"She's here! Take your baby! She's here! Oh Momma! She's beautiful!"
Mom is on her her knees, hair damp with sweat and stuck across her forehead and cheeks, mouth open catching her breath, she's shaking. "Huahhhhh." The sigh of relief, sometimes disbelief. Her eyes closed, she is still inward. Her hands have not yet reached out to hold her baby.
It's not time yet. She needs a minute. A moment. A few grounding breaths.
Inhale. Exhale. Eyes closed.
She rests her head back.
Another long sigh.
Her eyes open slowly. It's as if she's come back from somewhere else. Her hands come up from her sides. She looks for her baby and reaches toward her.
She explores her newborn slowly. Maybe she smiles. Maybe she falls into quiet tears.
She sees her infant - fresh, warm, quiet.
It's just them. Mom and Baby.
The Birth Pause.
A few months ago I attended my doula training with Mother Wit Doula Training in Ottawa. At one point, Lesley brought up the birth pause. I don't remember how it came up - but I will never forget when she began to talk about it. You know when everything around you goes really quiet and all you can hear is someone's voice and all you can do is watch their actions?
Well, that happened. I knew exactly what she was talking about. I had seen it so many times. It just never had a name - a space to have a name...because sometimes Mom is rushed to hold her baby, to look at her baby. But it's there - that moment, that pause-I had seen it. After Lesley stopped talking, my soul settled a little bit more - deeper...I had a deeper understanding of birth.
My mind went back to births I had photographed. I had the images. I had photographed it so many times and it never had a name until now.
Imagine if we were given time to pause and gather ourselves after baby is born? What if we were given a few moments to settle in? I've noticed - women take this time anyway - baby in arms. She will rest, breathe, take interlude...and then she will open her eyes and look around. Often women will describe these moments when they see their photos - as exactly what Lesley described above, but in their own words.
As a birth photographer, this only deepens my reverence for the birth space. I need to be careful in every sense of the word. I want to be sensitive of the camera clicks and sounds and be sure to continue to hold space for these important events that happen AFTER baby has arrived.
I took the doula training to gain a deeper relationship with birth, and my own experiences at births and this was one of the most moving parts of the course. It has slowed me down even more when I'm behind the lens. Now when I see it - I know what to call it.
The birth pause.