Ways to Be a Birth Photographer Hospital Staff Loves Working With! (with Trisha Ware)

Birth photographers – have you ever felt unsure of yourself in a hospital birth?

Like you’re not sure how to make nice with the nurses so you can stand where you want to stand to get the shots you want to get? Or maybe you’ve never photographed a hospital birth but navigating all the what-ifs when it comes to being in the way feels a bit overwhelming?

I had the honor to interview Trish Ware, a labor and delivery nurse AND birth educator to show you some tips and tricks on how to be a birth photographer that hospital staff will love working with!

I am excited to dive into this interview that we recorded on Facebook Live in our free Facebook group for birth photographers. And if you’re a birth photographer and you’re not hanging out there, definitely join myself, Trish, and over 5,000 birth photographers worldwide! You can join at taviaredburn.com/fbgroup.

Ways to Be a Birth Photographer Hospital Staff Loves Working With! (with Labor Nurse Mama Trish Ware)

Meet Trish!

Tavia: Welcome! I’m so excited to have you. Can you please tell us a little bit about you and what you do?

Trish: So like you said, I am a labor and delivery nurse turned online birth educator. I’ve been a labor and delivery nurse for many, many years, so I’ve seen a lot of changes, even just the evolving of birth photographers as well. So I think when I first started as a labor and delivery nurse, it was usually like, you know, very specific type of patients that had birth photographers. It wasn’t as widespread. So I love what you guys do and I’m super happy to be here with you guys.

Tavia: That’s awesome. I love hearing that. Where are you located?

Trish: I’m outside of Nashville.

Tavia: Okay, cool. I love hearing whenever just like the general public knows about birth photography because for us it kind of seems like everybody should know about birth photography because it’s so relevant to us. So it’s exciting to hear that more and more people are catching on to how awesome it is.

Trish: Yeah and I think, like I’m in Nashville, but I do a lot of travel nursing. And I feel like maybe on the west coast it’s more popular and I’ve even seen it spread into being more popular on this coast as well. So I think that’s exciting to know. But I don’t know that everybody knows about it.

Tavia: No, they don’t. It feels that way because we’re so immersed in it, right? But in reality there’s a lot of people who still don’t know about birth photography. Have you worked with a lot of birth photographers as a labor and delivery nurse?

Trish: I wouldn’t say a lot. I’ve definitely had a steady amount of them throughout my career, but I still think that there’s a lot of people that don’t prioritize that. I feel like more people should, for sure, capture their birth. I don’t think as many as I think I would love to have worked with throughout my career.

Tavia: I’m just curious, what percentage would you say? Is it like 1% or like 10%?

Trish: I would say less than 10% of the births that I’ve done. I think that for me, throughout my career – and I have a lot of connections in different types of birth, whether it’s home birth, birth centers, or high-risk centers, which I’ve done most of my career in high-risk labor and delivery. I think that a lot of the people I know in my life, and now students, because I have thousands of online students, I think the majority of my birth center students and home birth students, know more about the idea of having a birth photographer. Whereas I think in a high-risk facility it’s less numbers.

Working with Birth Photographers from a Nurse’s Perspective

Tavia: That makes sense. So what would you say, if you can remember, stands out to you about the birth photographers that you’ve worked with? Are there things that you’ve liked about working with birth photographers or maybe things about having them there that made your job more challenging? Can we talk a little bit about that?

Trish: Yeah, and I’ve been pondering on this and thinking of this since we’ve talked about it. And I think there’s a couple really important things as a labor and delivery nurse, and especially as a high-risk labor and delivery nurse. I think if you’re working in the high-risk arena as a birth photographer, I think it’s a little different for you that you should definitely go in knowing certain things.

But I think for me, it’s almost similar to having a doula in the room in some sense, because you are there, your job as the birth photographer is there to capture her birth and capture the emotions and the happenings in the room, and all the little things. But I think I’ve had experiences with birth photographers and doulas who spend a lot of time talking to me and asking questions about the birth and what’s happening and all this, and I really feel like that is not the role of support people for a birth.

