• 27 Photos That Prove Fathers Are Essential in Childbirth

    "I not only get to witness how a baby is being born, but I see how a woman becomes a mother and a man transforms into a father."
  • 27 Photos That Prove Fathers Are Essential in Childbirth
    IMAGE Isabell Steinert
  • With Father's Day coming up, I think of my own father and all the other great dads I know, and I am thankful. 

    In my role as a birth photographer at Shiphrah Birthing Home, I not only get to witness how a baby is being born, but I see how a woman becomes a mother and a man transforms into a father. And more than that, I capture the moments of support and love between the couple in those often long hours of labor. 

    When I talk to my own mother about birth, she tells me how grateful she was that my dad was there to support her when she gave birth to me. And my father was just as happy to see me enter the world. It saddens me when I hear from couples who wanted to be together in the labor and delivery room, but access was denied to the father. After all, it is the birth of a family, the beginning of their life as a family. The father was there when the baby was conceived, so it is only right for him to be there when the baby is being born.

    Even the World Health Organization (WHO) encourages a birth companion to be present with the mother at birth*. And many mothers would choose their partner as their birth companion to support them during labor. Support can mean massaging the laboring woman as a natural form of pain relief, making sure she has something to eat and drink, gentle touch and kisses that help release the love hormone oxytocin, or encouraging words to let her know that he believes in her, to tell her that she is beautiful and strong. 

    World-famous midwife Ina May Gaskin once said, "It does a man good to see his lady being brave while she has their baby... it inspires him.", and I think she is right. I have heard many fathers who were present at the birth of their child say that they were amazed by their partner's strength, while many mothers say it helped them to have their partner by their side. And often you hear from both that the involvement of the father during pregnancy and birth created a strong bond between them, and served as a good start to prepare them for parenthood. And isn't that what we want; strong families that build strong communities? 

    As a photographer who documents births, I feel privileged to capture those intimate moments of birth. Moments that when the couple look back at them will hopefully remind them of that strong bond. I have seen many, many fathers who were amazing birth companions for their partners, and seeing the joy and relief on their face when they finally see their child, is beautiful. 

    I am happy to share some of these moments with you, and want to wish all of you wonderful fathers a "Happy Father's Day"! Thank you for being there for your partners and children, your role is so important!

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    Isabell Steinert believes every story is beautiful and worthy of being told. Social justice issues like equality, female empowerment and adoption are just few of the reasons that she now serves as a volunteer with HELP International Ministries in the Philippines. 
     It is in this role she has developed her love for birth photography. She loves to capture the beauty and strength of a woman in labor, the support of her birth team, and the birth of a new family. It is her hope that her documentary style photos will help change perceptions of what birth can mean for women, families and our society as a whole. You can find more of her inspiring photos on her website and Facebook, or follow her on Instagram.

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