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Cameras in the delivery room

I came across this news article about hospitals that prohibit photos and videos in the delivery room from the Courier-Journal:

“The photo and video equipment can interfere with or be disruptive” to patients, she said. “The whole goal and purpose is to maintain patient safety.”Pam Kayrouz, director of nursing at Baptist East, said: “We allow still photography during labor and immediately after the birth. But during the actual birth we do not.”

She and her colleagues have a philosophical perspective on the issue. They want the family to be more concerned with the event taking place than the recording of it.

“If they’re not tied up taking pictures, they’re involved in that very special moment. Their bonding, their family initiation kind of begins at that time,” Kayrouz said. “When you’re in that actual moment, just experiencing the miracle of birth, the fact that you don’t have a video of it isn’t a big deal.”

Kayrouz also said no objections have been raised by patients. “It’s our policy. They know it going in, and they haven’t complained at all,” she said.

This is not the first story of this type to hit the headlines recently. With the social media era comes what appears to be an increasing trend toward tightening down parental rights when it comes to determining who can share what from their birth based solely on where the woman chooses to birth and who the staff in charge happens to be on baby’s Birth Day.

I agree with the premise that a family should be focusing on the birth and not on photography during labor. I don’t agree that a parent who is “in the moment” doesn’t miss having that experience chronicled. After all – you can’t see yourself in the moment. Your child can’t see the look on your face or his own first cry or the tear rolling down his mother’s cheek. And a Mom who is concentrating through hours of contractions certainly loses all concept of time and will have little memory of labor or birth to look back on. Many of my clients come to me very much regretting the lack of photography from previous birth experiences.

A professional birth photographer offers a solution to both the need for parents to be “in the moment” as well as the desire to chronicle the moment for themselves, their families and their newborn child. . A professional birth photographer has experience working in a wide variety of birth settings, she understands the importance of staying out of the staff’s way, she knows what to photograph and what not to photograph and she respects the staff’s position in the room. She works AROUND the staff – she does not expect the staff to work around her. A birth photographer frees both the parents and staff  to focus on nothing but the safe birth of the child. I can’t help but wonder how much more accepting a hospital might be if the person behind the camera was a professional photographer experienced in hospital birth instead of a parent caught up in the moment or an overburdened nurse asked to extend her job in yet another way?

I have an extremely high success rate when it comes to capturing hospital births in photos. I have never been asked not to photograph a delivery. I’ve been able to photograph every cesarean birth I’ve attended, to date. Part of this is because Houston is a big, competitive hospital area where parents have choices about where to give birth so hospital policy is geared slightly more toward accommodating  patients’ desires. But I also work hard to make this happen! My clients, before they are even my clients, are heavily educated on potential hospital policy conflicts and how to best insure that their ENTIRE birth is captured. I educate my clients on the importance of informing their doctors or midwives and birth team of my presence prior to their birth and including my presence in their birth plan, if they have one. I’m willing to meet with any member of the birth team prior to labor, if requested.  I work with midwives, birth center and hospitals to share my work so they understand what birth photography is about. Education and preparation are key to successfully capturing your birth in photos.

Birth photography is important and hospitals are doing their maternity clients a huge disservice by failing to recognize this. Photography helps women recreate the almost-instantly-forgotten details from their birth. It helps with bonding, particularly in complicated, medicated or cesarean births. It helps empower women to see the beauty and strength in their labors and deliveries rather than just the pain that they recall. It allows fathers a chance to see the look in their own eyes and the smile on their own face when they see their child for the first time. For children, these photos offer a glimpse into their own histories that can’t be captured later…not even 10 minutes later. Who amongst us would not wish to know the looks on our parents or siblings face the very moment they first saw us come into the world?

I have never heard of birth photography used in a litigious way. I would love to see some stats on this but I have a hard time believing such stats exist! Rather, I think hospital staff just want to control the environment as much as possible because a controlled environment is orderly and easy. Sadly, a lot of hospital policy comes down to this when it comes to labor a delivery. Don’t forget that you have a choice when it comes to deciding at which hospital you choose to give birth and what doctor or midwife will be at your side. Talk to your provider and talk to your hospital. If they frown on photography what else will they try to control or limit? What other non-medical limitations will they place on your birth experience in a desire to reduce the possibility of litigation? Let them know that professional birth photography is a priority to you and ask them how they can accommodate you.

As long as “no one complains” about these policies, as is suggested in the above article, more and more hospitals will adopt similar policies and there will be fewer and fewer options for parents who do find it important to capture their child’s birth in photographers or video.

To learn more about birth photography or to inquire about my birth photography packages and availability at your upcoming Houston area birth, please see {Fresh} Birth Photography.

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