I think your role is supporting her in the area that you are supporting her, and in this case, it would be capturing these moments and these feelings and just kind of fading back into the wall per se, which is almost my job in some sense too, is stepping back because it’s about her process of her birth.

Tavia: Yeah, it does. So when they’re asking you questions, is it things specific to that family or is it like ‘what comes next’ kind of a thing? Maybe someone who’s newer.

Trish: I think that I’ve had experiences with a few, and obviously when you have an experience that stands out different, it stays in your memory more. But I remember having an experience where I felt like the photographer tells me all about her birth and what happened to her birth and asking me questions to clarify what happened in her birth and it felt a little bit awkward for me. I’ve not had that happen a lot though.

But I think that for us in general, birth experiences bring out our, “Oh, I can connect to that.” Especially if you’re a photographer who’s had babies. And maybe your love for birth has drawn you to that as well. But that’s not the time and place, I don’t think, to absolutely in that way ask questions about your birth.

And I have a lot of doulas who also take my birth courses and I tell them the same time, same thing: it’s all about mama and her partner.

Tavia: I’m so glad that you mentioned that because I 100% agree and that’s something that I learned along the way is that it is so easy to want to talk about your own births and your own experiences, especially when you click with your client or the nurse and you want to share like, “Oh, this is what I did,” or whatever.

But like you said, it is absolutely not the time and place, especially with the nurse to start talking about your own birth story, and especially having you diagnose something that happened in their birth or whatever.

Trish: Unfortunately, I think a lot of us have birth trauma from our own experience and we don’t have a safe place to talk about that, which is why I do what I do. So I think that might be related to why. Because I mean that happens to me in public, when people find out that I’m a labor and delivery nurse. But I think that it’s knowing your role there is so important because there is really nothing like looking back on your birth picture and so much happens during your birth that you don’t even recall because you’re in the labor zone. So I think that your role there is so important.

Tavia: Yeah. And you actually have a part in their story. Whether that’s good or bad, whether that’s a fly on the wall or engaged, or talking too much or talking too little, you have a part in their story. Both you as a labor and delivery nurse and us as photographers, anyone in that room like what you just said.

How to Navigate Birth Spaces Shared with Hospital Staff

Tavia: I think that something that comes up for a lot of photographers, especially newer photographers, when they’re going into a labor and delivery room, they have these ideas of the shots that they want to get for their clients. And they’re not sure how to work with hospital staff and nurses to get where they need to get in order to get these types of shots because they don’t really want to be in the way, but they also want to be able to serve their clients.

So let me give you an example: a lot of times I want to stand opposite sides of the partner, which is always where the heart monitor, the IV, all that stuff is over on the opposite side, and that’s where I want to stand because I want to be opposite and see both of their reactions, right? And so, it can be kind of an awkward situation to be.

Is it okay if I stand where I know that you need to be? So what would you say to a photographer who’s trying to navigate that and get great images for their clients, but also feels uncomfortable and doesn’t want to be in the way?

1. Know the Medical Workers’ Path of Emergency

Trish: So I am definitely an enigma when it comes to being a labor nurse because I’m all about the natural process of birth and I’m not very territorial. However, there are a lot of labor nurses who are. But still, when I have a room full of family, and I would say the same thing – things have changed a lot with COVID as far as all of that – but I always show my family members, and if I have a photographer or a doula, my emergency zone. I have a path of where my emergency is and there’s sections that if poop hits the fan, basically, I need to be. So if it’s not an emergent thing going on, I have no problem.

I would say the best thing to do is talk to the labor nurse. When you get there, let her know. My emergency zone is right by the monitor, by the IV, between my patient and the monitor, and then from the end of the bed to the warmer where the baby needs to go. Because if I need to get that baby to the warmer, I don’t need you right behind me where I’m bumping you with a wet newborn, you know?

2. Read the Room

Trish: So I think knowing her path of emergency and also reading the room. So if you have a team of nurses running in real quick, you need to get out of the way and move, which I’m sure you guys know this. But I think having a dialogue when you first get there and introducing yourself, we’re all like semi self-focused, so letting her know, “I so appreciate what you’re doing. I love what you’re doing and I want to capture this birth, but I also want to respect your zones. I’d like to get over here and get these shots. Is that okay with you? Is there a time when it’s not okay with you?”

