haven’t. I have no clue what that was about. Now we knew why I wasn’t progressing. She started to massage my cervix (I didn’t feel a THING from the epidural, but I felt this, and it was a LOT of pressure. If I didn’t have the epidural and she had to do this, I would have lost my mind). She took her hand out and said “you just went from a 6 to an 8”.


That was when I knew that getting the epidural was the right choice for me. I would have continued to labor, hard, with no progression because of some issue with my cervix. This is why I am so glad I had the care that I did. Instead of just giving up and rushing this VBAC attempt into the O.R., they did everything they could for me. After that, things were going SO well. The vibe in the room changed and everyone was chatting and laughing and truly enjoying one another. I had some energy back, my positivity was back, and Aaron looked at me and said “the vibe in here has completely changed, let’s keep this going”.

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We were all having blast and soon enough his head was coming out of me and it was time to push! This was my favorite part of the entire experience. We were all laughing and joking around while everyone is staring at my vagina waiting for more of his hair to come out! I was surrounded by Aaron and a bad ass tribe of women.

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My mother, my nurse MJ, my midwife Polina, my midwife Courtney, my doula Lisa, and Paulina, my birth photographer. The most amazing birth team I could have ever asked for. I can’t even begin to express how much I love each of these women and what they did for me and baby Weston. They kept us safe, they never gave up on me, they didn’t give up on him and they helped me achieve the birth experience I have always dreamed about.

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I pushed for less than an hour and Weston was HERE. Born January 18, 2019 at 12:45 p.m. weighing 8 pounds 3 ounces and 20.5 inches long. He was put directly on my chest and it was the most blissful experience in the world. I was so relieved and said “WE DID IT”. The feeling in the room was incredible and I am so happy with how everything turned out.

I couldn’t be more grateful to EVERYONE at Boca Regional Hospital.

The most incredible staff I have ever known. Every single person is rooting for you, wants what is best for you, and takes care of you.

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I do want to talk about something else. I want every woman reading this to know that you have a choice. You have a choice in how and where you want to birth, no matter if you had a previous c-section or not. You have the right to exceptional prenatal care.

You have the right to NOT be traumatized by your birth/ birth team.

Birth doesn’t always go exactly as planned. Mine didn’t both times. But this time, I had support, I had a fantastic birth team, and I had a voice. I feel so content and happy with my birth experience. I want every woman to feel the way I do. You deserve it!

Thank you Michelle for an amazing guest blog post!

I invite you to check out and follow Michelle on her amazing Triefler Tribe blog here

➡➡➡➡ thetrieflertribe.com

Guest Blogger: Planning an Out-Of-Hospital Birth

This February, I have the pleasure of introducing you to a new and exciting guest mama blogger on the Paulina Splechta Birth Photography & Films birth blog @thecarinachronicles

I had the pleasure of meeting first time mom, Carina, during pregnancy with baby boy Matteo.

The mom blogger behind "The Carina Chronicles.com” Carina blogs about healthy eating and powerfoods during pregnancy, and even ventures into topics of couples therapy and her “Unexpected” Pregnancy Reaction. You can visit her blog here ➡ thecarinachronicles.com

During her pregnancy we had the chance to run a ‘trial labor session’ at Natural Birthworks Birth Center in Margate, FL to be able to give women planning a birth center or home birth an idea of what early labor might look like for some moms. In Carina’s guest blog post below, she shares with us her research making process that led her to deciding to have an out of hospital birth with her first child. I am so eager for you to read her post! Let me know your thoughts on out of hospital births below!

Planning an Out-Of-Hospital Birth

The decision to have a home birth isn’t a common one, especially since only 2% of babies in the U.S. are birthed at home. We have grown up relating births to hospitals, along with the picture of birth being a terrifying experience thanks to what movies and tv shows portray it to be.

The truth is, most complications in hospitals arise due to interventions as soon as labor begins. If a woman is low-risk for complications during pregnancy, then they can ultimately have an out-of-hospital birth. Women have been birthing since the beginning of time, and our bodies are made for this.

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Here are some ways to prepare for an out-of-hospital birth, whether it be at home or in a birthing center. Doing adequate research, mentally and physically preparing for labor, and designing the ultimate labor environment are essential for having a comfortable home birth.


