No Birth Is More 'Natural' Than Another & This Video Proves It

Photos by Lei birth photography
Photos by Lei

Since last week, moms have been debating a viral text exchange between a pregnant mom and a disapproving birth photographer. The mom was reportedly told that her birth -- a scheduled C-section -- wasn't "natural" by the photographer, who then refused to document the big event. Some can't believe the exchange is real, while many others say it's all too believable, and just another example of the birth shaming we experience ALL. THE. TIME. No matter what, it's not hard to see why the birth photographer community has come together to issue a powerful response, not just to this controversy, but to the very idea that some births are more worthy than others ...

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When you get a bunch of women who have given birth in a room with a new mom or a mom-to-be, birth stories will start spilling out. It's a way of connecting, of sharing our truths. Unfortunately, all it takes is using magic words like "C-section" or "epidural," and suddenly you could be watching relationships go off the rails. 

If babies have any sense of what their moms are yakking about, what they're hearing in these birth-shaming conversations is, "Welcome to the world, little one! You're eating, you're sleeping, and you're pooping up a storm just the way you're supposed to, but now we're going to make your mom feel like crap for how she brought you into the world!" 

If you're thinking it's ridiculous, you're right ... and you're not alone.

A group of birth photographers has had it up to here with the folks who insist births should go one specific way, and they've got a message for moms out there: Your birth is beautiful, no matter what ... and as photographers, they've got your back. 

Take a peek:

Alright, we'll give you a second to clear your eyes.

I've been birth shamed plenty over the years by the sorts of moms whose strong feelings about the way women "should" welcome their children into the world are about as useful as a birth plan when the feces hit the fan in the delivery room ... which is to say "not very." Babies will be born the way babies want to be born, and the decisions about how it happens come down to the person doing the birthing and her birth provider. 

More from CafeMom: 13 Breathtaking Photos of One Mom's Unplanned, At-Home VBAC

So I reached out to Nicole Burmeister, the Virginia photographer who put the video together, to ask her a little about where it came from. 

The owner of Nicole in Bold has been a photographer for nearly a decade, but it was her own birth three years ago that made her begin chronicling births. Since then she's also become part of a vibrant community of photographers who share a focus on helping moms tell their stories, no matter what that story may be. It may be a C-section. It may be a home birth. It may include an epidural. It may come of an induction. Whatever happens, Burmeister says, "your birth is still very much worthy of being documented."

Nicole in Bold photography
Nicole in Bold

Texas photographer Leilani Rogers, one of several who contributed to the video, agrees. "Birth photography is beautiful and empowering. But where empowering women really comes from is allowing their choices to not be shamed or judged," Rogers says. "As a photographer, I remind my clients that I have no opinion on how they choose to birth or end up birthing. I believe a mother's intuition is powerful and carries through in these choices. I tell them that in this moment their birth is the most important, beautiful, perfect story I have to tell!"

Burmeister hopes moms who've been shamed for their means of birth take comfort from the video. After using her own birth photos to help work through postpartum depression, the mother of a toddler says the photos themselves often help moms work through births that didn't necessarily go according to plan. 

More from CafeMom: 15 Fascinating Photos That Celebrate the Placenta in All Its Gory Glory

"It's super healing both physically and emotionally to see everything in those photos, because life goes by so quickly," she adds. 

Indeed it does, and as your kids grow, the joke's on the birth shamers, because no one can tell which kindergartner was born at home, who was born via C-section, whose mama had an epidural!

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