Just say, “Hey, feel free to say, ‘Hey, move out, move over there.’” And just knowing that, again, I’m super laid back in the birth room, but I know some nurses that are not and do not like anybody in their space. So I think just talking to you about that upfront is really important.

Tavia: I love that you said we’re all kind of like us-focused. It’s important to remember that too to go up to the labor and delivery nurse and just honor what they’re doing and just say, “I’ve seen you do this or that. Thank you for serving this family this way. Here’s what I’m here to do. Is there a way that we can kind of work together so that I’m not in your way, but we can still get great shots for this family?”

Trish: Yeah. Feed that ego a little.

Tips To Create A Great Working Relationship With Other Birth Vendors

Seek to Establish a Positive Birth Space

Tavia: Yeah, 100% I love that. So what would you do if you were the photographer in that situation and you had a nurse who seemed like she didn’t really want you to be there, or maybe was having a bad day, would you still approach her with what you just said?

Trish: Well, hopefully you’re approaching her semi-quickly after the patient gets admitted or when you first meet her. I’m hoping at that point she hasn’t really shown her attitude to that degree. I mean, I teach my students how to fire their nurses, so I wholeheartedly believe that everyone in the birth room should all it be about mom, about her experience, and any negativity or attitude is going to take away from her experience, and she doesn’t need that.

I wholeheartedly believe that everyone in the birth room should all it be about mom, about her experience, and any negativity or attitude is going to take away from her experience, and she doesn’t need that.

Appreciate Your Co-Workers

Trish: So if it’s one of my students, they’re going to feel that and see that as well, and they’re going to know how to handle that too, so that you guys wouldn’t have to handle like a really bad attitude. But I would say doing that right from the beginning. Some of the most difficult nurses I know, if you do that and feed her ego a little. For the nurses who wouldn’t need that, it’s just going to be kind and whatever. But there are just some nurses that need to retire from labor and delivery.

But for them, I think just reminding them why they’re there and why you all are there and that you appreciate her, I think that’s going to go a long way right from the get go. I wouldn’t wait until she’s shown you an attitude or made you feel like you’re not welcome.

Bring Gifts!

Tavia: Yeah, so good. So Becky said, is it valuable to bring goody bags for nurses and hospital staff (after the birth of course) like a little bag of chocolates, tea bags, some business cards, or is that being too forward?

Trish: No, I think all of us nurses love being appreciated and the majority of people like getting gifts, but I would say do it when you introduce yourself. I wouldn’t wait until afterwards in my opinion. But I would have maybe just like a little thing introducing yourself and as you introduce yourself to her and how thankful you are that you’re able to be a part of this birth journey and document it and how much you appreciate what she does.

I think for me now as a birth educator, I would have more influence on my students hiring birth photographers. I don’t think the labor nurse will per se, but trust me when I say there’s a lot of pregnant labor and delivery nurses, so that’s good. But I think just just handing that over as a part of what you do in your process where it’s not awkward, that would be my suggestion.

Tavia: I love that. And also, like you said, they could be pregnant and I agree that by the time that labor and delivery nurse is not in a position where they’re going to be referring people to you. But they could start following on Instagram, they could start telling if they have a good experience with you, that probably says a lot to them. And they could very well be a referral source, having never actually hired you, but just being in that room with you and seeing how you are with the family.

Offer to Take Photos of Your Co-Workers

Trish: Yeah. And that leads me to something else I wanted to say to you because I have had weird experiences with being posted on social media, especially when I worked in Florida. And I think this is a perfect time to do this, especially if you do a lot on social media, I think when you give her also say to her, “Hey, I’d love to get a couple shots of you, if that’s okay? And I’ll tag you on social media if that’s fine with you? If not, do you prefer that I don’t post your picture?” I never cared if people did, but some people do care. But I think it’s another way to feed her ego in some sense.

Plus, it’s really incredible for us. We don’t get many shots of us doing what we do. So as if you get a shot of just her working, that’s something valuable to her as well.