Researching and instilling confidence in yourself about an out of hospital birth is the most important starting point. Giving birth out of a hospital setting is not the norm, especially when it comes to telling others about it. Most people simply relate giving birth to being in hospitals because it is known as a “safe” environment. Most people will scare you into the complications of birth, such as “What if the cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck?” or “What is the baby becomes distressed?”. Midwives are equipped to handle these situations and there is always a Plan B if your midwife feels a need for a transfer. This is why it’s important to have all the information on hand and remain confident in your power and ability to birth naturally.

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A very powerful and informative documentary is ‘The Business of Being Born’, a documentary that explores the maternity care system in America and questions what occurs behind closed doors. ‘Midwife’ is another great documentary we enjoyed which examines the life of a home birth midwife, from prenatal visits, to birth, to postpartum. This convinced me to make the switch from my OBGYN at twenty weeks of pregnancy.


A wise home birther once told me, “You need to prepare for this as a runner prepares for a marathon.” This means preparation for birth starts at the beginning of pregnancy. Mental and physical preparation is key to prepare for the intensity of childbirth.

Mental Preparation

We all know the saying “mind over matter” which relates to how you must think during childbirth. Deep breathing, meditation with guided imagery, and positive thinking are important during labor.

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Many mothers have taken hypno-birthing classes, which is a childbirth education course that teaches self-hypnosis techniques to combat fear and pain during labor. Meditation is another great relaxation technique that focuses on practicing mindfulness to train awareness and attention and achieve a mentally and emotionally calm state.

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I did not take the hypnobirthing classes, but I did listen to guided meditations intended for childbirth throughout my pregnancy. These meditations focus on a positive childbirth experience and help to eradicate any thoughts of fear during labor. Throughout labor, my partner helped me maintain deep breathing techniques through contractions to calm my nervous system. Focusing on the count of my breath helped to distract me during the intensity of a contraction.

Physical Preparation

At every prenatal appointment, my midwife would ask, “So, how much are we exercising?” Staying active during pregnancy is important for both physical and mental health. Walking and prenatal yoga are two great exercises to prepare the body for childbirth.

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Prenatal yoga helps to increase the strength and flexibility of muscles needed for childbirth along with improving sleep, reducing stress levels, and decreasing aches and pains associated with pregnancy. Walking during pregnancy helps keep mom and baby’s weight in check along with reducing the risk of preeclampsia, and lowering the risk of gestational diabetes. Always be sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise routine.

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During pregnancy, I worked in a nursing home which required a lot of walking. I worked up to 39 weeks pregnant and would average at least 5,000 steps a day. When the baby decided he wanted to come ten days post due date, I increased my walks to 2 miles every other day along with squats and lunges at the park in hopes to induce labor. Occasionally, I would do prenatal yoga from DVDs I rented at the library.

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Setting up the perfect environment for your home birth is crucial. Your midwife will most likely give you a list of supplies to prepare, such as towels, blankets, trash bags, and other similar items. Setting up the ambiance of the room you plan to birth in is important to having calm and peaceful labor, from deciding who will attend your birth to making sure you have a toolbox of natural pain relief techniques.

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Birth Team

It’s imperative to be strict on who you have during your birth because the energy given out by those people will affect the flow of labor. You can consider hiring a doula, who is a non-medical person who assists women before, during, or after childbirth to provide emotional and physical help. A birth photographer is also a significant investment because the labor process can be such a blur and capturing those images of you doing something so powerful can be rewarding. But most importantly, you must consider the family members who will be there. Having too many people at once can interrupt the flow of the labor process, possibly stalling your labor.  My midwife once told me, “The hormones you used to make this baby are the same ones that will help you get the baby out.”

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   I had initially intended for a doula to be present during my birth, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out due to scheduling conflicts. However, I now look back and realize the importance of having a doula. It would’ve allowed my partner to be with me every second, instead of having to run back and forth to apply pressure to my hips during a contraction along with simply getting me snacks from across the room. A birth photographer also would’ve been a great investment because thinking back; I don’t quite remember much of that day. Luckily, my midwives birth assistant took great photos and a video of the baby being born in the tub. When it came to family members, I did not want anyone present. I felt like birth is so personal that all I needed for emotional and spiritual support was my partner, and I’m happy I made that decision.

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Pain Management

There is a reason why a seventy-one percent of women receive epidural or spinal anesthesia during delivery because childbirth is no joke. However, once receiving the epidural, it may prolong labor which increases the risk of complications. There are many natural pain relief techniques one can use during labor to make the transition easier.

