London Birth Photographer | The Healing Art of Birth Photography
In support of Birth Trauma Awareness Week 2019. Awareness Week 2019 will run from 7 July to 14 July 2019.
Why do we have such extraordinarily powerful emotional responses toward the images and pictures we see?
We are very visual creatures. We construct perceptions of the world around us. A large percentage of the human brain dedicates itself to visual processing. Images are able to grab our attention and evoke emotion easily; we are immediately drawn to them. Vision senses are by far our most active of the senses.
50% of your brain is involved in visual processing (4)
70% of all your sensory receptors are in your eyes (5)
We can get the sense of a visual scene in less than 1/10 of a second (6)
Photography and Healing Trauma
When we experience trauma, our brains can shut down as a protective coping mechanism and often when we try to access our traumatic memories, they can feel incomplete or a mish mash of jumbled sights, sounds, smells and emotions. This can leave you feeling very disorientated, overwhelmed and unable to fully process your experience. A traumatic birth experience can lead to symptoms of PTSD: Flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, avoiding anything that reminds you, feeling on edge, low or numb.
Often traumatic memories can be very overwhelming and talking about the trauma can retraumatise us further. Sometimes a photo or an image can help us find all the words we need when we have none. Photography transcends language.
Photography can provide an opportunity for accessing, exploring, and communicating about feelings and memories – many of which we may not be fully conscious of. Photography can create a bridge between our conscious and unconscious, our internal and external worlds. Photography allows us to take a moment and contain it, objectify it. This creates a safe distance, puts it at arm’s length and gives us a sense of perspective and control.
Images help educate. Images help tell a story. Visual memories stay with us and we have the power to recollect them in any setting. In some cases, the images we recall are not always pleasant or comfortable but in time and in practicing mindfulness we can learn to process and release the difficult emotions these images bring up or replace them with images that bring us peace or comfort. Contemplating these positive restorative images can help heal birth trauma, integrate our traumatic experiences, rebuild new emotional pathways and reduce the power our emotional triggers have over us.
Photography and the visual arts can be therapeutic in everyday life. In this disconnected world they deepen our ability to connect with one another and explore together the emotions images evoke in us. Thus, Enabling a dialogue between ourselves and others. In our sharing we empower and awaken others, creating relationships, building trust and combating the epidemic of isolation and suffering.
We are wired for connection; we are social creatures by nature and especially in parenthood we need a village to thrive. A nurturing support network, the bonds of shared experiences and friendships.
Photography is a story telling narrative, it helps us tell our stories and share them with others which can have a cathartic and healing effect. Photographs link us to our memories, our sense of self and others and the world we live in. In pictures we can create a new reality.
The healing art of birth photography
Through birth photography we can learn much about the human experience of birth and of being born. An experience that touches us all and yet is otherwise obscure and hidden or catastrophised in everyday ordinary life.
Birth photography can assist you in healing birth trauma. It can help you reframe your experience and help you process your experience of giving birth. It can give you a visual debrief to aid in talking through the experience and piecing together those blurry fragments & tiny details you didn’t register in the moment.
It can assist victims of obstetric abuse in feeling empowered and in control of their birth experiences. Help them take back their power, reclaim their birth stories and provide them with visual proof and validation of their birth experience.
Birth can also be a rebirth of you, a child is born and so equally are you also reborn in that moment. Feeling in control of your birth experience leads to confidence in other areas of your life and aids you in an easier transition to motherhood.
Birth photography is a celebration of all births. In the hospital or at home, a planned C-section or unmedicated water birth — however it happens, birth is remarkable, and it deserves to be celebrated!
The experience can be just as affirming and validating even if your birth doesn’t completely go to plan. Birth photography can help you make sense of your experiences and process them, integrate them. Help you put the pieces of your story together, make it whole and true.
Birth photography takes an unreal life changing moment and freezes it in time, making an otherworldly experience into something tangible, gifting you the opportunity to visualise your sacredness, your beauty, your power.
Birth photography can help you rediscover a love for your body. Shifting your perspective to one of celebration and recognition at the miracle you have performed. Giving you a newfound appreciation of exactly what your amazing body is capable of.
It can also be utilised as an amazing visual therapeutic healing and empowering tool during post-partum. Looking back through your beautiful birth photo’s will get your Oxytocin flowing and aid in supporting you in your transition to motherhood and bonding with your baby.
When you hire a birth photographer you gain another member on your birth team…
Your Birth Photographer is another person on your side, another person to advocate for you, another person to root for you, another person to gently encourage you. Your Birth photographer will care about you and will care about the outcome of your birth.
To those of you reading this who are currently struggling with any birth related trauma I truly wish you comfort and healing. There is no shame in the emotions you are experiencing, and you deserve to feel whole again.
You can find further support and information around Birth Trauma here:
5/4 Merieb, E. N. & Hoehn, K. (2007). Human Anatomy & Physiology 7th Edition, Pearson International Edition.
6 Publications. Semetko, H. & Scammell, M. (2012). The SAGE Handbook of Political Communication, SAGE