Smile and Say ‘Cheese!’ You’re Giving Birth

By ABC News

Jul 12, 2012 6:42am

ABC News’ Bianna Golodryga and Natasha Singh report:

From water births to home births to C-sections and epidurals, the options available to women today for how to deliver their babies are endless.

Now there is another option to add to that list, birth photography.  This option, like none before, is opening the doors to  a once closely guarded, behind-closed-doors event for the doctors and the parents only.

Maggie Lehnerd-Reilly, a Connecticut mother of three, is part of a new surge of moms-to-be hiring birth photographers to capture not just the very first moments their new baby enters the world but also the hours of labor beforehand.

“The reason I decided to hire a photographer is that pregnancy and childhood have been really life-shaping for me,” she told “Good Morning America.”  “I really wanted to find ways to celebrate birth.”

Lehnerd-Reilly hired Nicole Taylor, a photographer with her own eponymous studio, to shoot the delivery of her now 16-month-old son, Oscar, and invited Taylor back into the delivery room to capture the birth to her third child this month.

“For me, it’s like taking pictures at a wedding,” she said.  “It’s like a really cool life event and one of the things that seemed really important to me was having beautiful pictures of this kind of amazing experience.”

Taylor, who photographs moms in the Connecticut, New Jersey and New York area, got into the business of photographing births after she hired as a photographer to shoot the delivery of her own children and realized there was a market for the so-called ‘babyrazzis.”

“It’s one of the most amazing, miraculous events that you can be a part of, to be birthing or to be capturing that moment,” Taylor said.

The demand for birth photography has exploded so much in recent years that the career path now has its own association, the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers , with roughly 400 members, according to the New York Times.

For birth photographers, the unpredictable nature of pregnancies transforms them into veritable doctors, always on call for the actual call.

“I put myself on call two weeks before the due date,” Taylor said.  “I make sure I have somebody on hand if I need help with my kids or if I have to go in the middle of the night.”

While popular, birth photography may not be for everyone, both Taylor and Lehnerd-Reilly admit.  First, the very personal pictures also come with a hefty price tag.  Rates for a delivery session with a professional photographer can run as high as $3,500.

There is also the consideration that the birthing process itself is messy and not something every new mom, or even dad, wants to invite an outsider to be a part of.

“It’s not something you’re required to do or have to do it,” Taylor said.  “It is an intimate moment and that, for some people, it is a private moment is completely understandable.”

Lehnerd-Reilly says, in her experience, the opportunity to have the births of her children documented tops all else.

“I am super squeamish about all the yucky-ness that happens at birth and have no interest in seeing it,” she said.  “But I wanted to see my husband meeting our baby for the first time and me meeting our baby for the first time.”

“For me, birth just doesn’t happen to the mother,” she said.  “I’m becoming a mother.  My husband is becoming a father and our parents are becoming grandparents.  All of that should be represented in the story.”

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