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You can relax in warm water which relaxes muscles and relieves pressure on the pelvis. Sitting on an exercise ball and rotating your hips can also help open the pelvis, and aid in descending the baby. Aromatherapy is found to help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation during labor, such as lavender and peppermint oil. I loved being on all fours in the shower while allowing the warm water to hit my back and helped me relax during the contractions.

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Be sure to keep all this in mind if planning to be part of the small group of powerful women having out of hospital births. The earlier you start preparing, the easier it will be. Know that whatever you decide, even if your birth doesn’t go as planned, what matters is bringing your beautiful baby into the world. Whether it be at home, a birthing center, or in a hospital, know- You got this mama!

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How was your birth experience?

Would you consider a birthing center or home birth?

Let me know by commenting below!

Questions to Ask at your first prenatal visit

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Once you find out you are pregnant, the next step is to interview OBGYNS / Midwives.

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You don’t have to skip the above mentioned skip this and go straight into your first prenatal visit

(but this is a little known fact!)

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When I got pregnant with my first baby, I asked my closest friend if she liked her OBGYN, I got his name and office directions and scheduled my first prenatal visit. I didn’t even do the interview step! But come week 40 of my pregnancy, and I still had not gone into labor, I suddenly started becoming aware of several red flags that had been waving during my entire pregnancy right below my nose that I had not even noticed until it was my due date.


Once you hit your due date, there’s not really any going back. That is not the time to evaluate if you made the right decision going with this provider.

Most women simply do not know that pregnancy and birth, just like every other decision in life, you can make a list of providers (doctors [OBs] and midwives) and go and interview them!

All you do, is call the office, let them know you’re pregnant and would like to schedule a consultation with so and so.

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Most women realize they have some questions about pregnancy, or symptoms they may be feeling (like nausea, headaches/migraines, bleeding, belly tightening sensations, the list goes on) and they compiled these questions on a sheet of paper, or notes on their iphone and ask during prenatal visits. And I highly encourage that! But before you even get to that point, ask yourself, what are the main criteria that you look for in a provider who is going to be delivering your baby?

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Knowing what you’re looking for in a provider can help you make the right decision in which doctor or midwife to hire as your prenatal care provider. But sometimes it’s not that easy. Sometimes, we have no idea what we are expecting, or hoping for, until much later. Sometimes, as a first time mom, we truly don’t even have any expectations cause we are doing this for the first time, experiencing pregnancy for the first time, every new symptom is really NEW new, so our expectations are set a little low and we are kind of up for anything.

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But just because our main focus of pregnancy is healthy mom, healthy baby, does not mean compassion, patience, warmth, have to be taken out of the equation. And because every single doctor and midwife is so different, it’s important to ask good and direct questions to make sure we are choosing the person who we will trust during our entire pregnancy and when we go into labor without a doubt!

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So below, I’ve compiled a solid list of questions that not only great for your first prenatal visit, but if you’ve already been under the care of a specific doctor or midwife your whole pregnancy, this is a great time to evaluate what questions you may have, just in case you realize they may not be the right fit for you (which sometimes happens) and it’s so helpful to identify if someone is not the right doctor for you, before you get to 35 weeks of your pregnancy which is the typical cut off time by obstetrics practices to accept transfer of patients from another practice (in case you want to leave your doctors practice to hire a doctor who is more in line with your expectations).

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Without further ado, here is a list of 11 questions to ask at your first prenatal visit:

1. Who will deliver my baby?

Keep in mind the bigger the practice, the more providers who are on rotation of who is on-call what night, and if you go into spontaneous labor, you may get any of them, so you want to be sure to meet every doctor and midwife in the practice to get a feel for their personalities, characteristics, how you feel around them, and what their philosophy of birth is.

2. Are they open to birth plans? or a birth preferences list?

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3. What hospitals do they have privileges at / prefer delivering at and why?

4. How many vaginal checks do they do during pregnancy and during labor? Should I get them, how necessary are they, what are the benefits/downsides and when do I need to have them done?

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5. Under what circumstances during pregnancy would you recommend an induction? How can an induction affect the outcome of my birth (vaginal / cesarean) What type of inductions do you do?

6. What is your opinion of labor doulas? What percentage of your patients use a doula? What doulas do you recommend?

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7. Under what circumstances during labor would you recommend to administer medications such as cervidil or pitocin?

8. How do you handle past due dates? (Over 40 weeks, over 41 weeks)


9. What is your percentage of your patients get an epidural, What percentage have vaginal births? / percentage of c-sections? Under what circumstances during pregnancy would you recommend a scheduled cesarean?

