We sat down with Jennifer Norrick this month to learn more about maternity, birth, and newborn photography.
BHBBC: Tell us a little about yourself?
Jennifer: I'm an Air Force spouse (my husband, Curtis, is retired after 20 years). I've been married for almost 21 years, am a mom of 3 (Chloe - 20, Blayne - 18, Olivia - 16), we have lots of fur babies and have lived here my husband's entire Air Force career. I was a Family Child Care Provider licensed through the Air Force for 11 years and have been working with kids from birth on for a really long time. I love spending time with my family, traveling, the ocean, coffee, reading, and my camera. My camera is my favorite thing in the world, after my family. I shoot with a Canon 6D Mark II or my back up camera, a Canon 5D Mark II. My favorite lenses are by Sigma; the 35mm 1.4 Art and the 24-70mm 2.8 Art. They are phenomenal!
BHBBC: What made you decide to pursue photography?
Jennifer: I've been taking pictures since I was a teenager. I'm an Army brat myself. I think moving from base to base, making new friends and new memories so often, photography has always been a way to take those memories with me everywhere I go! As for officially opening a photography business and transitioning to photography full time, it was a way for me to combine my love of the craft and babies after all my daycare babies moved away. It was time to close the daycare. My kids are grown and it was the best time to start a new adventure.
BHBBC: Why maternity, birth, and newborn?
Jennifer: I actually started by just shooting any genre when my business first opened. I quickly figured out which sessions weren't my favorite. Maternity, Birth, and Newborn just go together and I think these are some of life's most important events that should be documented. I love working with babies and capturing the details. Their toes, the fingers, their nose, lips, eyelashes. I think that's a huge part of why I have niched down to Maternity, Birth, and Newborn photography.
BHBBC: What could someone expect with you as their birth photographer?
Jennifer: I like to get to know my clients. You have to be comfortable with me as much as I have to be comfortable with you. Being allowed into a momma's labor room is an honor and I want her to have the most amazing birth possible. I capture everything that goes on from laboring, to the machines in the room, to emotions, and of course the delivery. But, I also stay for up to 2 hours after for skin to skin and baby's first's. I try to adapt to the atmosphere in the room. There are times where mom is just not up to chatting. That's when I try to just stand back and document what's going on. But, I have been know to throw her hair in a pony tail for her, grab dinner, or hold her leg on the opposite side of dad if necessary. The goal is a healthy mom and baby. So I'd like to think that someone can expect me to become a friend that will capture some of the most important moments of their life for them, as their birth photographer.
BHBBC: Why might someone choose to have their birth photographed?
Jennifer: I think the most important reason someone would choose to have their birth photographed is to capture amazing memories and milestones. But to actually go into labor and know that you need not worry about anything being missed and that your partner can devote their full attention to your needs is priceless! They don't have to be bothered with remembering to take pictures as much as you don't have to worry that they forgot to take a picture of something that's important to you. Not to mention, when you're in the moment and laboring, sometimes you forget that some things have even happened. I've had many moms tell me afterward that they don't remember this or that.
BHBBC: What is your favorite part about birth photography?
Jennifer: The moment that parents first lay eyes on their brand new little! Hands down.
BHBBC: What is something that a lot of people don't know about being a birth photographer?
Jennifer: I think the biggest thing that a lot of people don't know about birth photographers is that we're not just there to shoot your "birth" alongside your doctor and capture what many call the "money shots". Yes, we capture the delivery. But to be honest, my place is usually at the head of the bed, in my own little corner.
I want to always be out of the way of the staff so that they can do their job. Clients and I have a consultation in which we discuss what type of images they want me to capture. There are some that want the entire actual delivery captured. There are some that are only comfortable with me capturing their delivery from my spot at the head of the bed. It's all based on what the mom is comfortable with. But, most people's reaction is: "OMG, why would you want someone photographing that?" Well I capture the atmosphere, emotions, all the details that tell the story of baby's arrival; not just the delivery.
BHBBC: What could parents expect in a newborn session?
