Saturday, November 11, 2017

Why You Should Capture and Document Your Birth

Having the honor and privilege to be invited into my clients lives to capture one of their most intimate moments is an opportunity I do not take lightly.  During my own labor, my husband was able to film the entire process with a helmet cam and I know many times I looked up at that thing and wished it was not on.  I said some things that are now memorialized that I probably will not ever want my son to hear.  Labor gets uncomfortable, frustrating, disappointing, and sometimes ugly.  But ultimately it is triumphantly beautiful.  My own birth video does not have the best angles, the sound could be better, both my husband and I are never in it together, but what it does have that could never be replaced is the exact moment my son entered the world from my husband's point of view, gently being guided into this world in his daddy's hands: absolutely priceless.

Prior to becoming a mom, I was a professional filmmaker and freelance documentarian, filming a wide array of projects over the years. But once my son was born, I knew that if I was going to leave him in someone else's care, there had to be good justifiable reason to do so. That was when I redirected my focus to birth, newborn, and family videography, helping parents without the knowledge or equipment to professionally memorialize these moments that they can never get back.  I make it my mission to help others to understand why it is important to capture birth and share some of the best ways to do so.

Being able to edit others' birth videos, I realized even more how special that instant is when parents meet their child for the very first time.  Even the first moment after a C-section birth is nothing less than amazing.  Before our children are born,  we spend so much time thinking about what they will be like, who they will look like, how our family dynamic is going to change, what they'll be when they grow up...but all of those thoughts dissipate in that instant when we hear our baby cry or finally have our child in our arms, all we want to do is just be in that moment and experience a loving connection for the very first time. You will never be able to know what that moment looks like from the outside, unless it is captured on film. And being able to look back on photos or videos of that moment you will actually be able to relive that emotion again and again. Another amazing sentiment that needs to be captured is the triumph of completing the daunting marathon that is birth. Labor is no easy task on the body, so once it is completed, the rush of positive emotion that runs through the room is palpable for all and comes through in video and photos.

As important as it is to capture the moment baby joins the world, the hours of labor prior to the big event are definitely extremely special as well.  The breaks between the surges or contractions are filled with such emotion, both positive and negative.  The positive ones are important to capture in order to remember how strong a mother truly is. The negative ones are just as important because the final triumphant result is proof of how much a mother overcomes bringing a child into this world. Whether someone has taken a birth class or not, nothing can compare to actually experiencing labor. Preparation and practice does definitely help, there's no question about that. But how a woman gets through those difficult moments truly is a testament to how strong she really is. Being able to look back and see yourself hitting a wall but then pushing through it can inspire you long afterwards in many other facets of life. Capturing images of a mother in labor and her support team can be some of the most beautiful images to look back on.  A birth support team can provide such strength and motivation to a mother and those images will forever be a reminder of the love surrounding the day baby joined the world.

One of the easiest ways to capture and document your birth would be to hire a professional filmmaker and/or photographer. I am obviously partial to video because of my ability to capture words and sentiment in each moment, however some photos that birth photographers take need no caption to explain what is going on at that instant.  Another option is the hire a doula who can take photos and or video.  The downside to this is that the time she spends taking photos and or video will be time taken away from supporting you in your birth.  I definitely discourage having a birth partner capture these moments, unless they can do so passively like my husband did with a helmet cam Another option would be to have an additional friend or family member documenting, however as they are not a professional, they do not know what to expect and cannot always anticipate the moments you will want captured.  Finally, another option would be to set up a camera in the corner of the room and just let it record.  You may not end up with the best angle for a lot of the time, but at least you'll have something to remember the moment by.  Keep in mind that if you are having a hospital birth, you will have to get clearance to have someone else in the room filming and/or photographing prior to hiring someone. Different hospitals have different rules and you will need to respect them.

Professional photographers and videographers are an expected hire for milestone events, yet birth isn't usually considered one of them.  But what is more life altering and a greater milestone than bringing another life into this world?  The details of this once in a lifetime event will fade faster than you can imagine and there are no do-overs. It is so much better to have it and not watch it, than it will be to wish you had captured it after the fact.