10. Are you planning any vacations, trips, major surgeries, or other events 3-4 weeks before my due date, or up to 2 weeks after my due date that would interfere with your attendance at the birth?

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11. What positions do you feel comfortable delivering in? (on back, squatting (using a squat bar), on all fours (knees and elbows)?


Once you are decided on the practice you will be delivering with, and get into your second and third trimester, you can go here to read a list of questions to ask your doctor in your third trimester, before you give birth: http://www.paulinasplechta.com/blog/2018/7/18/what-to-ask-a-midwife-or-obgyn-when-meeting-


Not Just a Birth Photographer

I find it really hard to disconnect from my birth clients and just be a photographer.
Nowhere in my birth contract does it say I will hold your hand when labor gets too intense, but if a woman needs me to, I do, like I am in my black tee in this picture taken by a nurse.

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Nowhere under “birth” does it say I will drive all the way back the next day for when your first born is meeting your newborn baby for the first time and you are melting, but I am melting along with you and I am there. 

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I can’t help it. These are not only my clients, they become my family.
My heart ♥️♥️♥️♥️ and my life divide three ways...

in ways most business owners never share their heart and life...
1.... to my own children...
2.... to my husband and home...
3... to my birth clients
No personal event ever outweighs me attending a birth. I’ve gone to births and missed my own birthday, I’ve missed my children’s birthdays
I’ve missed Christmas
I’ve even gone to births with the worst of migraines.
In 4 and a half years I’ve gone to almost 100 births. Because it’s not just a job to me. It’s not just photographs that look beautiful. It’s the power of the birthing motherhood community that no one talks about until a woman is vulnerable and simultaneously she is so powerful during labor, titles and time melts away and you are there to support her through a sisterhood that is felt, not spoken.

The Problem with hiring your family / wedding / friend photographer to capture your birth story


There are a few birth photographers down here in south Florida who I am sure have the credentials as professional photographers and high quality work in their field of speciality, but the problem we’ve found with my birth clients who have used their family photographer (or wedding photographer) for their previous baby’s birth is that these professional photographers don’t quite get the right shot. Remember, they are not birth-industry specialists. They tend to photograph the care provider delivering the baby but from a very revealing angle while completely forgetting to capture mom and dad’s very emotional reactions to seeing their baby’s face for the first time.

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It makes sense to me why this mistake is commonly made by those without birth industry experience: birth photography sounds like it could be a medical-geared genre of photography (such as the medical images you might find in an anatomy textbook about birth). And I am sure it really depends on the kind of birth photographer you hire (I say it is VITAL to look through their vast birth galleries to ensure not only their work is high quality and their editing style suits you, but the TYPE of photographs you would expect). There is a huge difference in photographer styles and approaches. For me, birth photography is much, much more than a baby’s head crowning and being delivered into the hands of an OBGYN.

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To me, birth photography starts during labor: the powerful goddess that you are. You may not think of yourself in this way just yet. But just wait. When your sweet baby grows up and you look back on that first day you met her, you’ll realize looking at these images, how strong, brave, and focused you were on the only thing that mattered, bringing her into this world. And it might take your breath away for a second. As she is going off to college, or getting married, or perhaps in labor with HER first child, think of the powerful message you will pass onto her: YES BABY, you CAN do this! I DID THIS with you 30 years ago!

The crowning/delivering moment of birth is a piece of the puzzle. Without the journey bringing your baby into this world, it’s not quite the entire story. Did your partner hold your head up as you’re pushing? Did they look at you in total surprise and also admiration, never knowing you were so strong of a woman? Did they hold your hand?

And once your baby is born, what did you say? Were there tears in your eyes for a split second when you first saw his or her face?

Did your partner kiss your head almost to say “damn I am so proud of you, thank you for giving me my son”

That first touch, that first look, the first time you feel their super soft skin and realize how tiny they are, that they have your nose and his eyes?

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All these precious firsts matter so much. They are all part of your journey, your transformation, and that is why my work focuses not on the anatomical process of birth, while acknowledging it, the main part of my work is HOW does this journey affect you? How does it strengthen you.

