I feel drawn to write this post this morning as I reflect on the number of new parents who arrive at the studio, trying their absolute best to do well by their new little bubba. It’s when they share a little comment somoene once made, a midwife who didn’t listen, a friend’s judgement or the long list of contradictory things ‘they definitely should be doing for their baby’ and then look at me with a combination or a little lost, a little overwhelmed, a little emotional, a little overtired and a whole lot of vulnerability that I feel incredibly drawn to protect them, support them and most of all encourage them to feel confident in what they decide is right for their baby.
This content has actually been sitting with me for longer than it should, and today is the day I’m going to share my thoughts.
I love to hear people’s birth stories. I find it fascinating to hear a mum and dad who were in the same room, but had two very different experiences. I love to hear all about their experience and often it is the first time they are retelling these details, without needing to filter out the gory bits, the scary bits and the bits they are a little mad about.
It is for this reason, that i feel so strongly that a newborn session needs to be a nurturing space. These photos are just about cute images, they are preserving a moment in time. A time that will soon become a blur, but I want these photos to be able to bring you back to this moment in a second, and for that reflection to be of fond memories, feeling connected to your babe, feeling safe to explore being a parent.
One thing i can assure you of is, no new parent needs a list of crazy expectations on them to help them ‘prepare for a newborn session’. I have read countless photographers who have provided such well meaning session prep guides but actually they are simply a list of ways you will fail before you even arrive and I’m having none of it.
A newborn session with me you will only need 3 things;
- arrive with a pile of spare nappies,
- be prepared for extra feeds in whatever shape that is taking for you on that day
- relax and trust that it will all work out on the day
That’s it. Nothing else. No rules. No expectations on you. Just relax and enjoy.
I love settling babies, I love the long chats, I love the sharing.
Some myths I wish to dispel
MYTH #1 – If you baby is past 2 weeks then it’s a waste of time
Some babies are still in hospital. Some people just had other things going on. Whenever you decided you want photos, that is a good time. Yes it is true that in the first few weeks, they are sleepier and curlier but that doesn’t mean after that isn’t worth recording. Yes, after a few weeks the hormones flood out of their little bodies and they may get baby acne. This is not ideal for photos but also….we have photoshop! Yes they get bigger, more alert, prefer to be wrapped, but if you have missed that earlier window, don’t worry, just get onto it asap.
MYTH #2 – You must keep your baby awake before your session so they sleep for photos – just not true!!!
This one makes me a little mad. Some photographers will ask parents to keep their baby intentionally awake for an hour, 2 hours, I even read 3 hours prior to the session time. New little baby’s don’t stay awake that long, so asking a parent to keep a tired baby awake is just setting them up to fail. Also an overtired baby can be very hard to settle so they are setting the family up for a crazy afternoon.
In those early days/weeks, babies run to their own rhythm. What may have been predictable the day before could be out the window today. I think their is nothing worse that stressed parents arriving, worried they have done the wrong thing because their baby slept!
Perhaps their advice is coming from inexperience, but look for a photographer who will go with the flow, who is happy to work with you and your baby to settle them, who doesn’t tell you when to feed your baby, who is happy for you to sit a feed your baby when they need it, for as long as it takes (and in those early weeks they can be a slow process). When my newborn clients arrive, I like to establish what has been the pattern for that morning so I best know what the baby might be needing.
I know parents often find comfort in not having the pressure on them to settle the baby. As photographers we must remember, this is not our baby. We are not in control here. Decisions need to be led by the parents.
MYTH #3 – You must allow use of a dummy during your session
Ummmm….just….NO! If a parent brings a dummy – great! Especially if the baby is a big comfort sucker or is a bit windy. But as a photographer there is no place that it is ok for you to demand that the parents are ok with you insisting you use a dummy. Yes, i have actually read this as a requirement for some. There are many ways to comfort a baby and if the parents aren’t using a dummy then that isn’t one of the ones at your disposal. End of story.
MYTH #4 – Babies are super flexible and don’t break
Confidence in handling a baby is a fantastic quality for a newborn photographer to have. Babies pick up on touch and can feel if you are nervous and in the same way can feel much comfort from confident, safe touch and cradling.
Not every baby moves in the same way though or enjoys the same positions. Watching your baby be maneuvered should be pleasant to watch. If it makes you want to jump up and protect, then you just go and follow that gut vibe and do that! If you are uncomfortable, then say. If you just suddenly need to cuddle your baby, then say. Hormones are running high and that instinct to protect shouldn’t be ignored. So be aware of anyone asking you to ignore it.
I could write for days on this topic. This may come across a little bit of a rant but I’m feeling fiercely protective of the collective of new parents, not just first time parents, but new to their new little human even if it’s their 6th.
If anything, I want my lasting impression with my clients to be a member of those in their village of support.
Written with Love….and a little bit of mumma bear protecting fellow Mums and Dads