I have chosen these two images to submit forward to the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers annual photo competition. The theme of my entries is ‘DIY Birth.’
The first image is submitted under the “Details” category and is of a cord burning ceremony. This image is special to me because it was the first cord burning I have ever photographed, and I was able to use a beautiful piece of pottery hand-thrown just for the purpose of cord burning, which I won from my placenta encapsulation certifying body, APPA.
The moment itself was also special, because for the first time, I missed the birth of this child by 30 minutes after having been called out just 1 hour before- when I entered the home, my client was still sitting on the blanket she birthed on in the middle of her front room, placenta still in situ, and the midwife wasn’t there yet either. The baby’s father had laid the blanket down just in the nick of time and made the catch, and then answered the door. Legend!
Cord burning is a way to honor the separation of mother and child in a mindful way. It takes about ten minutes, and is done by holding two candles up to the cord while twisting and pulling, with a bowl or box or plate to catch the wax and shield the baby from the heat. In this way the cord is cauterized and needs no clamping or tying.
The second image is right in-your-face, no pun intended. In the “Birth” category obviously.
That is my hand there you see in the corner, poised to make the catch. When I arrived to the house, a little curl of this baby’s white hair was already visible, and the mother was laboring just so comfortably that she had no idea she was about to birth. We decided on keeping the last moments of the birth calm and sacred rather than panicking and fumbling with a phone to get a midwife or the ambulance to come out, so it was decided that I’d preside over the birth. At the last minute, she changed positions and the father was able to receive the baby into his hands, which is what I had been hoping would happen for this family all along. Everything happened as it was supposed to. I was just proud of myself that I thought to take a picture in that moment!
There is lots more to write about each of these births, but now thousands, maybe millions, of people get just a peek into these births too.
I didn’t submit to this competition last year and regretted it; even though there are around 600 entries from all the industry leaders to compete with, just knowing that the following people will lay eyes on two of my images made during some of my unforgettable moments of 2016 is thrilling enough:
Ricki Lake, Actress, Producer & Emmy Award winning Host.
Abby Epstein, Producer and Director of The Business of Being Born
Catherine Pearson, Women & Parents Senior Reporter, The Huffington Post
Penny Simkin, Birth Educator, Counselor and Author. Co-founder of DONA International and PATTCh
Jan Tritten, founder and editor-in-chief of Midwifery Today Magazine
Peggy Vincent, Midwife and Author of author Baby Catcher, Midwife: A Calling and Midwife: A Journey
Stuart Fischbein, OBGYN, Author and Birth Activist specializing in breech, twin and VBAC births
Lena Hyde, Photographer, Creator Design Aglow
Kristen Lewis, Photojournalist & Mentor
Darren Mattock, Founder of Becoming Dad
Dawn Thompson, Founder and President of Improving Birth, an advocacy organization
Molly Flanagan, Photographer and Founder of The Define School for photographers
Peggy O’Mara, Editor and Publisher of peggyomara.com and former owner of Mothering Magazine
Jenna Shouldice, Photographer specializing in women’s issues
Rebecca Dekker, Founder Evidence Based Birth
Twyla Jones, Photographer
Heather Dessinger, founder of Mommypotamus.com
Michele Anderson, Photographer
Jill Krause, Founder of Baby Rabies
Christina Beckett, Photographer
Marijke Thoen, Photographer and 2016 grand prize winner in the IAPBP photo contest
Lyndsay Stradtner, founder of the IAPBP, Mentor and Birth Photographer