Born En Caul: A Hypnobabies Birth in Shakopee, Minnesota | A Preview of Maya's Birth Story in Photographs by Meredith Westin

March 11th, 2019 | 6:43 pm

I first met this fantastic couple at the Twin Cities Birth and Baby Expo way back at the beginning of November. We ended up in line together for lunch and got to chatting. Fast forward a few months and I got to witness them working together to meet their sweet baby. Dad was so incredibly supportive, mama was focused and relaxed, and seeing their emotional reactions as their baby was lifted into their arms brought me to tears.

One of the questions they asked me in our interview was: how long will it take you to drive to our birthplace? The longest it has ever taken me to get to a birth is 43 minutes. I live 15 to 20 minutes from most of the birth centers and hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and, because I don't have kids of my own and am almost always on call, it rarely takes me more than a few minutes to get out the door. In fact, I have beaten doulas, family members, and even partners to births! Their birthplace, St. Francis, is a little bit farther away from my home than most of the other hospitals in the Twin Cities but it still takes only about a half an hour to get from my driveway to a clients' bedside in Shakopee. Because birth is so unpredictable, knowing that members of your birth team can get to you quickly if needed can take some of the stress that goes along with anticipating your labor and delivery out of the equation. Frequently, clients also want to know how many births I’ve attended as a birth photographer (nearly 100), if I’ll be sharing photographs from their birth online (only if I have their permission), and how long I stay after baby’s birth (up to two hours to capture all those sweet first moments).

One of the most common questions I get from friends and acquaintances is: "What's it like being on call all the time?" — and that question is usually followed up by: "Do you ever go out?!" and "Can you drink?"! I love being on call. The anticipation of getting to photograph a birth for one of my clients is incredible. My personality and lifestyle make being on call relatively simple. My spare camera batteries are always charged, fresh memory cards are always in my cameras, my camera bag/snack bag/overnight bag are always packed and ready to go next to the door, and I make sure my car always has fuel in it. I do go out - but I bring my gear with me and am always prepared to dash at a moment's notice. As for drinking, I don't. I never did drink much and becoming a doula and birth worker made the desire to drink all but disappear. Do you have any questions about what it’s like for me to work as a birth photographer in Minneapolis and St. Paul? I’d love to continue the conversation!

If you're looking for a birth or postpartum photographer in the Twin Cities, don't hesitate to reach out. xo

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A Joyous Gestational Carrier Birth in St. Paul, Minnesota | A Preview of Nina's Birth + A Birth Announcement Film by Meredith Westin

April 13th, 2019 | 9:57 am

As the leading birth photographer in Minneapolis and St. Paul, I am honored to bear witness to incredible transformations on a weekly basis. I document raw beauty, pure strength, and authentic love. This birth was no exception.

When Helena reached out to me way back in August about having the birth of her sweet Nina photographed, I was thrilled. As April approached, she decided to add videography on to her package and I was so excited to be able to capture even more of her birth story. Helena's baby would be born via a gestational carrier (GC), a wonderful woman who was as excited about having the birth documented as we were. As their guess date approached, little Nina showed a bit of her personality by teasing her GC and her parents with start and stop contractions for over a week. Finally, in the early hours of April 13th, the contractions became too much to deal with at home and we all met up at United Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Nina's GC has a history of fast labors. When I arrived at the hospital at 4 am, I half-expected to meet sweet Nina within minutes -- and not just because of her GC’s history but also because a few recent babies had been in such a rush to join us that I only got to spend a short while with their mamas before capturing their moment of birth. This time around, things went a bit slower. An epidural... a bit of pitocin... and then they decided to break the GC's bag of waters (called AROM or artificial rupture of membranes). That kicked things into high gear and baby was born just a half an hour later, after only two pushes.

I just adore the sweet looks on her parent's faces as they witnessed her birth. And the moment shared between the amazing gestational carrier and Nina's incredible mama... so touching! I hope you enjoy looking at this sneak peek into Nina's birth as much as I enjoyed capturing it.

If you're looking for a birth photographer or videographer in the Twin Cities, don't hesitate to reach out. xo


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A Fast, Intense Labor After a Days-Long Induction | Mabel Rose's Birth Story by Meredith Westin

November 8th, 2018 | 4:00 pm

Not only was I there for the birth of this sweet family’s daughter, I also got to come back the next day for a Fresh 48 session in the hospital and again at their home the week after their sweet baby was born.

Welcome to the world, sweet girl! We’re so glad you’re here!

Born at Ridgeview Hospital in Waconia, Minnesota | Terre's Birth Story by Meredith Westin

November 4th, 2018 | 7:53 pm

I’m writing this on November 5th, 2018, the day after sweet Terre’s birth, which happens to be the two year anniversary of my birth photography career. I spent most of yesterday with this incredible couple alongside my lovely doula partner Gina of The Sown Seed and I’ve spent most of today thinking about the lessons I’ve learned over the past two years and 50+ births. I have, of course, learned so much about birth, and the power and beauty of birthing people, and about photography, but I think I’ve learned the most about myself. Which brings me to this birth. This gallery is misleading. What you don’t see is the shoulder dystocia. You don’t see the room filling with hospital staff, mama’s knees being brought up to her ears, nurses pushing on her stomach while her midwife attempts to work that baby out of her, and so of course you don’t see any images of that maneuver, called McRoberts, not working. And you also don’t see mama’s midwife giving her a third degree episiotomy and then, later, stitching her back up again. You do see mama working hard to push her baby out, and you see her partner’s support and his waiting arms as he prepares to catch their baby, and you see the lovely golden hour moments they shared with their brand new babe. But you don’t see any pictures of that emergency situation. Why? Because I didn’t take any. One of the biggest things I’ve learned in the last two beautiful, birth-filled years is to trust myself. To trust my judgement and to decide when to document and when to step away. And I’ve learned that I’m entirely capable of remaining calm during an emergency and even being able to help during a scary time.

When I first started shooting births, I saw a lot of other birth photographers saying that one of their main goals was to be a fly on the wall, to be an invisible presence, to document without impacting their client’s day and so I, too, adopted that as my philosophy. But it didn’t feel quite right and after a few births I realized: that’s not me. I don’t want to be invisible; I want to help. I don’t want to not have an impact; I want to contribute to a lovely, calm, beautiful atmosphere for my clients. I don’t want to be a fly on the wall; I want to be supportive and caring and an asset beyond just capturing your day. And so that’s what I do: I document, and I fluff pillows, and I keep an eye out for chapped lips on thirsty mamas, and sometimes I put a hand on a shoulder and whisper reassuring words. And I’m so glad that’s who I am: not only someone who can capture your baby’s first birthday and all the emotions, moments big and small, and beauty that goes along with it but someone who is an active part of your birth team and is wholly there for you in all the ways I can be.

If you’re interested in booking a birth story session, chatting about your birth plans, or just talking about birth photography in general, I’d love to hear from you.

Interested in booking a birth story session? learn more!