6 Unexpected Things Nobody Tells You About Birth | Dubai Birth Photographer

Isn’t it incredible that women are pregnant for nine, sometimes ten months, before they even meet their babies? It’s almost God’s way of preparing us mentally for the incredible journey we are about to go on. Preparing for that journey starts with preparing for childbirth itself, and just like anything in life, unexpected things are almost guaranteed to pop up one way or another. As a birth photographer in Dubai, I’ve learned lots of new and interesting things just by watching on the sidelines, and hence why, I personally think, it is sometimes important to be educated on what to expect, or even better, what are some of the unexpected parts of birth, that most people choose not to talk about.

1. It takes an incredible amount of focus

I always know when a mom has entered the active labor phase, because suddenly, we transition from a woman who is chatty and lively between contractions, to witnessing the pure meaning of intense focus and attention. When labor gets going for real, it is consuming and demanding, but honestly, truly amazing, even otherworldly in it’s own strange way. There are few times in your life where you will know the focus required for this incredibly wild and amazing journey to birth!

2. You will still have contractions after the baby and placenta have been delivered

All the pain and contractions are supposed to end after you deliver your baby, right? Wrong. You will still have some contractions, albeit not at all as painful. This is completely normal. After you deliver your baby, your uterus needs to go back to the size and firmness it was pre-birth. The contractions are nature’s way to ensure that that happens. Here’s the thing though, your body may be doing all the hard work to get this done, but many times your doctor or midwife will also apply a fundal “massage” so that your uterus firms up quicker. This massage is not pleasant, but, believe me, it is necessary.

3. There will be Poop.

I know. It’s embarrassing. But it’s totally normal and natural. Pushing activates the same muscles that humans use when going number 2, so don’t be embarrassed or worried if you poop during labor. Believe me, nobody cares, nobody even blinks an eye, and your care team cleans it up immediately without you even knowing that it happened sometimes. Now, it’s been my experience that some women try to empty out their bladder and intestines prior to birth (to avoid this “poop situation”) by either taking a laxative or sometimes even castor oil. PLEASE DO NOT DO THAT. More often than not, these chemicals will cause your uterus to start contracting, sometimes really painfully, right from the start, putting undue stress and risk on your body and on your baby. So, just embrace the poop. It’s not as dramatic as you think!

4. That water retention theory? It’s not a myth

Labor takes a lot of hard work; you will sweat, you will probably cry, you will definitely pee - in short, you are going to lose a lot of water in the process, and you don’t want to risk getting dehydrated. If you opt for a hospital birth, most hospitals will give the laboring mom an IV during labor to combat dehydration. Well guess what? The day after birth, many women will swell up in their face and/or ankles because of the IV fluids; the body still has a significant amount of blood volume circulating through it (as well as hormones) and would be adjusting to it’s new post-pregnancy state. But don’t worry, the water has to go somewhere, you’ll either pee it all out, but also women may even notice an increase in sweating more after birth. That should take care of it all.

5. You’re going to feel like you’re at a party

And you, darling, are going to be at the center of it, so I hope you like attention :) You’re going to meet and interact with so many different people at the hospital, specially if you have a long birth. You’ll probably be in the middle of many shift changes for hospital staff. The best part? You’ll know when the time is getting closer to meeting your baby; you’ll see a team of staff getting things prepped for your doctor or midwife to use during the delivery. Your partner, doula, nurse, and provider are all focused on you and your little one.

6. Things might not go as planned

This is the hardest part for many laboring moms to wrap their minds around. As you prepare for your childbirth, you educate yourself on all the available options, you get attached to certain things that feel “ideal” to you, things you prefer to happen at the birth of your loved one. Things may not always go as planned, but please be certain that you have every right to speak up, to ask questions and understand why things are happening, the risks associated with certain actions or inactions, and whether there are any alternatives to suggested procedures.

What about you? Did you experience anything during your labor that you weren’t expecting? I’d love to hear more!

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13 of the Best Labor and Birthing Positions for You and Baby | Dubai Birth Photographer

For nine months you prep and plan for baby’s arrival. You read books, watch videos and maybe even take a birthing class or two. But while movies and TV shows have led many of us to believe both labor and delivery happen while lying on your back with your legs spread wide, anyone who’s been through the experience will tell you it doesn’t have to play out that way.