Jennifer: I love newborn sessions and there is a lot of work that goes into a newborn session that parents don't see. All the prep work for the prop set ups, keeping the studio safe and clean are just a few things before you ever arrive on session day. I send clients a prep guide PDF when they book with me so they know a little bit about what to expect and what I need for them to do before their arrival at the studio. My newborn sessions typically last about 2-3 hours. But really, the baby dictates how long the session lasts. I need the baby to be good and sleepy if possible. Patience is huge when working with newborns.
One of the most important things parents can expect during my newborn sessions is that I have an assistant. The assistant is there to help me and keep hands on baby at all times. Safety is number 1!!! If my assistant is unavailable the day of the session, parents get a crash course in assisting me. I don't offer any poses that the baby cannot maintain themselves. That is what we call natural newborn posing. I don't prop chins on baby fists and poses like that. It's a personal choice and I just prefer to let them do their own thing. If baby gets hungry while we're shooting, we take a break and let them eat. If they need a cuddle, we take a break and let them cuddle. The baby dictates the session. I keep the room nice and warm to where they are comfortable being naked. Depending on the choice of session, we include some parent and sibling shots as well. In the end, I want the family to be happy with the experience they've had with me
BHBBC: What sets you apart from the other newborn photographers in the area?
Jennifer: Me. There are so many phenomenal newborn photographers in our area. We all have our own style and way of doing things. In the end, I would like to think that my work and personality sets me apart from others. I have a safety certification and a qualified newborn photographer certification through the APNPI ( Accredited Professional Newborn Photographers International). I think too, something that I can offer potential clients is my experience with babies and children after years of being a daycare provider as well as a mom myself. In the end it all comes down to what the client likes. I want them to be happy with their images and even if I have experience and safety certifications, they have to relate and click with me and love my work, in order to want to work with me.
BHBBC: How can someone reach out if they have questions or want to book with you?
Jennifer: For any questions or to book with me, people can check out my website (the get in touch tab will get you to my email or phone). I'm also on Facebook and Instagram. I'm always up for coffee and love to meet with people to answer questions in person!
Thank you so much Jennifer for taking the time to answer our questions! A photographer and a doula are great additions to your birth team! Take advantage now of a 10% off discount on both services when you book a birth story package with Jennifer and doula services with Mallory! Mention this discount at time of booking!
The age-old question of what to wear rears its head again, this time for labor. You actually do have options besides the hospital gown. Let's talk about this for a bit before deciding...
Years ago, I heard it said that a vaginal exam doesn't need to be performed to tell how far dilated a woman is. You can judge by the amount of clothes she is wearing. If she's about to push a baby out, there's a good chance she's naked! I believe this to be fairly accurate in an unmedicated labor. This won't be the case if you have an epidural, however, but don't let that scare you out of an epidural-free labor!
Is a gown necessary?
Let's be honest. Clothing can be irritating during labor. Even tipping your head back to drink from a regular glass is often too much effort. Give the lady a straw! So clothing rubbing against your skin when you are experiencing so many other sensations can overwhelm a mom who is moving around in labor. Understanding that nurses are used to women laboring naked can put your mind at ease. Everyone knows the gown is there and can be utilized at any time, but you are not obligated to use it.
Some women have a hard time believing they won't care about modesty in labor and take comfort in purchasing something special to labor in. If this plays into your emotional relaxation, by all means! There are a number of companies that sell clothing meant for labor and birth. For example, this dress from Motherhood is functional and cute. This labor gown on Amazon is also cute - a little more formal - and about half the price!
Yay or Nay on the labor gown? Consider the following:
* The entire front of the gown can be shifted or easily removed to have baby placed on belly AND breasts. You have no idea how long the umbilical cord will be, and you may not get much more immediate skin-to-skin than on the belly. All that fluid and goo is good to actually be on you, not your gown! Where is the gown during pushing? Seriously, you are all exposed when you are pushing your baby out. No one but you cares about that gown. What's the purpose of the gown at that point? And I'm telling you - it's in the way when you have your baby. Hold your baby skin-to-skin and have a blanket over the two of you, not something between the two of you!
