After a very exciting and eventful last week, I wanted to sit down and write a blog post to my amazing sacred mama clients to talk about some of the important details surrounding my work and the sacred journey of the mama birth client.
It is rare that I get to sit down to update my blog with a long, heartfelt post, because first and foremost comes my obligation to my family and my mama birth clients who I am on call for the majority of my year; hence we've not been at Disney lately with the kids ;)
You may have been following the media over the past week that has reported on my client's extraordinary second vbac (vaginal birth after cesarean) last Thursday in a very unusual place: the backseat of their family jeep.
After all the initial excitement of seeing such an empowered mama in the news, it became important to me to talk to my mama clients about how a birth story documented by a professional birth photographer made its way into the media.
As my birth clients know, I'm a member of IAPBP (International Association of Professional Birth Photographers). IAPBP has a code of ethics we uphold as professionals. Among these are: our respect for birth family decisions on where and how they want to birth, non-intrusive professional documentation of their labor, birth, and first moments with their baby, preserving a family's privacy;
these are just a few of the very important standards we uphold in order to preserve the integrity of the birth photography industry. You are welcome to read more about this on the IAPBP website ( http://birthphotographers.com/code-of-ethics/ )
Given standards for client privacy, how did my client's birth make it into the media?
It is not every day a mother gives birth in the backseat of a car in front of the hospital. It happens, but typically women plan to give birth in a hospital, at home, or in a birth center. So when the media began contacting both my client and I about the 'car birth' we had a conversation.
Do you want your birth story with photos and video public? What if there is negative feedback, how will that affect you? Do you have energy for this, you just gave birth? Lastly: this is your choice mama. I will protect & keep your birth story private, you tell me what you want.
My client's decision was an easy one for her to make. Both my client Paula and I are big believers in a very simple but often overlooked or pushed away concept:
How and where a woman births her baby will stay with her for the rest of her life and manifest itself in both a physical and emotional impact on the birthing mama.
We both believe every woman has the right to make an informed decision about where and how she wants to birth. It can be an unmedicated birth in the hospital/home/birth center, or a scheduled cesarean, or a vbac, repeat vbac, repeat cesarean, or any number of other birth plans. We advocate for women to make a birth plan that makes them feel safe and happy and we support mothers to choose a provider who will support their birth plan without instilling fear or pressure of what their birth should be from their own perspective as a medical provider.
So why is all this important and how does it relate to my client's birth becoming national news?
Instead of scheduling a repeat c/section for her 3rd birth, which is what she did not want,
(but would have been the route she would have been directed by a vast majority of medical providers in the United States),
Paula wanted to go out of her way to build the right birth team, to find a midwife, (Christine Hackshaw, CNM, MSN, ARNP of Midwifery Women's Care), and a doula (Lindsey Ripley, The Doula Sisters of South Florida), who would support and trust her in what she wanted for herself for her third baby's birth: a second vbac (vaginal birth after cesarean).
So when the media expressed interest in talking about the extraordinary events of Paula's empowered second vbac birth, and I asked whether she wanted her birth to be public, her answer was: yes.
She did not say yes to undermine birthing decisions made by other women who chose to have repeat cesareans and she did not say yes to become a spectacle in the media.
She said yes ...
to help bring national awareness that we must respect birthing mothers, to help empower mothers to become informed in their birth decisions, to find the right provider that will support their birth plan, and to bring awareness that if a mother wants a vaginal birth and she meets the criteria to be considered for a vbac by a medical provider who is skilled in delivering vbac moms, she CAN have it.
Many mothers who have had previous traumatic births deserve the opportunity to know that there is a mom out there like Paula who knows the traumatic birth they have endured because she endured it herself, and who is a vbac warrior because despite it being a difficult road, she fought to have the birth that she wanted, which for her personally, was an unmedicated vaginal birth. She built the right birth team who believed in her and trusted her maternal instincts and she believed in herself.
As women who birth, we have a duty to stop keeping birth such a hidden and private event, far from humanity, behind closed doors.
We have a duty to bring our wisdom as birthing moms and our support to those women who ask for it and to those who don't know there are options.
Women deserve to know that there are women out there who are fighting for them to have beautiful, peaceful, non-traumatic birth experiences, what ever kind of birth plans those must be, to allow moms to look back on their birth of their child with a smile and know that that is what they wanted for their baby and their body and they were fully supported in it.
Paula is an advocate of birth and birth education. With her permission, media networks across the country -- and the globe -- shared the birth story of her third baby and her second vbac (vaginal birth after a c-section) worldwide. Over 30 media outlets talked about her birth! Here are the links to some of the networks below:
http://wtop.com/health/2016/04/photographer-snaps-florida-mom-giving-birth-in-hospital-parking-lot/ http://www.parenting.com/news-break/photographer-captures-babys-birth-hospital-parking-lot http://www.bocanews.com/baby-born-in-parking-lot-of-boca-raton-regional-hospital/ http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/everything-pregnancy/mom-gives-birth-in-hospital-parking-lot-and-has-the-pictures-to-prove/
http://www.wsvn.com/story/31697405/boca-mother-gives-birth-in-hospital-parking-lot http://www.ijreview.com/2016/04/584090-mom-hires-photographer-to-take-pictures-of-babys-birth-only-to-realize-in-hospital-parking-lot-things-are-taking-an-unexpected-turn/ https://www.romper.com/p/woman-gives-birth-in-hospital-parking-lot-the-photos-are-truly-amazing-8888 http://www.popsugar.com/moms/Mom-Gives-Birth-Car-Photos-40951103#photo-40951105 http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/slideshow/5827/photographer-s-breathtaking-photos-capture-vbac-in-parking-lot/an-incredible-journey