I have attended nearly 100 births in the last 4 and a half years, and what really broke my heart recently was a client sharing her story with me. A photographer was suppose to come to her birth, but she wasn’t on-call for them until 37 weeks, and my client went into labor during her 36th week of pregnancy, and they were unable to reach her. This is exactly why my on-call time for my clients starts at 28 weeks, the start of the third trimester. You have the security of knowing I am available whether day or night, for up to 14 weeks of your pregnancy and should your baby be a premie baby, you certainly deserve a birth story just as much as if your baby was born full term. The really heartbreaking part of this is that it is not the first time I’ve heard it. Women go into labor usually during the night (maybe 90% of my clients have over 4.5 years) and as a professional, on-call photographer who guarantees being on standby for your client, literally 24 hours a day (not just day time hours) you need to be prepared not only to drop everything and go when your client needs you, but to wake up the second you get that call. There is no snooze button in on-call work. And to not get out of bed instantly and commit to this family, despite how tired you are, is simply unprofessional and unacceptable. There are no do-overs in birth.

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Yes, I do have birth photographers on-call for me when I have more than 1 client due in a certain time frame, I feel most comfortable having many back-up plans for all the unpredictable aspects of birth, but in 4.5 years I have not once sent a back up photographer in my place. I do this by limiting how many families I work with each month, so I can be present not only for each of my families but also, be a good mom to my own kids at home. It is not fair for me to be burned out and overworked and sloppy, not fair to my clients, not fair to my own family. That is also why I do not work in any other genre of photography. Occasionally, when I have a slow month (the birth world always has mountains and valleys), I will invite past birth clients for family photos, but I do not ever commit to year round family/maternity/newborn/breastfeeding sessions. My commitment in my life lies in 2 places: my birth clients and my own family. Imagine if I took wedding clients and you were to go into labor during a wedding of mine. I would have no choice but to send a back up photographer to you. I have a hard time disconnecting from my birth clients. They are like my own family, and I cannot imagine ever saying I cannot come because I have another commitment.

I privately edit all of your birth story myself instead of outsourcing the editing like many photographers do to photographers who spend their year editing the work of other photographers. It is too important to me, I need to edit your photos myself. They are my art of your extraordinary experience, so your photos and video are always completely private with me in my office.

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Since almost half of the births I have photographed have all been photographed at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, the labor and delivery staff are very familiar and comfortable in working with me, they see me every month, and they know they can depend on my professionalism and being unobtrusive.

I have two phones, and although no one has ever had to use the second phone in all 4 years, this is my security measure for you to know that you can reach me multiple ways in case cell phone towers are being funky the night you go into labor.

How does birth photography work?

35 weeks

We are in touch weekly starting 35 weeks of pregnancy, you can inform me of any pregnancy symptoms, comments from your midwife or OB on baby’s size or when they think you may go into labor so I can be especially sensitive and alert.


You notify me once you have consistent contractions for 2 hours so I can be prepared on my end to join you at your birth once you are in the late stages of active labor, that way I won’t be intrusive to you during the earlier stages when women tend to need space to be alone. I tend to be with clients for 2 to 6 hours on average before baby is born so I am able to capture the moments of you being a powerful and strong mama and your partner being supportive of you and it’s okay if you end up having a longer labor because I always am happy to be present and never rushed for time. And I like to stay for at least 1 hour following birth to ensure I can capture all the first moments of you enjoying your baby, breastfeeding if you are planning on it, daddy holding baby for the first time, and the entire baby exam where we will find out how much she weighs and how long she is. For families with older siblings I like to come back the following day for that first meeting between big brother and baby sister.

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You are already such a strong and amazing mama!

And it is really brave that you are listening to your heart and realizing how important it is to you to have this emotional moment documented of both of your faces the moment you both meet your baby so you can remember this day forever, all the moms say they forget most of it just even a year later, and you’ll be able to share the first time you saw her when she is older

Interested in learning more about birth photography?

Contact me below today and check on my availability

for your due date!

Name *

Guest Blogger: Gelena Hinkley Midwife & Owner of Natural Birthworks Birth Center


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Gelena Hinkley, LM, CPM

Studied under the tutelage of renowned Midwife, Shari Daniels, at the International School of Midwifery in Miami. Gelena is a Licensed Midwife (LM) by the Florida Department of Health and certified as a Professional Midwife (CPM). Gelena’s passion for knowledge in her field has pushed her to continue her education and she is going for her Bachelors of Science in Midwifery (BSM) with the end goal being a Masters of Science in Midwifery (MSM).

What are Midwives? 

