What Your Husband Should Know About Documenting Childbirth
The big day is soon approaching; your new baby is almost here! Is your husband or significant other thinking about how best to capture the birth of your child? If you haven’t had a conversation yet about documenting your childbirth, you should put it at the top of your to-do list. There may be much more to consider than the best angles or lighting options when it comes to delivery day photography. Here are a few things that dads should know before they get behind the lens.
Having the Talk
Before the first photo is snapped, every father-to-be should talk to his expectant partner about what she wants. Like it or not, dads play a supporting role during childbirth, and they should remember that it really is all about the mother and child. Specifically, the health and safety of the expectant mother and almost newborn comes before all else. Your wife may prefer to keep it low-key and just focus on being together in the moment, or she may be comfortable with handling the hard part while you snap away. You won’t know unless you talk about it.
Addressing the Team
After your husband discusses how you feel about photography during delivery, he should get a second opinion. He may need to talk with the doctor, medical staff, and hospital to see if cameras are allowed in the delivery or operating room. More medical facilities are opting out of photography to protect the privacy of everyone involved as well as to minimize distraction and risk of infection. It would be a shame if your husband plans a photo shoot, only to have it shut down before the birth.
Outsourcing the Project
Dads should also decide what they should do while moms are in labor. Are they going to participate in any way, such as coaching their partners with breathing or relaxation? Do they plan on cutting the umbilical cord? What about surgical delivery, where they may not be comfortable with observing the procedure?
If your spouse wants to take a more active role in helping with the birth, a professional photographer may be a better option. Some photographers specialize in videography and still photography to document childbirth. They may be experienced with a hospital setting and know which images to capture to preserve the memories in a beautiful and meaningful way. If your budget allows, you may want to leave it to a professional to have the best of both worlds: a supportive, helpful father during delivery and a skilled photographer to get the best shots.
Approaching the Subject
If you and your expectant partner have decided together that you would like to take the pictures or record the birth yourself, you should make a plan. You have many choices of which photos to snap, and unless you are experienced, you may not know the best way to go about getting pictures. You can begin by researching what other people have done to get an idea of what kinds of photos are high on your list. Some popular shots that document childbirth include:
- One last shot of your wife’s baby bump
- The hospital room where your wife labors
- The clock showing the time of birth
- The moment your wife meets the baby
- The nursing staff or doctors, if they are agreeable
- Mother and child in a serene moment together
- Your baby being cleaned and weighed
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the pictures you should take. You and your wife should also discuss how to take photos while not adding to her stress. She may be sensitive to intimate photos and prefer you limit your documenting to reactions or joyful moments. Go back to your role as a supportive partner and ask before the big day to make sure you are on the same page.
Doing the Research
While you may want to ask friends how they documented childbirth or look online for ideas, you should also do a little legwork. Educate yourself about your lighting needs to get the best photos. Are you going to record the action or take still snapshots? Do you plan on using your phone camera or going old school and using a film camera? You can even ask to see a delivery room to check out the lighting and space to see what your needs may be or where you should stand to be out of the way while documenting the birth.
Here are a few tips from professionals to get you started:
- Avoid flash photography! You do not want to distract the medical team who are caring for your partner while she is in labor.
- Stick with color photos. Most photos can be edited to black and white after the moment, but you may lose some of the sharpness and contrasts if you do not photograph in color.
- Be respectful. This is not just an extremely important moment in your family’s life; it is a medical procedure with risks. Stay out of the way and let the doctors and nurses do their jobs.
Making the Movie
Here is one word about filming versus still photos during the delivery of your child. Chances are good that you do not make documentaries as a career. Make a concerted effort not to turn the delivery room into a movie set. Your wife does not want to take direction or do any retakes, especially if she is uncomfortable or stressed. Try to be as unobtrusive as possible while your baby is born and focus on what matters.
Hopefully, you and your husband can agree about which direction to take for documenting the birth of your baby. If done right, you can have images to treasure that remind you of the beauty and joy you felt the day your child arrived into this world. With a bit of sensitivity and a little planning, your husband can meet all expectations of helping with labor and capturing the special moments to make your delivery peaceful, safe, and preserved.
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