The year 2020 started like most others. I attended births in January and February; things were normal, birth was birth. Then March came, and the pandemic hit.
I attended one last hospital birth just two days before everything locked down here in Michigan. Even during that final March birth, things felt normal. I had NO idea that in literally two days, I wouldn’t be able to step foot into another hospital for months!
Two days later, though, that hospital stopped allowing a second person into the room. Some hospitals even stopped allowing partners. Here in Michigan, birth workers quickly created a petition to allow birth doulas into hospitals to support birthing families. Our governor signed it, and some hospitals started allowing doulas back in. But not all of them.
As an already established certified doula and birth photographer, I was allowed to do my job in some hospital locations, but at others, I could not. Birth photographers and doulas across the world quickly adapted to support their clients in every way possible. We handed our cameras to partners and gave them tutorials on how to photograph their own birth, some of us offered facetime phone photos, others offered virtual doula support, we scheduled ‘Coming Home Sessions’ to document the transition from hospital to home with a new baby, and so much more. Birth photographers supported their clients in many new ways.
Clients reached out to us in tears when their visions for their birth diminished before them. Fear, real fear, about the unknowns of their birth plan, potentially getting sick, the virus and how that would affect them, their baby, their birth, everything! It was a lot.
Many of us are parents, and we juggled virtual school with our kids while working, editing, supporting clients, and more. We multi-tasked and did our best, just like everyone else around the world.
We all faced the uncertainty together as birth workers; we leaned into these challenges as a community and came up with solutions for our businesses and our clients. Many of us worked through the pandemic, while others made the difficult decision to step away from birth or begin offering virtual support. Many in our community chose to certify as doulas to support their clients further.
Monet and I received countless emails and messages with questions about how our community can continue to support clients, refund properly, and keep businesses afloat. We continued to help and support our community because telling birth stories isn’t going anywhere! The birth stories that we tell are even more important and sacred than before.
In the past, we’ve had annual photo competitions where photographers in the international birth community submitted their best work of the year. These images were judged professionally and shared worldwide. This year, we held an Image Celebration instead. Members of our online community submitted photos for our FB group to collectively vote on. We received so many incredible submissions, and we loved seeing the community and support that came once it was time to vote and comment on the images. The collection you see here was determined by popular votes within the Birth Becomes You community. While we still wanted to honor the births documented during this unique period, it was also vitally important that we hold space for those births that weren’t documented/supported because of the pandemic. Instead of having a “competition”, we’ve put together a collection of images that are unlike any that we’ve ever seen before. This is a year that none of us will ever forget, and regardless of what our stories were, we all went through this pandemic together.