Midwives are trained professionals who assist a pregnant mom through her pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period. The training, licensing, and certifications they received are completely emerged in Midwifery care. This means they specialize in low-risk, know what's out of the normal, and are trained in how to address that safely, early, and quickly. Their training also discusses newborn care this way immediately following birth and up to 6 weeks after they can help with newborn issues. These direct-entry Midwives usually work in a homebirth setting and birth center.

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Why doesn't every low-risk woman have one? 
That's a good question. England, and many other countries have Midwives as the lead for low-risk pregnant moms. When a woman requires a specialist due to a high-risk factor they then are sent over to an OB. This is how it should be for all woman. Since outcomes for low-risk women seen by a Midwife is extremely good this could really help improve the USA rating on our maternal/infant morbidity and mortality.

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Why a Midwife and not an OB? 
Midwives are trained for normal, low-risk pregnant women during prenatal care, birth, and 6 weeks postpartum. OB's are physician's who've successfully completed specialized education and training in the management of pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. They provide medical and surgical care to women. Since pregnancy is a normal process for a woman, they should be seen by one who is trained for normal, if things become high-risk then they should be transferred to a specialist.

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Is it safe? 
How many people are in the world today? Midwives are one of the oldest professions in our history. We continue to educate, receive continuing education and certifications to ensure we are providing the safest up to date care to our families.

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What's a Waterbirth all about? 
Many believe that since the baby has been living in water for 9 months, then why wouldn't we help it transition with water to life? Other mothers believe the intensity of labor is eased when they can use the water. There is always the small group that also think the water soothing and moistening the perineum will help lessen their chances of tearing. Whichever option, they are all good reasons to consider the water.

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You can learn more about Midwife Gelena Hinkley and contact her below:

Peaceful Pregnancy Pathways ~ P3 Birth

Home Birth Midwife




513 Melaleuca Drive, Margate Fl 33063

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Peaceful-Pregnancy-Pathways-P3-146381202069267/?ref=bookmarks

Natural Birthworks

Birth Center


954.960.3213 office

954.603.1471 fax


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NaturalBirthworks?ref=hl

REPEAT C-SECTION Birth Story with Third Baby Girl | Boca Raton Birth Stories


This is a blog post of a very moving, emotional, and powerful birth story about a mama who experienced a journey of TOLAC, attempted VBA2C, and CESAREAN BIRTH

A TOLAC is a trial of labor after a previous c-section birth

A VBA2C is a Vaginal Delivery after two prior c-section births

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Almost 6 years ago I was being induced in labor room 8 at Boca Raton Regional Hospital with my first child Kate. After about 15 hours of failure to progress, I was brought into Operating Room #1 and my first daughter was born there via cesarean delivery.

Despite the fact that I have worked in almost every single labor and delivery room at this particular hospital over my 4 year career as a labor and delivery photographer, it has been almost 6 years since I have been in this specific LD room. Labor Room #8 at Boca Regional.

On September 23rd, 2018, I never expected that my client in labor with baby girl #3 who was attempting a TOLAC and hoping for a vaginal delivery after two prior c-section births, would have a similar story to experience.

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My birth client hired midwives Polina Goldenberg and Courtney McMillian at Boca Midwifery for the birth of her third baby. Her previous two daughters were born via cesarean section and she was hoping for a vaginal delivery with baby #3.

Mama headed into Boca Regional on a Sunday early morning at 4:05am since her labor started.

Around 8:45am, I was already visiting a Fresh 48 session client at the same hospital in post partum who had a cesarean birth the night before, who actually told me that they bumped into each other in triage, so once I was done capturing my client’s older children meeting their 3rd child for the first time, I joined her in LD room 8 around 9:30am. I stayed with them for a little while and took some photos of her in early labor.

Mama labored through some pretty intense contractions for a while.

She walked the halls of the hospital with her midwife Polina and her daughters to help things progress and squatted and leaned against the hospital rails to get more productive contractions.

At around 2:30pm, I was back in my office when I received the update that mama started getting a little nervous during the latest more intense contractions. She started feeling a pulling and stretching sensation around her previous c-section incision site. Her midwife and the back up OBGYN Dr. David Lubetkin, who was overseeing the labor (a doctor who backs up a CNM Midwife for VBAC must be present in the hospital from the moment a vbac patient is in the hospital in labor until delivery in case an emergency c-section must be performed) both felt it could be scar tissue stretching during contractions due to the two previous c-sections, but with mama being so nervous, no one wanted to take the chance, not even mama.

