Documenting Your Birth

Special thanks to Zo’e Cole for contributing this post! Find her work on or on Instagram @thealohamamatog


Did you document your birth or are you expecting and contemplating whether you want it documented? Why would anyone want to document that? Well let me ask you, did you document your wedding (if you’re married)? Did you document any of your career achievements–graduations, promotions, entrepreneur milestones? What about a healing journey–overcoming a chronic issue or ringing the bell at the end of chemotherapy treatments?

Let’s take it back for a moment. Documentation may be done by a hired professional, but it can also be as simple as a photo or video on your phone to commemorate a big moment. So with that in mind, let’s answer the question again? Why would you want to document your birth? Why else do you document big moments? So you’ll remember–the journey, the victory, the healing path, the revelation, the goal met, the relationship milestone, the prayer answered... 

And what’s more important and what makes me passionate to be a birth documentarian–what effect could we have on our children by documenting our birth. What was your first experience with birth? Was it like mine–Rachel from Friends agonizing in a bed for hours, sweating in stirrups (but still somehow she glistened perfectly and her birth hair was still perfectly framing her face). Or maybe it was that great birth video that traumatized everyone in 6th grade health class–boys and girls alike?

What if your children’s narrative around birth began with his or her own mother’s experience? I think about how much fear I had to unlearn surrounding birth, because I had grown up in a culture that feared and shied away from birth–especially physiologic birth. 

All stories were negative and it was not a comfortable topic for anyone. Any conversation about birth was primarily negative. I was 34 weeks pregnant with my first child before anything told me anything positive about birth. 

We don’t have control over how our children perceive birth, but we do have the power to teach them about the day of their own births–the highs and lows, the obstacles, the support, the lessons learned, the real emotions and sounds, the options they have, and how to seek the right support. We have the power to create empowerment and normalcy around birth and with documentation we have the power to show them visually what birth can look like. 

There are many ways to do this. Here are a few tips to consider:

  1. Ask a support person or doula to document for you. Someone that is not your husband or partner. This way, your number one person can be in it fully with you and you can document some of the most bonding moments you have together. 
  2. Leave polaroids or disposable cameras around like you would at a party and let your birth team know they’re free and encouraged to snap photos of moments for you to develop and reflect upon later. This is a great option if you don’t mind flashes going during your labor.
  3. Create Art. Write down your story. Sing your song. This one is where your creative side comes out. What is your creative medium? Do you paint, sketch, collage, write poetry? Is your birth going to bring a new creative side out of you? I’ve drawn commissioned renderings of birth phone snaps for friends and clients and it’s a beautiful thing you can do as part of your own birth processing.
  4. Hire a professional birth photographer or videographer. Understandably, this is an investment, but one if you are seeking a certain level of expertise for your birth documentation. The same as hiring a wedding photographer, a birth photographer is well-versed in birth, supporting your birth atmosphere, working in low-light conditions, and providing you with an artistically captured memento to share with your children as you celebrate, process, and reflect on your unique birth journey.

I’ll leave you with this. Your story is important. As mothers, each birth marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one. There is pain and discomfort in this, but there is also victory, healing, and growth. Birth is a rite of passage that isn’t to be skipped over and forgotten. It’s a beautiful part of your story and worth documenting–however you decide is the best way for you. 

Author Bio

Zo’e Cole is an faith-based birth documentarian and doula based in Orange County, CA. She is a mama to two little ones and works to instill empowerment, support, normalcy, and faith surrounding birth in everyone she meets no matter what their birth journey may look like. Find her work on or on Instagram @thealohamamatog

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