With Mother’s Day just past, I hope all mums were made to feel just a little bit special for all that they do for their children – whatever their age.
I remember my first ever Mother’s Day – I’d just given birth ten days previously after a fairly traumatic labour, my life had been totally turned upside down by this bundle of screams and sore boobs, I was barely home from hospital after a stint there with a severely jaundiced newborn which really brought home just what a responsibility this ‘being a mother’ was.
The nine months previous hadn’t exactly been a bundle of laughs – I don’t do pregnancy well it turns out (both times!) with horrendous morning sickness that started within a week of conception and continued well past the 12 weeks that most ‘experts’ on the matter predict. I was enormous (yes I am sure I’m only carrying the one thank you very much, and yes still two months to go!) and bloated with elephantine feet that wouldn’t fit into any shoes I owned. I was not the bohemian, floating on air in diaphanous chiffon dresses with a neat little bump, looking all beautiful and serene and Mother Earth.
I have just one photo of me pregnant with my first. It’s an iPhone pic taken by my husband while we were on our last holiday together as a twosome. It was taken before I was ridiculously enormous and in that magic window of time between the morning sickness and the dreadful tiredness that followed where I actually felt good about being pregnant (it lasted about 3 weeks!).
Yet despite how horrendous I felt – and looked – I wish I had more photos of me at that time. Because that’s when the work of being a mum actually starts – when you’re actually growing your little human. Some may find it this blissful and rewarding experience while others suffer every second of it, but we’re all mums right there and then, working hard to be and do the best we can for our new arrival.
I wish I had more pictures that I could show to my daughter and say ‘that’s you in there’. In the one photograph I do have I’m wearing knickers rolled down under my bump and a crumpled white cotton shirt. It isn’t glamorous but I do look ‘all woman’ and I love it nonetheless.
With my second pregnancy a very kind photographer friend of mine offered to do some photos of me and I also had the foresight to also do some self-portraits myself (what’s the use in being a photographer if you’re never in the images!). So I do have some memories to treasure from the second time around. Believe me the pregnancy was just as harsh – and this time with a relentless two-year-old in tow. But none of that matters when I look at those images. I look serene even if I didn’t feel it. There are some gorgeous images of my daughter with my bump that I will cherish into old age.
Despite being a photographer, maternity photos weren’t something I considered for myself and I find this is often the case with clients, especially the first time round. They’re too busy preparing for the new life ahead. They forget to take time to capture and treasure the moment – the calm before the storm! When the baby comes it’s a whirlwind of nappies and visitors and photos – we can look back with regret that we didn’t take more time to record where baby lived before they came into the world. Where they were nurtured and every need met before they ever learned to cry out or grasp a finger. What a beautiful gift to have to be able to look back on that time and show your baby where it lived first before the chaos of the new world.
Whether formal-style, draped in swathes of chiffon; totally au natural; a dreamy outdoors photoshoot in a meadow; or just at home on your sofa, a maternity photoshoot can create some stunning portraits and capture those amazing memories to cherish for years to come.
We spend so much time preparing for the birth and the days ahead, let’s not forget to remember the time before the birth too. Here are my top tips for making the most of your pregnancy and making it a positive experience to look back on:
Pregnancy massage! OMG – get as many as you can, especially in those final few weeks when you can barely move or sleep comfortably. There is sooooooo little time to pamper yourself once baby has arrived so make the most of it. Not an indulgence – a necessity!
Pregnancy yoga can really help you prepare and give you some gentle exercise too.
Hypnobirthing books and classes can really help you prepare mentally and physically for the birth itself. After a traumatic first birth, I turned to hypnobirthing for my second and it really helped me get into a good mindset for the birth itself. Such a different experience the second time round and couldn’t have gone more smoothly, in no small part down to my mental state of being.
Maternity photos – obviously I would say that! But seeing yourself look beautiful in photos, even if you don’t feel it at 4am when you can’t turn over in bed without a full scale military operation, can make such a difference. And they truly are a gift to look back on when the morning sickness is long behind you.
I’m delighted to be partnering with Baby Bumps , which offers hypo-birthing classes, one-to-one sessions and Skype sessions in Crystal Palace, Beckenham and across south-east London, to offer 10% off my Bump to Baby packages. Don’t forget to take a look at my bumps portfolio as well as my top tips for selecting the right newborn baby photographer when your little bundle of joy arrives.