So we prepared for the operating room.

For me as a mommy of two girls, having two c-sections, one of which happened starting in Labor room 8 and ended in the Operating Room 1, this started feeling really sentimental and emotionally compelling for me. I started feeling a very sisterhood connection with this laboring mama as she and her husband got dressed in OR gear

Since contractions hadn’t become so intense that mama felt she needed her labor doula with her before, we called her and asked her to come to hang out with mama’s older daughters while we would be in the operating room. Pictured below is one of my favorite labor doulas in south Florida, Lisa Raynor, hugging mama just before we headed into surgery.

Sometimes moms ask me what happens with their doula support if they need a c-section. The answer is — sometimes mom wants their doula to join us in the operating room, to help talk them through the process, to reassure them that everything they are feeling, both emotionally and physically during the entire process is normal and safe, to be there in support of their partner or spouse and reassure them whether all is going well, and sometimes, staying behind with your older children is just what you may need your doula to do.

When I went in for my repeat cesarean with my second baby, I asked for my doula to come to the hospital and stay with my 3 year old while I was in the operating room. It really made me feel very reassured she was with a person I could trust to keep her safe and preoccupied, so she wouldn’t be sad, scared or missing me while I was in surgery.

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As we walked back to the operating room, mama had to pause a few times as she continued to have contractions. When you spontaneously go into labor before a c-section, you continue to feel contractions until you have received either an epidural or spinal with anesthesia that blocks the sensation of intense contracting of your uterus.

This mama took every single wave and surge like a laboring goddess. I was so in awe of her. She really struck such an emotional nerve with me. I don’t know if it was because she is also a girl mom just like me, and I’ve secretly always dreamed of having three daughters, or if it was the linearity of the event — girl mom, using my favorite midwives for her birth, same hospital as my first, same labor room, same operating room. Maybe it was everything all at once. But I felt such a protective instinct over this mama. Almost like I had to be her big sister in these moments.

Perhaps the sweetest moment of any labor ever was this moment that my client’s husband took her beautiful face in his hands and kissed her just before she walked into the operating room

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And this moment eerily reminded me of my own experience, my own picture through the operating room window next to the sink that my husband took with our cheap black Friday special Nikon camera, (see the photo below on the right) I can only try to recreate in an imaginary fantasy what everything looked like from the outside from this moment:

And here is where I step back in, feeling so humbled & honored that this beautiful couple and family would trust me with this very tremendous moment and story. How I wish there could have been someone to capture these moments of our story with our daughters. Everything I do a birth photographer, I do with the intention of capturing every single moment I never got to have on camera from my two births.

A lot of moms ask me what happens if they have to have a c-section, who will be with them in the operating room. While I don’t know what happens at other hospitals, at Boca Regional, the hospital is a huge proponent of moms being fully supported. Every unexpected c/section delivery where the mom was originally with a midwife, continues to be accompanied by the midwife through the entire delivery even if in the Operating Room. This is HUGE to psychological health for moms during the partum partum period.

After baby girl was born into the hands of Dr. Lubetkin and midwife Polina, the doctor did see that the stretching/pulling sensations mama was getting during contractions and labor was indeed from a lot of scar tissue surrounding her previous two csection incision site. It was however a relief to hear it was not a uterine rupture.

And from this moment of the first meeting, all the emotions that came flooding after, the story that unfolded, was the most beautiful, most healing experience of my life. Seeing a mother SO supported and surrounded by so much love during a cesarean birth was so heart fulfilling.

If you thus far weren’t moved — oh come on :)

Then the following meeting story will completely melt your heart.

As soon as baby girl was born, and mama was brought back to her labor room, both big sisters were waiting with doula Lisa Raynor ready to meet this sweet princess.

Their meeting is EVERYTHING!!

I live for moments like this.

This was also my first time in the last 4 years that my ovaries really started aching, I started picturing myself as a mama of three. I didn’t even care if my third birth would be a vba2c or a third repeat csection, as long as it would be with this birth team, at this hospital, and with both of my daughters at the hospital immediately to meet their baby, I kind of really wanted it in a heart beat. My ovaries ache just thinking about it. My ovaries ache just writing it right now! Baby fever is so contagious! And this birth story and meeting story is completely intoxicating.

At least for me. My hubby better be careful, haha!

Dad’s Face as he sees their “baby” meeting the new baby!

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Oh my stars!

His face totally reminds me of my husband face (see cell phone picture below)

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