Tavia: Thank you so much for saying that, because that’s something that we talk a lot about with like home birth midwives and doulas in that setting because they can use it for promotion. And while a labor and delivery nurse doesn’t need to use it for promotion, it’s still just another way to help birth photography, honestly, as a whole. Because whenever hospital staff, whether it’s the nurse or anybody in that building, has a good experience with a birth photographer, it just paints it in a nice light for them in general, speaking of birth photography and telling people about it.

Trish: Most of the pictures we see of ourselves are on our patients pages, and they’re absolutely not flattering. In my own birth, I have a picture of my nurse when Grayson was placed on me, and she is making the most awkward face, but it’s when Grayson was placed on me. So, of course I wanted to post it, right? But every time it comes up in my memories, I feel so bad for that nurse.

Not that we’re friends, not that I’ve tagged her. But the majority of the times when my patients tag me in a photo, I’m like, “Ohhh no.”

Trish: Right, because you’re not like thinking about the camera, you’re like doing what you need to do. So if you get a good one of her, that’s good.

Honor and Respect Hospital Workers’ Duties

Tavia: I love that. I love adding that little bit in when you talk to her, when you very first like say hi and that kind of a thing. Super smart. Are there any things that you can think of that you wish birth photographers knew about working with nurses and people in hospitals?

Trish: Other than what we’ve said, I guess just remembering that we have a specific job that we’re doing and I think just honoring that and respecting that and our workspace, and the fact that there are times we need to get to her very quickly.

And I think one thing I really have learned on this side of the labor bed now being an educator, I have two birth classes, one for all mamas, and then I have one for moms going for a VBAC, which is a vaginal birth after cesarean, I have learned so much from these moms.

And I don’t know what all hospital policies are about you guys going into the OR, but one thing I would tell you guys, if you’re able to go into a C-section, I have heard from my VBAC moms who have ended up having a repeat C-section. We had one mom, one of my first students, the nurse captured the baby coming out of her abdomen, and that was a life changing photo for that cesarean mom. So that was something I really wanted to say to you, that if you’re able to be in the OR and you’re able to get that photo of the baby coming out of her abdomen, for my student, that was the first time she felt like she had birthed her babies because she didn’t have that picture of them being put up on her chest or feel them coming out, so she was able to see her baby coming out and like, “Oh wow, that baby did come out of me.”

So that was something I really think is valuable for you guys to know that these cesarean moms, they need to see the connection to the birth with them because they’re not feeling that connection. I think that would be something, I know that’s totally random, maybe not what you’re asking.

How Can You Work Around Unfavorable Hospital Policies

The Problem

Tavia: No, that’s perfect. In fact, that made me think of another question that comes up a lot, and that is do you have any tips for getting into the OR? For me here in Oklahoma City, I’ve photographed so many births, I sort of know what the policies are in different hospitals. But I know a lot of newer birth photographers, or even established ones, have a hard time sometimes getting into the OR, and this is pre and post COVID.

There’s hospitals that flat out will not allow an additional person other than the partner. So you can have one person in there. And you guys, one time I had a mom who chose me instead of her husband to come into the OR with her because she wanted the photos that badly. And she’s like, “He’s squeamish. He’ll be fine. He can see the baby afterwards. I want Tavia to come in with me,” which I thought was so funny. That’s the only time that’s ever happened.

Trish: I feel like that’s kinda what I would do in some sense. But I guess this is a two-fold thing because this is something I have a huge issue with because there’s really no reason for a birth photographer or a doula or two people to come with mom into the OR because trust me, when we want more team members, we’ll have whoever we want. Whether we’re training new doctors, we’re training new nurses. So this is what makes me such a rogue labor and delivery nurse, and probably at this point has like a wanted poster on all hospitals.

Tavia: We’re here for it, Trish.

Trish: Yeah, it’s very maddening and the problem goes way beyond you guys being able to go in there.

The problem is that it’s not treated as a birth experience or honored for the mom and for these C-section moms. That could all be changed on how we handle it, and that’s something that I think that needs to be mom discussing with provider.

