“I chose birth photography because I wanted to be able to remember the experience of giving birth.”
“I was so in my own head and body that it is amazing to see some of the moments between my husband and I – and to see the baby emerging.”
“After viewing other parents birth images, I was inspired by the beauty and emotions of the images and wanted some of my own.”
“After meeting with Natalie, I didn’t have any hesitations about her.”
“She explained the process well and answered all my questions, even ones I hadn’t thought of yet.”
“My partner was grateful to have someone else there capturing the moments. Natalie being there took pressure off of him to try to take photos.”
“He was able to support me, experience the birth, and those first bonding moments with his son more fully.”
You can read Joy’s birth story in her own words below.
Vaginal Hospital Birth • 3rd baby • 7lbs 10oz • 20 inches
Legacy Emmanuel Hospital in Portland, Oregon
To prepare for labor and birth, I thought about and shared my two birth experiences that I had and I looked at others’ birth photos and videos. I explained to my husband what I was hoping for for this birth.
This all helped me emotionally prepare for birth in advance. I don’t think it helped much during labor. Except, hearing others’ birth stories may have helped me be kinder to myself about “giving in” to the epidural.
We were scheduled to go in for induction on September 5th. I had an appointment on the 4th to check on the baby’s heart rate and to check my cervix. The night before my appointment, I was having contractions every 5-15 minutes apart until about 4 am. I was very nervous I wasn’t going to be able to drop my two older boys off for their first day of school in a new school.
The contractions spread out and I got them to school. As soon as I walked out of my 1st grader’s classroom, the contractions started up again. When I got to my appointment at 2 pm, my cervix wasn’t softened and dilated as much as they’d hoped, so they inserted a foley balloon. While hooked up to the monitor to listen to the baby’s heart, my contractions got stronger and were at about 6 minutes apart.
His heart sounded fine, so they sent me on my way. My husband and I had gotten a hotel room to avoid driving back to Portland during labor, only to turn right back around at 6:30 am. We checked into the hotel and he ordered us dinner to be delivered. My contractions continued and by 4 pm were 2-4 minutes apart. I waited the hour they recommended and called. So by 5:15, I was in the hospital in very active, painful labor.
It started earlier than I expected and progressed mush faster. This overwhelmed me and was so different than my first two births which were very long.
It was late summer and the first day of school. That affected the day for sure. I was wanting to get my boys to school before heading to the hospital and was thinking of them all day.
Active labor, contractions within the 5 minutes apart/1 minute in length, I labored 5 hours.
It’s hard to describe what contractions felt like. This labor was so much faster than my last two and the contractions were piggy backing the whole time. They were very painful but the worst part was that I got no down time between contractions to recover. Early on, my husband applied pressure to my lower back which seemed to help me get through the contractions. As labor progressed, being touched made the pain feel worse.
As I progressed through labor, I was surprised by my inability to cope through the pain. I asked for nitrous and that took the edge off slightly for a short time. A little after 7 pm (I only know these times because of the time stamps on the photos Natalie took), I started to lose strength and feel scared that I couldn’t do this. The pain was so great. The nitrous was no longer helping, all my husband could do was hold my hand, no position offered relief, every time I moved it triggered a contraction or made the current contraction more intense. I hardly knew what was going on around me.
So, at about 7:30, I surprised myself by giving into an epidural. This surprised me because I am intimidated, if not scared of, epidurals. I also so badly wanted a natural birth experience like I had with my second son.
I had my husband, my photographer and my midwife (along with hospital staff) attended my birth. My husband was very supportive and tried to help with my labor pain. My midwife explained my pain management options, suggested different positions, and encouraged me. My photographer was quiet (she asked in advance what I would like during labor and was great!) Labor progressed so quickly for me that they all did what they could. Holding, and squeezing, my husband’s hand…just having him there and feeling his support and love was the biggest blessing through every stage. Having Natalie there documenting it allowed him to just focus on me and the baby and not need to feel like he needed to be the photographer, too.
Well…this was an intense moment. The pushing stage began with a 15 member NICU trauma team quickly filtering in the room behind my midwife who looked at me and said, “Mom, we need to get this baby out now!” At that moment the attending nurse put an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth and instructed me to, “get this baby some oxygen!” Followed by my midwife’s “Push!”
I pushed for about 15 minutes with my husband holding my hand and encouraging me and the nurse and midwife coaching and encouraging me. As I pushed, I, mantra like in my head, prayed the baby would be born safely and be healthy, I prayed for strength and hoped I could do this without a C-section.
I immediately felt relief that he was here safely and love for him and my husband. I don’t know what I said when I saw him for the first time. I was so relieved he was born safely and he was healthy.
I remember my husband smiling when he first saw the baby’s head emerging and he said to me, “He’s here!” I watched his face go from concerned to a teary smile. Love and relief washed over me.
The best part was the moments right after he was born. Watching my husband hold him. Sharing this moment, this baby boy with my soulmate. Seeing OUR boy.
The only thing I didn’t like was that I wished I could have had a slower, longer labor and delivered naturally.
The start was somewhat difficult to pinpoint. We had gone to a hotel to stay the night in case it happened sooner. We were in that hotel long enough to have me get dinner, gobble it down and then Joy looked at me and said it’s time. What a crazy excitement I had. I still remember every event but can’t truly place the emotions.
Watching Joy in labor, I felt powerless. There was nothing I could do to help and that made me mad. I was mad, but I was also incredibly excited to be doing that and being there with her. All I could really think of was that at the end of this we would have a being that we created. Which was something both of us had wanted before we ever realized it.
The highs were the beginning of labor, and the end of birth. LOL. Everything in the middle of the labor was up and down. The ultimate low was having all of the nurses and NICU staff come in because they thought something was wrong with the baby. I was so terrified that something could be happening to Joy or Oren. Then all the world was right, as if that had never happened.
I couldn’t speak. There were no words I could say to really encapsulate the moment or feelings behind that event. As I held Oren I thought to myself…my god, this is him. Once again no words to describe the feelings. Then he lifted his head off my chest and I couldn’t believe how strong he was. Hindsight says of course he was strong, he is his mothers’ son.
Natalie Broders is a birth photographer, birth filmmaker and birth doula located in Portland, Oregon. She lives on a farm with her husband and 2 kids. They raise chickens and love to garden. Natalie loves babywearing, cloth diapering and is passionate about her work as an advocate for birthing people. She had one of her babies at a birth center and her second baby was born at home, in water.