Birth photography is now in India

The trend of hiring an expert photographer to record a birth is on the rise in the West. We explore the possibility of the phenomenon catching on here

For women in New York who want their child's birth chronicled in a family album, right from pregnancy to the labour room, professional photographers are the best bet. Having battered down delivery room doors to snap a few memorable shots of a mother's strained, gasping face, her bulging neck veins, and maybe a torn perineum, the photographer captures this un-Photoshopped moment as it unfolds. Since births don't always go according to plan, there may a chance that this could go wrong. Some clients may give birth too quickly or be forced to undergo C-sections, which are particularly hard to capture because most hospitals refuse to allow photographers entry into a sterile environment.

Hard to look your best in the labour room
"No matter what you do, you can't look your best while trying to deliver a child," says, choreographer and director and Farah Khan, whose husband Shirish Kunder filmed her when she was delivering their triplets. She goes on to add, "I was lucky because Shirish is so good with the camera. He was able to capture the birth of our triplets so well. However, if your partner is not sure how to use the camcorder, and you are determined to capture this life-changing experience, hiring a professional birth photographer seems like your best bet."

However, in a country, where there are a lot of superstitions about photographing a newborn child and a pregnant mother, would a concept like this really work? TV actress Moon Banerjee, says, "I think there is a 50/50 chance that a concept like this would work in India. While there are families that are extremely conservative, that is slowly changing. I have had a couple of friends whose husbands were present in the delivery room, trying to capture the birth of their child. That was not an option for me as I had a C-section, but I would have definitely considered it. It's a milestone and you would like to share it with your kids at some point."

From the camcoder to an MRI video
If you one of those who is is still trying to get around the idea of having a complete stranger with a cam photographing a very private moment, here's something that could be your next best option in the future. Doctors at a Berlin hospital have released an MRI video that shows the first real-time footage of a baby being born from the inside.

The team led by Dr Christian Bamberg made the medical breakthrough in November 2010 but only published still images at the time. The 30-second movie shows a baby as it descends down the birth canal of a 24-year-old mother who volunteered for the project.

The mother spent 45 minutes inside the MRI machine during the second stage of her labour, also known as the 'pushing stage'. While most MRI machines are tube-shaped, the team at Berlin's Charite Hospital developed a special 'open' scanner which provided the necessary room for midwives and the German mother during the birth on 20th November.

To protect the participants during the historic birth, the mother wore earmuffs to block out the noise and the machine was switched off when the amniotic sack surrounding the baby opened, to prevent the newborn's hearing being affected."

What do the people behind the camera say?
Anagha Chokshi and Minal Dhingra of a Mumbai-based Baby Portraiture Boutique that captures the special first hours, days, and months of a baby's life, say "We are open to the idea of capturing the birth of a child as it happens, but have not had any such requests as yet." The duo's one-and-a-half year old company has been profiling kiddies with their parents and grandparents, since the first week of their birth and has even profiled expectant mothers who want the pictures for a family album. So what motivates a woman in labour to permit someone to capture her most private moment? The reasons vary from just wanting to document the birth of a child, to being more at ease, knowing that instead of relying on their partner's wobbly camera work, they have a professional birth photographer, who is their best bet, when it comes to making them look as good as possible.

Did you know?
Photoshoots of women posing with a pregnant belly are passe. The new trend is to photoshop sonograms onto their pregnant bellies. The photographers behind the 'art' explain why the trend is catching on abroad. "Women love seeing what their children look like on their belly. They find it intriguing," photographer Shelly Kuhn who photoshops sonograms said. "I'd love to do more. But there is a debate over whether it's morbid and disgusting or beautiful."

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