The Solution

Trish: And you know, there’s key people in that room that make decisions. One is the OB, obviously. The other is the anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist is the one who makes the biggest fuss about who can be in there. And I think that all of us as people birthing babies demanding change when it comes to the operating room. And I think that you guys being allowed in there that should be standard. But the problem across the board is that a lot of hospitals are not what we call baby-friendly or birth-friendly.

And so I think it would start with mom talking to her provider. Especially if she knows that she’s a scheduled cesarean and she’s hired you saying, “This is really important to me. This is my birth experience. This is the only time I get to birth this baby.”

So I don’t think that that’s going to be something that you guys necessarily will be able to approach as photographers, but women delivering at a hospital or families. But I think this is why I do what I do. Because the birth culture, especially in the US, needs to change.

And why in the world can she not take pictures of her birth if it’s a belly birth? There’s no reason that shouldn’t be allowed. Now for the hospitals that allow it, she’s going to have to have that dialogue with her provider earlier to find out for sure. Day of [the birth], it is not going to work. Unless that’s what they do and they already let it, but policies are able to be changed. And I tell my students all the time, you can refuse those. I haven’t worked at many facilities that let two people in.

Tavia: Yeah, I think it’s pretty common. But I love how you said empower the families to have that conversation, even if it’s uncomfortable. But I know that you’ve probably encountered this. I sure have with my clients. They don’t feel like they can question things. They don’t feel like they can say something to their doctor or talk about hospital policy.

Trish: Well, my students do.

Tavia: Yeah, there you go!

Trish: So send them my way! Tell them to come to me, because that is 100% why I do what I do, because I got sick of it myself of watching women being coerced. And there is this collective thought for most women that they want their provider to like them, they want their labor nurse to like them, they don’t want to offend, they want to please. And that has to change because again, this is her one and only birth experience with this baby. And there’s just way too much birth trauma to go around at this point.

There is this collective thought for most women that they want their provider to like them – they don’t want to offend, they want to please. And that has to change because again, this is her one and only birth experience with this baby.

Facilitating Empowering Conversations with Moms as Birth Photographers

Tavia: So if we were to have like a brief conversation with our clients, I actually wrote a blog post about why I’m not allowed into the OR with you many years ago for my clients, just to help them understand that I truly believe that C-sections are worth photographing and I am a C-section and VBAC mom myself, and it’s very important to me, all of that. But like you said, hospitals have no reason to listen to us birth photographers or doulas. We’re not the ones paying them. We’re not their patient, right? And so what kind of conversation, after we send them to your courses, so that they feel super empowered, can we have as birth photographers to help them feel empowered to have that conversation with their provider?

Trish: That’s a really hard one and you know, I do weekly Zoom hangouts with my students for this exact reason, because they can have the knowledge, but knowledge is only power if you apply it. And so, I think that’s going to be an ongoing process because we’ve been taught that ‘that’s the doctor,’ we’ve not been taught that we’ve hired the doctor, just like they hired you. Just like they’re hiring me in a sense, hiring the hospital. So, I think our birth culture has to change for that to be easier for her because unfortunately, there’s a lot of coercive language and a lot of bullying when it comes to birth.

So, I think, reminding her that she has rights. I mean, you guys are walking a fine line as well, where I can be way more bold. But I think just reminding her that she has rights and this is her birth experience, it’s not a medical process, and she hired this provider.

So, I think, reminding her that she has rights and this is her birth experience, it’s not a medical process, and she hired this provider.

And this is why I teach my students how to fire their labor nurse. There needs to be no negativity in the labor room. It’s got to be all support, whether it’s in the OR. So that’s a hard one for me because I think it really goes back to her being empowered to know she has rights and she has rights to speak up and just doing a lot of research about the facility.

And even maybe familiarizing yourselves with the different providers at the facilities that you’re working in, so that if you know, “Oh, this provider is totally 100% okay with me in the room, me in the OR,” then if your client is talking to you, because they can always switch providers as well if it’s really important with them. But I think it’s a battle that we all are battling right now to try to empower them to speak.

