Birth Photography is it's own type of photo-journalism: a documentary-style photography that evokes emotion, and tells a story. For me, these are some of my favorite emotion-driven birth images of 2017, and I beyond delighted that these families trusted me, and have allowed me to share them with you all.
Do you see how beautiful birth is, no matter how or where it happens...? The love, the relief, the joy, the connection: that's what birth is all about, and it is such an immense honor to call this my career. Enjoy!
1. The anticipation of hearing your sweet baby's first cry, their first breath of air as a new human in this world, can be so overwhelming; Tears flow. This gentle c-section was one of the best highlights of this past year. It is rare to be allowed into the O.R. here locally, and this was the first time I was ever allowed in. Such an incredible experience to be a part of, and instilled even more in me how passionate I am for BIRTH, in all its forms.
2. Transition can sometimes look like this: Peaceful, controlled, and effortless. Just moments after this image was taken, she gently birthed her baby boy into her hands, witnessed by both her older children, her loving husband, and amazing team of midwives.
3. 58 hours of hard labor, almost half of it at 8cm dilated: This is the relief from both dad and grandma when baby is finally here, skin-to-skin with mom, safe, healthy, perfect. Pure relief.
4. Sweet home birth postpartum bliss: Only an hour old, and she is already snuggled with mom in a warm bed, eating a fresh meal, and soaking in all the newness of both your body, and hers.
5. Unwavering support from this loving father, who stood by his wife's side for every moment of her 24+ hour labor and delivery. He stroked her hair, fed her food, rubbed her feet, filled her with words of Grace, and made sure she always had a sturdy body to lean on when contractions became nearly unbearable. This is holding space for someone: being there for them in mind, body, and spirit.
6. Elation; The "I did it!" moment. It happens in every birth, and it still blows me away at the power these mothers exert for their babies, and the look of relief and pure joy on their face the moment after their baby is out and in their arms.
7. Winter Bloom, only a fitting name for a day-after-Christmas baby...she was the most alert baby after birth I have ever seen. All she wanted to do was focus on mom and learn her face, at not even 30 minutes new. Absolutely incredible to witness this process of getting to know each other!
8. Exhausted and completely drained of energy, this mother sat back as her partner gently helped their minutes-old baby to her breast, for his very first latch. Now if this isn't the epitome of 'true love', I don't know what is...
9. Mom felt like she needed to be in the bathroom, so I followed them (normally I would never do this, but instinct kicked in, and knew from the way she walked there and the noises she was making, that I needed to be close outside). So glad I did! I jumped on the bath tub in this tiny bathroom, and snapped the most wonderful free birth, right into dad's welcoming hands.
10. SO many things to love about this image: Skin-to-skin with daddy (who has this obvious look of falling in love again on his face), big sister smooches, a little postpartum belly on mama, and smiles all-around.
11. The support from both Birth Doula and partner was steadfast and enduring for this mother, as she journeyed through a fast and hard labor; This is the look of giving IN, not giving UP.
12. The Placenta: the life-giver, ultimate nourisher, connector; Our first home. This is an organ that we grow inside our body in order to grow another body...we then expel this organ, which in turn cues your body to continue nourishing another body (breastmilk). The placenta's functionality will forever amaze and fascinate me in every way...!
13. Vernix, also known as 'Birthday Frosting' or 'Cheese Baby', this white oil-based substance plays quite the incredible role in birth: Regulating body temperature, protecting the delicate newborn skin and keeping it moisturized, and aids with delivery as a naturally-occurring lubricant. Science shows many benefits to rubbing it IN, instead of OFF your newborn's skin!
14. The first latch is a learning moment for both mom and baby, and one that can be somewhat awkward at first. These two made the breast crawl and latch look so easy! And after such a long, difficult labor, this team deserved this delightful moment more than anything...
15. The furrowed brow of holding back tears, the kiss of absolute respect and pride, and a brand new baby warm on her chest: these are the moments, and all of these moments above, that make this job so fulfilling. To be able to document this moment for this much-loved family to look back on, year after year, is better than anything I could ever imagine doing.
**If you are interested in hiring a professional birth photographer and/or birth doula for your upcoming delivery, I would love to be considered for your birth team! You can reach out to me HERE for your free consultation. I so look forward to hearing from you!**
You can view more of my Birth Portfolio, as well as my Investment page here.
Natalie Bee is a Spokane, Washington-based Birth Doula and Photographer, a mother of four willings, and a PNW native.