24/02/2014 07:58 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

One Born Every Minute: Should You Film Or Photograph The Birth Of Your Child?

Should you film or photograph the birth of your child?Getty

Given that the majority of women dread having their photograph taken even when they're looking glam and gorgeous, I find it hard to understand why business is booming for professional birth photographers.

Like most crazy-sounding ideas, this one has come to us from across the pond where The International Association of Professional Birth Photographers has attracted 400 members since it was founded in 2010.

According to the New York Times, birth photographers are becoming just as popular as wedding photographers, with some mums-to-be booking a snapper before they have even announced their pregnancy.

In some hospitals, rules prevent photographers from entering the delivery room - which means they are only able to take 'before' and 'after' pics.

But others allow full access, which means close-up shots of your baby entering the world.

Of course, the idea of capturing the moment of birth is nothing new. We've all heard of dads who have taken a camera or camcorder into the labour ward and clicked away at every contraction. But this means that that they are effectively viewing the whole experience through a lens, and aren't able to hold their partner's hand because they're too busy composing the perfect shot.

So while I can understand that there are advantages to paying someone else to do it - especially a professional who isn't likely to put their finger over the lens, take blurry shots or pass out at the crucial moment - I still struggle to understand why anyone would actually want pictures or video recordings of their labour.


I've seen enough episodes of One Born Every Minute to know that no women looks her best when she's 10cm dilated.


It took me years to get over the horror of being shown graphic childbirth films at school and, when my daughter was born, it was a revelation to discover that giving birth really isn't as bad as it looks. I'm sure that's partly because, when you're the one in labour, you can't see what's happening at the business end.

Why else do you think doctors erect that little curtain before performing a caesarean?


That's not to say that I don't understand the need to document the birth. That's why we have pictures of our daughter that were taken minutes after her birth, and a couple of me looking like I've just run a marathon in my nightie.


Yes, they would probably be more flattering if they had been taken by a professional, but that moment was just about the three of us, and I wouldn't have wanted a paid photographer to share it.

More to the point, I don't feel that any of us have missed out because there's no photograph that shows me pushing her out.

I mean, what would you do with those photographs? Who would you show them to?

Your friends? Your parents? Your child?

While a childbirth video or photographs might add a personal touch to the 'birds and the bees' talk that you'll eventually need to have, I'm pretty sure that most children or teenagers would be horrified by photographs which show them emerging from their mother's vagina.

So why take the pictures in the first place?

"I wanted to have a photographer present at my birth because I'd invested so much into making sure it was a lovely experience," says Catherine Woods, a writer from South London.


It felt like the most important day of my life, so I'm happy that we captured that moment forever.


Surprisingly, Catherine says that she didn't feel at all self-conscious and wasn't even aware of the photographer during her birth.

"I gave birth on a birthing stool and there are close-up shots of my daughter crowning - so the photographer must have been on the floor by feet. Thankfully I have no recollection of that!"

So where are the photographs now?

"They are in a little album, inside a shoebox, in the back of a cupboard, where no one can find them! I would never display them, but I do like to look at them quite often and I'm glad that I have them as my memories of the birth itself are quite hazy.

"I'd show them to friends if they asked to see them and I'll definitely show them to my daughter when she's older, although I expect she'll say 'oh no, no way!' when I tell her about them."

So provided that you don't have a blown-up shot of the final push hanging above your mantlepiece, maybe birth photographs are simply a great way to remind yourself of how strong and capable you can be.

And when your teenager tells you - as one day they almost certainly will - that you're a terrible mother who never does anything for them, at least you'll have indisputable photographic evidence to the contrary.

Did you record the birth or very soon after? Are you pleased you did?

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