Tavia: So I hear you saying that me as the photographer, I can empower myself with knowledge of providers in my area, right? Like who can I potentially refer them to? And also, how can I, as a photographer, be a part of this bigger conversation, whether that’s on social media or on my blog, or in person with my clients, to just empower my community as a whole to let them know that they have rights and that hospital policy is not law, and that I can show them how I’ve made choices and how they can make you know their choices that’s right for them and their baby as well. Is that accurate?

Trish: Oh yeah. And I think also on your social media and on your blogs, if you have empowering pictures of a belly birth and a hospital birth, and even this is for me, and I say this to my students, if they can do that in Utah, then surely as heck they can do it in Florida.

Women’s bodies are the same. We’re the same. The process is the same. So for some providers, you know from being a VBAC mom, there’s so many roadblocks. If a provider can do a VBAC in this situation here, then they can do it here. They can’t say they can’t.

So, I think even posting those pictures and mentioning like how powerful this birth experience was that you were able to document and you were able to be in the OR with her. I think it’s just all of us speaking up and demanding change instead of just accepting that this is what it is and I have no power.

The Importance of Birth Education

Tavia: Yeah. That’s so good. Helen just said she loves this talk because she dreads hospital birth, because sometimes it’s so hard to watch the bullying or false information and I totally agree and I think that we as photographers have an interesting perspective similar to you as L&D Nurse because you have no control over who’s coming in.

Photographers often get hired by a wide range of clients, meaning they’re not all always crunchy or wanting a natural birth. As opposed to a doula who, very generally speaking, has a typical type of client who probably is wanting a VBAC or a natural birth or has something kind of in mind is why they’re hiring a doula. Or at least when I was giving birth that’s how it was with doulas. And so I think that we have an interesting perspective as birth photographers in that we see a lot of things happen. And sometimes the families are oblivious, sometimes they don’t care, and it’s not our role to say anything or do anything about it, and we just sit and watch it happen.

And so it can be really hard to be in a hospital birth sometimes, especially as moms who have different birth trauma or different birth experiences ourselves to then sit back and keep our mouth shut and just kind of, you know, “This is not my birth. I’m not the doula.” You know what I mean?

Trish: Yes, I absolutely know exactly what you mean. This is why I spend 70 to 90 hours a week educating women because, it’s really a sad thing that’s happening. And unfortunately, I’m in the same boat and I tell my students, as your labor nurse, I educate the stink out of my patients. However, I have to follow the doctor’s orders. I have no right unless she refuses something. Then I can refuse it for her and I can advocate for her. So I’m in the same boat.

And there’s a lot of labor nurses who use coercive and bullying tactics, so I can say that as well. But there’s a lot of us who just don’t.

And the sad thing is, the mom’s job is to labor her baby out. She should not have to deal with that. She should not have to be defending her choices. She should not have to wonder this and this is why education’s so important.

And I would say that the most important thing is that she’s educated. So I teach my students this, interventions are way overused. No doubt about it. Bullying tactics, way overused. However, thank God we have cesareans. Thank God we have vacuums. Thank God we have all these interventions.

But I teach my students to know when they’re necessary and also know when it’s being offered out of convenience or curiosity. So that’s our big C’s in my class is curiosity and convenience, we avoid that at all costs. But I think it’s really important to note that her main job at that point is just to labor. So she has to have advocates for her, which is usually her doula or her partner.

So the partner needs to be educated as well. And I can’t imagine what you guys have seen because I’ve been doing this for 16 years. So trust me when I say I’ve driven home weeping because I know that that patient should not have been taken back to the OR and she was taken back, so a provider could go home. And that is not what she was told.

And like you said, you guys are seeing it from a big picture. She’s seeing it from in the moment. And if someone says to you, “Well, your baby could die,” then hell yeah, you’re going to do whatever they say, you know? So, it comes with education before she walks in and she should not have to worry about trying to understand all the things. She should have that education foundation in place, and then a team who can advocate for her. And obviously I don’t think that’s going to be the role of the photographer at that point. But seeing your clients more educated, so that we all see that change. It has to change, you know?

Connect with Trish!

