When it comes to birth, let’s face it — moms usually get all the glory. And for darn good reason, of course. But every now and then, it’s nice to quite literally turn the tables and focus on dad.
Which is exactly what Jaydene Freund, birth photographer and videographer with her company Cradled Creations, decided to do for one expecting couple in Abbotsford, BC, Canada. The pregnant mother asked Freund to turn her camera on her husband instead of her during their son’s birth. And the results are incredible.
“This mom did not have her first birth photographed and remembered how invested her husband was,” Freund says. “For this birth, she wanted me to focus on capturing him and his emotional reaction once baby arrived since she knew it’s something she wanted to remember as part of her baby’s story.”
Um, mission accomplished? Freund has seen a lot of births and she explains that just like every woman handles labour uniquely, every dad handles the birth experience uniquely. “Sometimes watching their partners in so much pain, when they are helpless to take the pain away causes a partner to shut down and retreat into a corner,” she says. “And other times they step up to the plate and become the best labour support a woman could hope for.”
I can’t really think of a better way to step up to the plate than actually delivering your own baby.
And contrary to what a new mom might think, that dads can’t handle the “grossness” of watching their child emerge from their partner’s body, Freund says that once the time actually comes, the overwhelming majority of fathers are “mesmerized” by watching their baby come hearthside.
“It’s one of nature’s greatest miracles and they aren’t looking at their wife’s body, they are looking at their child squeeze through an opening to enter this world,” she says. “Dads usually take a place around the bed, holding mom’s hand or leg and don’t receive a lot of attention at delivery until it’s time to cut the cord a minute or two later.”
This particular family had planned for Dad to catch the baby, whom they named Theodore, but he got so swept up in the moment he almost completely missed his big chance. Freund captured the entire birth journey in a video for the parents as well.
“These parents had planned to have dad catch, but when baby started to emerge dad was praying on the other side of the room and almost missed it,” Freund explains. “Mom had to yell at him to ‘Go catch the baby!’ His face didn’t fully register what was happening so she had to say it again and then he ran over just in time as the head was already out. The doctor moved aside and fully respected the parent’s wishes. It all happened quickly and moments later the baby’s body slid out and he was holding his son in the air with both hands. He was overcome with emotion afterwards and once the baby was given to mom, Dad couldn’t stay standing. He knelt down at the end of the bed. It was a very powerful moment.”
As a photographer, Freund says she loves to see dads taking a more active roll in their children’s birth story. But that doesn’t mean she left mom out either. After she photographed Theodore meeting his dad for the first time, she was able to turn her camera onto mom, too, capturing her reaction as she held her son skin-to-skin on her chest. “It’s an incredible thing to capture this family working together to welcome their child into this world,” she notes.
“Dads always have an emotional journey during birth,” Freund says. “Usually it’s an internal dialogue and they don’t show much emotion. These photos are family heirlooms that both parents will treasure forever. Seeing these photos brings all those positive emotions flooding back.”