As a birth photographer in Dubai, I’ve had the chance to witness a wide array of birth positions; many women start with one position and often end up delivering in a completely different one. It all depends on the birthing mother’s comfort, her strength and how her body works. So while reading this article can give you some excellent tips, the most important thing to take away is that you should listen to your body, it will tell you exactly what you need to do.

Click the image below to read the article!

5 Cool (And Strange!) Things My Clients Packed in their Hospital Bags! | Dubai Birth Photographer

I'm sure that if you're pregnant, and nearly due, you've read at least ONE of the hundreds of posts online talking about what to pack in your hospital bag.. so I won't even go there because many people have written about this much better than I ever could.. at this point, adding to these posts would be information overload in my opinion haha :)

So, what I thought I would do instead, is talk about all the cool (and sometimes strange, but turns out, super useful!) things I've seen some of my clients pack in their hospital bags! So without further adieu, here's the list!

1. Tennis Ball
At first, I was super confused. I mean, we're in a hospital, not on a tennis court, so why in the world would my client have a tennis ball packed in her bag? Well, turns out, when labor intensified, her hubby would use the tennis to massage her lower back when his hands got tired, and, suddenly, what seemed super strange, made complete and total sense!

2. Stress Ball
This made total sense to me, but I must admit, I never thought of it before, so when I saw it being used during labor, I must admit I felt slightly sorry for that little ball. It took quite a beating!

3. Extra Sleeping pillows
We all know hospital pillows are NOT the most comfortable thing in the world. To see that my client actually knew that in advance was super impressive. Needless to say, her hubby was super comfy when it was time to go to sleep because he was all SET UP!

4. Body Pillow
Ok this one was a biggie for me. When I saw it the first thing that came out of my mouth was "GENIUS" A body sleeping pillow becomes a pregnant mom's BEST FRIEND during pregnancy, specially towards the end! One of my super awesome clients tucked herself comfortably into the hospital bed while she labored, and you know what? Not only did it LOOK comfortable, I'm sure it felt amazing to have all her body supported as she labored on her side in bed!

5. Diffusion Fragrance Sticks
When I walked into the last labor I attended, I wasn't sure if I walked into a living room or an actual hospital room. My client re-did the entire room to make it look and feel comfortable for her. But get this, she brought in her favorite scented diffusion sticks, and my God it smelled divine in there. I'm sure this was highly appreciated by the hospital staff as they walked in and out of the room because they kept talking about how lovely it smelled in the room!


Well, that about sums up the coolest hospital bag items things that made me go AHA. I'm definitely going to keep an eye out on this in the future, and who knows, maybe I'll come back and update this blog post again in the future!

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Only One Breast Works When Breastfeeding? Here's Why! | Dubai Birth Photographer

Congratulations on starting your breastfeeding journey! The breastfeeding years are short and fleeting, but sometimes they can be filled with little challenges along the way. Most, if not all, challenges can be easily overcome by improving technique, managing stress (and expectations) and as well as giving yourself (and your baby!) some time and patience.

As a Dubai birth photographer, a common issue I've heard many of my friends and clients talk about is the fact that one breast seems to be producing more milk than the other. This can be completely normal, and is something you can definitely work on! If you can pinpoint the reason why this is happening, then the solution is right around the corner! Here's an awesome article that can walk you through a few pointers. Click this link or the image below!

https://www.bellybelly.com.au/breastfeeding/only-one-breast-works-when-breastfeeding/

Dilation Of The Cervix – What You Need To Know | Dubai Birth Photographer

Dilation.

This word becomes the center of every pregnant woman's world towards the end of her pregnancy term, which is fair, because dilation determines delivery and you WANT to dilate if you are planning for a natural, vaginal delivery. 

Despite the fact that we, as women, are all physically built the same way, we are all different, because each one of our bodies reacts in a different kind of way to the ebb and flow of the magical hormones circulating in our bodies. So what is "normal" or "standard" for one woman, is not necessarily true for another. And hence why I get really upset when care providers hold women in labor to strict "standards"  (for example, dilation of 1cm/hour) It is completely unrealistic to expect women to navigate through the intricate web of labor; a ride full of emotions, psychology, temperament, past experiences and comfort, and STILL expect a dilation rate of 1cm/hour. It just doesn't make sense!