Tavia: Yeah. So important. I have one more question, but I want you to tell everybody about where they can connect with you and your courses, because I think that this is a great conversation when we’re talking about how to help equip our clients, a very simple way to make our clients’ lives better and our lives as photographers better would be, like Trisha is saying, for them to be equipped ahead of time and know what’s going on with birth ahead of time. So, tell everybody where they can connect with you after this, as well as what you have to offer for families.

Trisha: Yeah, so you guys can find me, my main place I hang out is on Instagram and it’s @labor.nurse.mama. I also have my blog, which is labornursemama.com, and then I offer a range of birth classes. But the two signature classes are Calm Labor Competent Birth and then The VBAC Lab. And both of those are online, self-paced, lifetime access.

But what really makes a difference, I believe, and where I’ve really poured myself into my classes and made them different, because there’s a lot of really amazing birth classes out there, but I also give them access to me and I have a team of doula that I’ve hired. And so they have a virtual labor nurse and a virtual doula, and then we have a private student community that I say they get up until one year postpartum, but my girls don’t go away.

And we meet weekly. Like I said, we have, we call it the happy hour and we meet weekly and we hang out. So, she may have gone to the doctor and they’re like, “Oh, well, your baby’s bigger,” or whatever it is that they use, and so we can walk through that, and they have access to all those recordings, and they’re able to really learn how to own their birth. And that’s what’s most important is that they’re owning their birth journey.

And so we do have a referral program that you guys could have access to as well. We also have a private chat for our students. Once they hit 37 weeks, they have a text message option with me and my doula as a group. So when they’re in the hospital, if I’m awake, then the nurses or the providers are saying, “Oh, well we need to do this,” then they can reach out to me and say, you know, I don’t give them medical advice. But I tell them, this is what I would do if this were me or my patient or my sister, or what have you.
So I think that’s what really sets my classes apart is because I really believe this birth culture has to change. It has to.

Tavia: Yeah. I think that I can somewhat confidently say pretty much everyone listening to this agrees with you. And based on the comments, I know that’s true. I love that you have a referral program because you guys, this could be so valuable for us as photographers to serve our clients and also get a little kickback as well of like, “Hey, yeah, I can make a little money referring this,” and serve my clients really, really well, knowing that they’re in good hands.

So where can people learn more about that? Should they go to your website?

Trish: Well, if you go, I’m saying this, I just hired a manager for this aspect of the courses. But I think if you go to labornursemama.com, I think at the bottom, it may say affiliates or referral. I’m not sure, but I can also give you that as well. We absolutely 100% love our students and want them to have the best birth possible.

Tavia: Yeah. And I know I’ve always felt that way about my clients, probably to a fault because it’s out of my control. You know what I mean? So, this has been such a good conversation all about really just birth and birth photography and how to get into those situations.

When and When NOT to Take Photos During Emergencies

I have one more question that I want to ask and that is about emergencies. Kind of going into back to birth photographers in the room. A lot of photographers struggle to know like when to stop taking photos and also thinking about the client and processing something that might have happened, but also thinking about I know that providers typically are thinking about liability, so there’s a lot there. Do you have a recommendation or like a general rule of thought when it comes to when and when not to take photos during emergencies?

Trish: So I think, I’m the worst to ask this because I am so not, not a rule follower and I feel knowing your client is probably the first thing, and having a dialogue with her like, “If something unexpected happens, do you want me to document it? Do you want pictures?” I know a lot of hospitals, they don’t want you to document the baby coming out. I think that’s bogus. I personally would tell my photographer just do it anyway. And I would tell my students just do it anyway. I would not not do that. That’s a hard one for me because I am not a rule follower when it comes to that kind of thing.

I feel knowing your client is probably the first thing, and having a dialogue with her like, “If something unexpected happens, do you want me to document it? Do you want pictures?”

Tavia: It’s hard to find that balance. It’s hard to ride the line. Because I tend to be a little bit of a rebel in the same way, but at the same time, it’s like I have to maintain a good relationship with these hospitals or they’re going to potentially tell me I can’t come back. You know what I mean?

