2020 was undoubtably the weirdest year I have experienced as a birth photogrpaher. I learned a lot about perseverance, learning to accept “plan B,” and letting go of things that just can’t change. A lot of pregnant people found themselves under supported. Women went to appointments alone, only to be unsupported when they discovered their babies no longer had heartbeats. Women went into labor without their partners present. They wore masks through heavy breathing, while pushing out their babies. They were denied support from doulas, friends, family, etc. Siblings haven’t been allowed in hospitals to meet their baby brother or sister.
Ultimately, birth workers had to adjust their approach and find new, innovative ways to support their clients. With the vaccine finally being administered, I am hoping that this opens up more opportunity for support and love. This pandemic has proved to be isolating and that’s something I find especially hard for someone who is pregnant or postpartum.
I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to support and document a few births in hospitals this year, but there were a lot that I was unable to attend as well. It hurts my heart to know that there are so many birthing families that are being left under-supported during one of the most important events in their life. Beyond that, they’re birthing in a pandemic which is likely a major stressor in their life.
Birth photography has looked quite different this last year. Most of my clients have been home birth or birth center clients, where they’re able to choose the people that will be there to support them. I’ve seen a much higher rate of clients who’ve actually switched from hospital birth to home birth when they’ve been told they need to limit their guests to one guest (which typically means the partner). Beyond that, birth photographers have had to get creative. I’ve met clients at their home to document labor before they’ve left to the hospital and handed my camera off to dad with settings set and hoped for the best. I’ve had clients take photos and videos on their phones to be compiled into videos later. I’ve even seen videographers go in and set up two cameras on tripods in order to document as much of the birth as possible.
In a time where the unknown is to be expected, I commend those parents who are pushing through. I hope the current situation only continues to improve and women and birthing people can get the support and love they desperately deserve and need!