As mothers, we're constantly comparing ourselves and our children to other moms, children, and even our children to each other and ourselves to our mothers. Many of us try to avoid criticizing ourselves through comparison, but when we are inundated with Instagram perfection, media headlines that spark judgement of other moms and judgment of our own shortcomings, and intense societal pressure to have, do, and be EVERYTHING, it's easy to stop enjoying motherhood. Let's be honest. Motherhood is hard enough as it is. It's beautiful, but hard. And the constant outside pressure to look and be perfect doesn't help. As a doula and photographer, my mission is to support women through the transition into motherhood. It is my deepest desire to help women realize that while they are absolutely imperfect, they are perfectly imperfect. Let's talk about the 5 ways Motherhood Photography helps women feel better about the rollercoaster journey of mom life.
During pregnancy, there are so many changes that happen to the body. From feeling physically ill, to experiencing a changing body shape, pregnancy is physically difficult. Throw in hormones, overwhelming amounts of conflicting information, nerve-inducing birth horror stories shared by strangers, and the 3894392573984 things that need to be prepared for your baby, and pregnancy is also MENTALLY and emotionally difficult. When I went to Jamie's house to capture her Intimate Maternity Portrait session, she wasn't feeling up to the session. She had shared that she hadn't been feeling like herself lately. We hung out for a bit, I took pictures, and we laughed and chatted about everything under the sun. Later that night I sent her a sneak peek of her gallery and she replied with a text that nearly made me cry. Jamie expressed to me that she really had been feeling down on herself and our session made her feel beautiful again. While looking in the mirror didn't make her feel beautiful, the photos from her session allowed her to see how amazing her body is, nourishing and growing two babies... Instead of being frustrated with her body, Jamie began to realize that while this pregnancy has been exceptionally difficult in a variety of ways, there is still an underlying beauty that we can not allow ourselves to ignore.
2. Birth Photography
Birth photography is still pretty new, and some might even say controversial. My own mother has no idea why I insist on having my photographs birth and why women PAY me to photograph their BIRTH... But birth photography is perhaps the most powerful genre of photography in existence (in my totally bias opinion anyway). See, if you have experienced birth before, you know what I'm about to say.. If you haven't experienced birth, there's something you should know...
When you give birth, whether or not you utilize medication and regardless of your birthing location, you mentally go to an alternate world. Birth is truly an out of body experience and often, looking back on it, the details become fuzzy. Birth photography can show you how strong and powerful you are.
In the case of an emergency, especially, birth photography can be particularly healing, because it can capture moments we forgot about, didn't get to fully embrace in the moment, or be a keepsake of any moment that you never want to forget.
One mother who experienced a postpartum hemorrhage and needed emergency surgery after birth shared with me that hiring a birth photographer was the best investment she made. When she was being taken back for surgery, facing her fear of death, she thought about how grateful she was to have had a photographer at her birth so her daughter would have some photos of them together. By the grace of God, this amazing, tough woman is healing from this experience now, and is so grateful to have photos of her beautiful birth and celebration of her family members before the emergency occurred.
Are you just getting started on your motherhood journey? Check out these free pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding pocket guides!
4. Newborn Lifestyle Photography
Despite the name, Newborn Lifestyle photo sessions do not just focus on your newborn. This session tells the story of a family who is growing and welcoming a new family member. Whether this is an adoption or a biological birth, welcoming a new baby is challenging. The challenges of this season of parenthood, however, do not diminish the beauty. But let me tell you, from experience... Most parents are in such a fog during these early days, everything feels hard, and many of these days are forgotten. When I think of my son's first week, I remember pain in recovering from childbirth, I remember struggling to breastfeed, I remember lots of crying from everyone.... I don't really remember the snuggles and how special that time actually was. I didn't appreciate those early days then, and I miss them now. Every now and again I'll stumble across a phone photo my husband snapped of my son snuggled up on my chest and I think about how I wish we had photos of the smiles. Photos of the happy moments. Photos of love that was shared... because it was there... my memory just has a hard time remembering because the suck was so powerful. Now I'm not saying it sucks like this for every family... but even when it does, there IS beauty. And it's usually really freaking hard to acknowledge that beauty when you're going through the suck. Imagine having a beautiful photo on your staircase that you see every morning when you walk down the stairs that reminds you how beautifully perfect your family is, even in the midst of chaos and imperfection.
4. Breastfeeding Photography
Another somewhat misunderstood genre of photography is breastfeeding photography. In an effort to celebrate each mother's unique breastfeeding experience, I love to offer Breastfeeding Photo Sessions. These are sessions where women can celebrate a breastfeeding milestone, commemorate overcoming challenges, or simply help to show society how beautiful breastfeeding is in an effort to normalize it. The truth is, breastfeeding isn't always easy or pretty. But when we take a step back, and document the unique connections of a breastfeeding mother and infant, we see strength and beauty. Strength in perseverance. Strength in knowing their own limits. Strength in reaching a goal. Strength in acceptance if they didn't reach their goals.
5. Mommy & Me
Motherhood never seems to get easier. The challenges just grow and change along with our children. Being a mom is hard. And so often we're hard on ourselves. We don't want photos because we haven't lost the baby weight yet. We don't think we can be as perfect as that Pinterest mom, so we might as well not even bother trying. Well, newsflash, Mama.... God gave you your children because He believes you are the perfect mother for them... even with all your imperfections. Stop shaming yourself and start celebrating the love between you and your children. You have a special connection. That love is beautiful... whether you have messy hair and your kid has food on their face or you're all in perfect makeup and attire... that love exists and it's beautiful. Celebrate it. Show your daughters that imperfect is okay. Show your sons that love embraces mud. Take the photos of you laughing with your kids, because when they grow up to quickly, you don't want to regret not having photos of these moments. Don't just show them the perfectly curated photos with forced smiles... show them the moments that made your heart actually explode with love... show them the moments you had patience when you wanted to be angry... show them the moments you embraced fun over perfection... show them the moments you leaned on support... show them the moments you were overcome by their cuteness... show them the moments you chose confidence over self-consciousness. Show your children the moments you chose strength, life, and love when every fiber of your being wanted you to shut down and quit.
This concept of the celebrating the beauty amidst the chaos of motherhood is why when you look at my photos you'll rarely see a perfectly posed portrait... you'll see interaction, connection, laughter, smiles, tantrums, patience, true story documentation... Even in Maternity sessions, where we might do a little more "posing", I try to capture genuine moments because I want you to feel something powerful when you look at these photos.
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Wanna tell your story? I'm currently telling the stories of moms in South Jersey and would LOVE to help you tell your own story. Is your pregnancy hard and you want to be reminded of how amazing your body is? Do you want your birth story documented so you can revisit it each year on your baby's birthday? Is breastfeeding harder than you expected? Are you an exclusive pumper? Do you want to show your grandkids grandkids how badass great great great great grandma was overcoming allllll the motherhood challenges *during a historic pandemic*? If you answered yes! Then let's set up a consult where you can tell me what's going on in your life, and we can chat about how to celebrate your lovely family.
Jaimie Zaki is a doula, lactation consultant, and Motherhood Photographer in South Jersey. Jaimie loves to use these skills to support women through their motherhood experience and help them find their voice and celebrate their power. Jaimie offers in home maternity sessions, in home newborn photography, and photographs hospital and home births. If you would like Jaimie to document your Motherhood Story, reach out today and schedule a free consult to get to know Jaimie a little better. Check out Jaimie's other birth support services.