Trish: I wouldn’t have a loud noise happening if you’re taking pictures, do it on the sly maybe? But I think just knowing your client, knowing the room, and not getting in the way is the most important thing, I think, during emergency and being able to step back. But I also think like there’s so much value in you know, going to the warmer and getting pictures.

Now, if they’re resuscitating a baby, for heaven’s sake, I would not, I mean, I’m not sure parents would want pictures of something to that extent, but I guess it would depend on the emergent situation as well. If baby’s having a discoloration and they’re coming in to resuscitate, you know, we do resuscitative measures by turning on the fluids, putting oxygen on, I think having pictures of some of that might be valuable to her because she’s not going to remember any of that and that can lead to trauma. So, if we’ve got resuscitative measures going on, maybe not, maybe get a picture of dad or, you know, something to that effect. That’s a hard one.

Tavia: Yeah. I love the idea of talking to the client and understanding them personally and really knowing them as like a baseline of what to do next.

Trish: Yeah. I do that with my students. That’s why when I hang out with them, I know the ones that need a little extra push to speak up, and then I know the ones that aren’t going to take any slack. I think just knowing your client is really important and, and what does she want because it really matters most.

Delayed Cord Clamping

Tavia: So good. Such a good conversation. I want to keep this, I knew we could talk for a long time, but I want to be respectful of your time. Thank you so much for being here.

Trish: You’re welcome. And I just wanted to say that if you want to post in the group so they can ask me questions, because I saw some on cord clamping and stuff, but that’s fine as well and I’ll do my best to get to that.

Tavia: Let’s answer it. Let’s talk about cord clamping really quick. Is that okay?

Trish: Yeah, I saw that Tabitha asked about that, and that is a huge problem. And this is what I tell my students. I tell them to just ask until it’s done pulsating, which could be anytime from 30 seconds to three minutes, it can go very fast. And what that means is all of the blood comes out of the placenta into the baby. However, it’s visually impossible to lie and say, it’s done pulsating because the entire cord goes white, there’s no blood left in it.

So I teach my students, just because what’s being said now is, “Oh yeah, we do that, that’s policy anyway.” However, you aren’t going to be sitting there going “one Mississippi, two…” You have no idea. You just birthed your baby. However, your partner can keep an eye and see, “Yeah, the cord was completely white,” and so that’s what I teach my students to avoid that issue because unfortunately that happens lot.

Tavia: So good. Those make great photos, those fresh cords that are all like juicy…

Trish: Oh and the place placenta! The placenta, I feel like some parents do not want to see that, but I would talk to them ahead of time and make sure you have pictures of the placenta and you know, all of that stuff as well.

Tavia: Yeah, because you might as well. That’s always been my philosophy in birth photography is, worst case is you get a photo you don’t want and you delete it. You know what I mean? I would rather you have that photo of your placenta than be like, “I wish that I had seen my placenta.” You don’t get a second chance to see your placenta.

Trish: Yeah, exactly.

Tavia: So good. Thank you again, Trish.

Trish: You are so welcome. Thank you for having me! This was fun.

We’ve got all the links to connect with Trish and learn more about her programs in the show notes.
My friend, if you have a passion – it’s not an accident. Not everyone loves photography, or event planning, or real estate… whatever your passion is, it’s there for a REASON. What are you going to do with that passion? Get out there and make it happen! Have a great week y’all!

About Our Guest

Over the years, Trish has developed a reputation for making laboring mamas feel empowered and confident — even if she’s not in the labor room with them. What’s important to Trish is that you have access to the education you need to make informed decisions while you’re in labor.

She has spent many years analyzing the literature and her own experiences in the labor room, and she’s come to the conclusion that just 2 things lead to a successful avoidance of an unwanted birth story: a prepared and educated mama, who has proper support during labor! This is why she has empowered thousands of mamas through her powerful birth class, Calm Labor Confident Birth.

You can follow and connect with Trish on Instagram at @labor.nurse.mama

Check out her birth education resources and offers at her website.

Trish’s signature classes are Calm Labor Competent Birth and then The VBAC Lab, which are both online, self-paced, and lifetime access

Join her referral program and be an advocate for birth preparedness!


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