California-based photographer Lisa Robinson-Ward specializes in weddings and portraits, but when she found out she was pregnant last year, she knew she wanted to take on a new photography challenge: shooting her own labor and delivery.
The pregnancy itself was a surprise, but a welcome one. Robinson-Ward and her husband have a 9-year-old son and had been trying for years to get pregnant again, suffering two miscarriages. They had actually decided to stop trying for another baby when Robinson-Ward became pregnant with their daughter Anora, now 6 months old.
Photographing the birth, she thought, would help her stay calm and focused, and keep her mind off the pain. “I didn’t know if I’d be able to take photos or not,” admitted Robinson-Ward. “I had my mind set on doing it, but I wasn’t sure I’d actually be able to pull it off.”
She did, and the images she captured provide a rare glimpse of childbirth. Here, she describes the incredible experience in her own words.
I had been having contractions on and off for a week, then my water broke at 3 a.m. We grabbed our things, and the camera, and got into the car to go to the hospital — thankfully it wasn’t a long drive. When we got there, I was shaking with every single contraction and at one point I thought to myself, There’s no way I’m going to be able to hold the camera.
In between contractions, I was able to take photos of what I saw around me — the IV, the monitors, stuff like that. But it was intense.
I got an epidural, and once I did I felt like I had so much more control. I was so lucky. I was in labor for 14 hours, but it didn’t seem like it at all. Time really flew, partly because I had really good pain management…
…and partly because my husband was so supportive.
asked my doctor early on, “Do you have a problem with me photographing my birth?” He was all for it. But when he came into the room and saw that I had a camera right in my face, I think he was kind of amazed [laughs].
I took pictures while I pushed! When I was ready to push, I’d bring my hands and the camera up to my face. I didn’t know what I was getting at the time, and I didn’t know if anything was going to be in focus. But it helped me focus.
Part of me worried that if I was taking photos, I was not going to really be there. But I was totally there. I was so present when she was coming out of me.
When I look back at these photos, I can remember exactly how I felt. I can relive the moment my daughter was born.
I know that I’m lucky. I had a really easy labor and delivery.
Our daughter is really easy going. She’s mellow. She sleeps! She’s a happy baby.
We had immediate skin-to-skin, and I breastfed her right away.
My mother took this one. I gave her the camera right after Anora was delivered and she started snapping away!