* Length of the gown. If the gown is too long, it really will be in the way. Even the rustle of it around your knees will likely irritate you during labor. If you are kneeling on a birth ball or spend time on hands and knees (which most moms without an epidural do), a long "sagging" dress will very likely be annoying.
* The gown may be in the way with the monitors, when going to the bathroom, and getting in and out of the shower/tub. Sometimes women feel like they spent the money on it, so by golly, they are going to wear it! Trust me, if something isn't working during labor, toss it aside and move on! If you need to spend a fair amount of time walking the halls in labor, by all means, put it back on.
* Why do you feel you need a gown? You might really ponder this question. Do you trust your birth team? Are you comfortable with them? Labor is a unique time in your life. It is a primal activity and the thinking part of your brain can get in the way.
* A bikini top may be what you need. It gives enough coverage on the top and can be easily removed when you are pushing your baby out so you are sure to have immediate skin-to-skin with your fresh baby. Here are a number of samples of birthing skirts in case you want to cover the bottom. I do like these better than the gowns because they are not in the way like the gowns are. Plus, who doesn't love to show off their baby belly before it disappears?
Ultimately, this is your decision. I encourage you to consider your options and be thoughtful as you make the decision about what to wear (or not wear) in labor. What did I do during my unmedicated births? I wore nothing! I found clothing to be incredibly irritating and distracting. I kept the room and bathroom warm. I trusted my birth teams. I was confident in my body (regardless of how much weight I had gained) and what it was doing.
I am a proponent of taking lots of pictures of labor/birth-day. My pictures and videos were special to me. Of course, there was no Facebook when I was having babies so I wasn't concerned with showing them to anyone. Whatever your decision, remember, immediate skin-to-skin is so important. Important enough to plan your entire outfit around it!
\BHBBC: Was this your first pregnancy
Samantha: Actually my 3rd!
BHBBC: What type of birth were you hoping for? How did you prepare? Did you take a class?
Samantha: I was hoping for a non medicated all natural delivery.. I read up/watched alot of youtube. And recieved awesome informative advise from my Doula Mallory.
BHBBC: How did labor begin? How many weeks were you?
Samantha: I was awoken at around 3am with slight cramps, but I just knew it was that time! I was 39 weeks that day. And was actually scheduled for labor that morning!
BHBBC: What did contractions feel like?
Samantha: Honestly like bad menstrual cramps
BHBBC: What did you do during your labor?
Samantha: I used a birth ball and had my doula and husband message my back cramps with tennis balls. Seriously best thing ever!!
BHBBC: Tell us about your birth team. Did you have a doula?
Samantha: I did have a doula, Mallory! She was awesome, she made the environment so calming/relaxing. I wasn't anxious or scared like my previous labors. I wish I could have had her there for my other two! Highly highly recommend.
BHBBC: What did you think about during labor? Was certain imagery helpful? What helped you cope?
Samantha: Well it was my first time not having pitocin, so I feel like I was able to think clearly. During contractions I'd focus and when I wasn't contracting I was laughing and talking.. I'd have to say what helped me the most was the support I had from my husband, my nana the nurses and Mallory. It was truly an amazing birth.
BHBBC: How long was your labor? How long did you push?
Samantha: I believe 2 hrs. I dilated super quick and maybe pushed for 30 minutes.
BHBBC: What will you do different if you have another baby?
Samantha: Make sure to have a doula!!!!!!
BHBBC: What was your favorite thing about birth-day?
Samantha: Just the amount of love and support I received. And of course seeing my healthy baby.
BHBBC: What advice do you have for expectant parents?
Samantha: Try to have an all natural labor. No pitocin! And most definitely look into a doula. The amount of support I received was amazing!
Thank you so much, Samantha for sharing your story! Congratulations on your beautiful baby boy and achieving your amazing birth!
This blog is written by Mallory and Donna - at Black Hills Birth Boot Camp. Expect birthy topics, parenting triumphs and trials, and community resources and interviews. Have a topic idea you’d like us to address? Drop us a note!