For me, a big part of comfort is achieved through education and raising awareness. If we as women understand what it takes to achieve "X" in labor (whatever that X represents is personal to you I think) then it will make things a lot less stressful and clear. Which is why I LOVED this article I'm about to share with you

It walks you through:

  • What dilation of the cervix is all about? 
  • The Story behind "Centimetres"
  • Does dilation mean a woman is in labor?
  • How necessary are vaginal exams
  • How fast will a cervix dilate
  • What affects cervix dilation

Click on the image below to access the article, or simply click on this highlighted part right here.

What are your wishes for labor, birth and postpartum? | Dubai Labor and Delivery Photography

First, it is important to understand that you DO have a choice as to how you would like to deliver your baby. But in order to know what your choice is, you should learn as much as you can all about those choices that are available to you.

I found an INCREDIBLE resource on the Improving Birth Coalition website that I can't wait to share with you. It is a list of ten questions that you should expect and ask for in your birth experience. Going through this list, be sure to find out how the people you talk with handle these ten issues about caring for your and your baby.

Click here to access this document (it is also a free downloadable PDF, so feel free to save it as well) or click on the image below!

 

 

What you need to know about Water Birth in Dubai | Dubai Birth Photography

Water is totally my element. I love being in or near the water, and when I found out Al Zahra hospital offers a water birth option a few years ago, I KNEW I will definitely be considering Al Zahra just for that! Water birth is also being offered at other hospitals in the UAE, however, keep in mind that you may be allowed to labor in the water, but not deliver in it. Al Zahra allows for both. Check with your hospital for their exact regulations.

As a birth photographer, I had the honor of covering several water births, and I always come out with a little baby fever right after each one of them. Who knows, maybe my next birth will finally push me over the edge :) click the image below to read the article!

 

 

What exactly IS birth photography?

I get this question a lot. The conversation usually goes something along the lines of the person asking what I do for a living and me saying, I photograph births. Cue the awkward silence, interlaced with a bit of shock…

Person - “What do you mean you shoot births for a living?”
Me - “it means I photograph a mother’s labor and delivery story”
Person - “you mean, like a mom giving birth?!!!?”
Me - “yes, that’s a part of it. I document the story of baby’s arrival and first moments on earth”
Person - “wait a minute, so you take pictures of (THAT)?!”

Every. Time.

So, I thought I would write up a little blog post to clarify what exactly is birth photography, what makes it so special, and also the big question.. whether “THAT” is the star of the show :)


Birth photography is a new and growing art form. I’m happy to say I’ve been documenting labor and delivery stories for the past two years here in the UAE, and falling in love with birth more and more every day! Birth photography is documentary in nature, meaning that the people being photographed are not posing, nor acting in special ways for the camera. Most of the time, they are completely unaware of the images or videos being snapped. 

Birth photography is definitely NOT just about capturing the moment the baby is born. That moment is a highlight of the day, sure, but there are many important moments that happen along the way that lead to that momentous event. A good birth photographer will be able to convey in pictures (and in my case, videos) what the day felt and looked like, through a series of well composed images. As a relative “outsider” to the event, a birth photographer has the advantage of being the fly on the wall, watching, absorbing, and digesting events happening around her, and translating these events into beautiful photography. The beauty of this? A laboring mom usually doesn’t have TIME to appreciate everything happening around her, can’t see how beautifully she labored, how proud her husband is of everything she is working to achieve. And a birth photographer is the answer to all of that :) For five more compelling reasons on why you should consider a birth photographer, read my blog post here!

Now, one of the biggest things I get asked about is whether any images of a “graphic nature” are recorded during the birth. A quick search for birth photography images on google will show you a wide array of possibilities, some images highly graphic, while others completely artistic. Birth is graphic in it’s nature. It’s expected. The choice for whether the moment the baby is born is captured in it’s full propensity is totally up to the laboring mom.  If she would like that kind of coverage, then she will get it, otherwise, my default is to document that moment in the most conservative way - a way that highlights exactly what is happening without the need for being completely graphic. 



I hope this has helped clarify in some way what birth photography is or isn't. I'd be more than happy to chat with you more if you have any questions! Feel free to contact me on info@lanaphotographs.com with your questions or booking requests or click here to send me a message!

 

5 Reasons to hire a Birth Photographer | Dubai Birth Photography

I think back to the story of the birth of my first baby, and I know that it was a pivotal moment in my life: not only was I becoming a mother for the very first time, but it was the moment I put my foot on the path that has brought me to where I am today. I always knew I wanted a photographer to cover my labor. Sadly, I wasn’t able to find a Dubai birth photographer that would be able to provide this service for me. This is why I decided to start doing this myself. I'm happy to say that I've covered over ten births already in different hospitals in the UAE, and counting! 

 If you are considering whether you should hire a birth photographer, look no further. Here are my five main reasons why the answer to this question is a resounding YES:

1. It is their story, too! 
A lot of times during pregnancy,  and leading up to birth, we focus on mom and baby. We forget that pregnancy and birth are both journeys that affect EVERYONE in the family. The birth of a new baby is the birth of a new mother, father, siblings, grandparents... Don’t forget that this is their story too, how lovely would it be if they all get to be in the pictures too?

2. Major life event
The birth of your child is one of the most eventful, and life changing, days of your life. We always hire photographers to cover birthdays and weddings. How is the birth of a child any different? If anything, it is probably even more special than a wedding. Your baby is the product of your love for your spouse. You will only get ONE chance to birth this very baby, why not make sure you have someone there to document this special time for you?

3. You will forget what took place around you. 
At some point, you will inevitably end up in labor La la land. It is a period of intense focus and concentration, where it is just you, your breathing and your baby, working tirelessly to make it to the finish line. This is where a lot of lines get blurred and mothers tend to forget, and are not aware of, what is happening in the room. By hiring a birth photographer, you will not only see what it was like in the room, you will also get to experience it in the same way other members of your family were probably experiencing it as well.

4. Visual gift to your children
Birth photography is a wonderful visual gift to give your children. Don’t just tell your kids the story of their birth, show them what it looked like, what you looked like, what everyone in the room looked like. From the small details, to the big emotional moments. It is a wonderful way to preserve the memory forever.

5. One chance
There is only one shot to capturing the moment you first become a parent, the moment your spouse becomes a parent! Hiring a birth photographer ensures you have professional images that capture all the important moments and emotions. The biggest feedback I get when I speak to many of my clients about birth photography, is how they just WISH they had someone in the room to capture these fleeting moments if they could ever go back in time. 

 

Sometimes we don’t know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. Birth photography is a new, but growing, art form, and I am very happy to be able to provide this service in Dubai. Get in touch with me today, so we can talk about the best options for you and your family!

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9 Huge Benefits of Giving Birth Upright | Dubai Birth Photographer

As a birth photographer in Dubai, I choose to surround myself with inspirational images of birth from all around the world. On my Instagram, I follow several birth photographers whose work I love, doulas, midwives, birth associations, to name a few. I am always amazed by all the home birth pictures, videos and stories that I get to see, and how women have so much freedom in HOW they birth that way. I find them especially fascinating because in the UAE, we don't really have that option (to birth at home). Most, if not all, births, by law, should happen inside a medical institution. And for the most part, the regulation is that the birthing mother needs to birth ON the bed unless she is birthing in the water (I, do, however, understand the reasoning behind that in the hospital (hygiene, etc.) )

This isn't to say that birthing upright ON the bed isn't an option :) Click the image below to read the full article on nine huge benefits of birthing upright, and why, if you're pregnant, you should at least attempt to try this at your next labor.

Dealing with paperwork post birth in the UAE | Dubai Birth Photographer

Planning on having your baby in the United Arab Emirates? The folks at Bumps to Birth have put together an awesome blog post about the paperwork required post birth in the UAE. 

Here's the link to check it out or you can click on the image below: https://www.bumpstobirth.com/single-post/2017/11/18/Dealing-with-paperwork-post-birth-in-the-UAE

8 Natural & Effective Tips For a Slow Or Stalled Labour | Dubai Birth Photography

"If you’re birthing in a hospital and find that your labour reaches a plateau or stalls, unless you’re informed about what a stalled labour means and what you can do to help yourself, it can become a very anxious time."

From talking to so many pregnant moms, this seems to be one of the biggest fears of things that could go "wrong" during labor. I saw "wrong" because technically it's not exactly wrong, it's a speed bump, and sometimes completely natural as a laboring woman's body adjusts to so many changes over the course of her journey. In September, I covered the birth story of an Abu-Dhabi based first time mom, whose early stage of labor was a little over two days long. Labor seemed to stop and go, get long, get short. It was all over the place. The wonderful midwives at Corniche Hospital took excellent care of her. Despite the fact that she wasn't even in active labor yet, they allowed her to stay in the hospital because she felt comfortable and safe in that environment. Patience, time, lots of changing positions, walking, dancing, laughing.. all those things, and more, lead to a beautiful vaginal birth, and a healthy 3 kilo baby. 

I love this article, and everything it suggests, and highly recommend it to all my beautiful, pregnant mommies. Click the link below or the picture to read it in full.

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- See more at: http://www.bellybelly.com.au/birth/8-natural-effective-tips-for-stalled-labour/

The Last Days of Pregnancy | Dubai Birth Photography

I remember the last few weeks of January 2015; heavily pregnant, exhausted, and confused why labor hadn't started. Two weeks had passed since my due date. I was terrified something was wrong. Everyone under the sun seemed to be going into labor, except me. I tried everything, to get things going. Nothing worked. I cried almost every day of the last three weeks of my pregnancy. Looking back, I regret it all. But you know what they say, hindsight is 20/20. Now that I know better, it was just not time for me to go into labor. Everyone kept telling me that it will happen when it is meant to, but my nature did not understand that. I had to learn to surrender. I definitely felt like I was in an in-between place, and when I read this article, I couldn't relate more.

Looking back now, I would tell the first time mom version of me to relax, take things easy, enjoy the last few weeks, and not to ignore my feelings, but to not allow them to control my mind to the point of exhaustion. It is absolutely normal to be anxious, specially when on the crux of a big life change, but remember, nobody stays pregnant forever, all good things must come to an end :)

Click the image below to access the article.

Alternative Relaxation Techniques During Labor | Dubai Birth Photography

Birth is beautiful and mysterious, and often no two birth situations are exactly the same. As a Dubai Birth Photographer, I have covered a variety of different birth experiences, and I've observed that what can work for one mom during labor, may not necessarily work for another. Personally, for my birth experience, I remember making Pinterest boards with inspirational images and quotes that I kept referring to over and over again. I'm a very visual person, so It really helped! This is where the importance of listening to your body and trusting your instincts come into play. Trust yourself, try different suggestions, and go with what makes you feel the most comfortable.

In this article, are some great suggestions for relaxation techniques that can ease your labor journey. 

Click on the link above or the image below to access the full article.

 

 

New Evidence That We Just Need To Give Women More Time To Labor | Dubai Birth Photography

The evidence that the article is talking about here is the loosening of the restrictions on time to push the baby. "..first-time moms generally have three hours to push their baby out if they’ve had an epidural, two if they haven’t, and beyond that, they’re thought to be experiencing a prolonged second stage of labor. Healthcare providers may move for a C-section, or an assisted delivery with a vacuum or forceps."

Click here or the image below to read the full article.

Pregnancy mythbusting: from ‘eating for two’ to pineapple bringing on labour | Dubai Birth Photographer

How many of these have you tried? Common be honest with me! Click the photo below for the full article.

"Eat red meat or salty food if you want a boy; eat sweets if you want a girl

The idea that there are boy foods (strong, meaty) and girl foods (light, sugary) is basically sexist, but food may influence the sex of the baby. In 2008, scientists found women who had a high-calorie diet prior to conception were slightly more likely to give birth to a boy. Not that wolfing down the calories is recommended (see above).

You can tell the sex of the baby from the shape of the bump ...

The only thing the bump might tell you, bearing in mind that women love to be stared at and commented on, is if it’s a woman’s first pregnancy – in subsequent pregnancies, stomach muscles may be weaker and the baby may be carried lower. The shape of the bump is determined by the size and position of the baby and the body type and muscle tone of the woman.

… and from what you are eating

Again, women are supposed to crave sweet things if they are expecting a girl, and savoury things if it’s a boy. There’s no evidence for this, but how much you eat may be a predictor. Boys tend to be around 100g heavier than girls at birth. In one study of 304 women, those who went on to have male babies had about a 10% higher energy intake during the pregnancy."

Helping your Baby into the Best position at Birth | Dubai Birth Photographer

We've all been told by our mothers growing up to sit up straight, don't slouch, don't lean too far back into your chair. Well, turns out our moms have been absolutely 100% right teaching us to avoid these habits, specially if as moms expecting a baby really soon. Sitting in these positions, specially while pregnant, can have a not so positive effect on the position of the baby inside the uterus. 

Here are some tips on how you can help your baby into an ideal position for birth. Some of these can be done before labor, and many of them can happen also during labor. First and foremost, remember to listen to your body and do what feels natural and comfortable for you while you are laboring. 

Breathe. Relax. And ride those waves Momma, because on the other side is a little baby waiting to be cuddled by you!

Click the photo below to read the article!