Approve Professional Cesarean Birth Photography for Sunshine Coast Women (Qld)

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What do we want for the birthing mothers of the Sunshine Coast?

Women on the Sunshine Coast giving birth either vaginally or via caesarean section who would like their birth photographed should have the right to do so. Time and time again Photographers booked to document cesarean sections are turned away at the last minute despite mothers being given the go a head from OB’s, Midwives and Anaesthetists at appointments in the lead up to surgery which leaves mothers disappointed and upset at an already nerve-wracking time.

Many Hospitals in Australia and around the world already allow this to take place so we are not asking for any extreme changes to hospital policies. It is however asking that the restrictions and limitations on cesarean birth photography in both public and private hospitals be reassessed and altered so that birthing mothers on the Sunshine Coast are given equal right when it comes to photographically documenting their birth experiences. 

There are many photographers who already photograph births and have set up fantastic safe working relationships with many hospitals. Birth photographers work often and aren’t intrusive and respectfully navigate the birthing room so not to sabotage sterile environments.

Just because something has been done successfully a particular way, it doesn't mean that change will be detrimental to the outcome. As we evolve so should our policies thats also encourage effectual change. 

Why professional photography?

The use of professional photography is becoming rapidly sought after, namely due to women taking a proactive role in their birth choices and experience.

Birth photography not only aids to breakdown social stigma and misconceptions about birth culture and the ability to share images also opens a platform for discussion and further education surrounding birth.

15% of women will sure from depression, anxiety or mental illness during pregnancy with an even larger number being recorded during the postnatal period. In Queensland, suicide is the leading cause of death for women during pregnancy and within 12 months of the end of a pregnancy. Yet women who have had their births photographed have reported feeling more connected to their birth experience.

During birth it is known the neocortex part of the brain switches off allowing a womens primal urge to take over and purely focus on bringing baby down and out. Photographs are the perfect visual to piece together the fragments the mothers memories allowing her to process the whole birth experience. Birth Photography plays a powerful role in healing birth trauma.

Coming out of birth alive while of the utmost importance should not be the only end goal, we need to do better. The emotional, physiological and physical health of both mother and baby are paramount especially if we are to reduce the rate of PND and future the mother-baby bond.

What about Cesareans?

Despite the World Health Organisations (WHO) recommendation of 10-15% of all births the overall cesarean section rates have increased dramatically in the last 10yrs for under 20% to a whooping 32%, with a 45% increase in elective cesareans compared to the 22% for emergency cesareans. 

Many women electing to have cesareans have suffered some sort of birth trauma in the past and may have great fears around surgical births. Photography acts as a powerful tool for healing where a woman hopes to replace any ill feelings of previous births with positive and empowering ones or to help become connected to her birth experience where she may be grieving the birth she wanted. 

While the primal state isn’t active in a cesarean birth, the photographs allow a woman to see just how strong and powerful she is when feeling otherwise.

What do we want to achieve?

We request that the current policies that restrict and disallow the presence of a photographer during a womans birth be reevaluated and changed so women have the right to choose whether their birth is photographically documented.

Our promise

We understand policies are in place for protection of patients, staff and the hospital itself. In order for these policies to be beneficial to all we acknowledge it is our role to work with policy makers to create new policies that are advantageous to all.

We would appreciate a prompt response to this petition.

We thank you in advance for your consideration of this matter.


Parents, Photographers and all who believe in this petition.

What Mother have to say!!

"On 11/6/18 I was booked in for a repeat CS at SCUH. I made this decision based on my previous delivery and due to this being my final child I was hoping to have some professional photos taken to celebrate the occasion. I organised a photographer to document our pregnancy and birth and spoke with a number of hospital staff including the head OB, midwives and the anaesthetic team during my interview, and no-one seemed to have any major concerns with this happening. However on the morning of the birth I mentioned to the midwife that I had organised a photographer and she said she would have to speak to the anaesthetics team to see if they allowed it. This is when a more senior nurse came into my room and simply said no, I can’t have anyone else in theatre. No explanations or reasons were given. To say I was disappointed, extremely upset and feeling discriminated against is an understatement. I was not going to be able to have the birth of my final child documented by my professional photographer due to the fact I was having a c section. Had I elected to have a natural birth, this would not be an issue." 

"The birth of my first child was a planned cesarean due to pregnancy complications, there was no choice for me and it wasn't an emergency situation. I can barely recall how my sons birth unfolded, I can remember some sensations and a few words exchanged with the anaesthetist but I do not recall the moment i first laid eyes on my son, there was no skin to skin, he was swiftly taken to be checked over then rugged up and handed to his father. The first photo we have of him was a crappy shot taken when he was about 8mins old. If photographers were permitted in theatre I can guarantee I would remember a hell of a lot more and the most important time in my life would be beautifully preserved. It saddens me that the more time that passes the less I can remember. Things need to change"

"Photography of my cesarean section would have meant the world to me.
Throughout my pregnancy I was very upfront with hospital staff that having a trusted photographer attend theatre, as well as my husband, was part of my birth plan.
The months of my pregnancy, whilst I was a client of the health service I was not once told that this would not be allowed. I spoke with several midwives and clinicians who simply said they were not sure what the protocol was.
I took the steps to try and get in contact with the nurse unit manager to ensure that this would be ok. I wrote a letter and made sure the staff knew it was part of my birth plan and also included information that my photographer had insurances and professional registrations to put them at ease of her ability to work within the constraints of theatre.
We were eventually told that the photographer could attend on the day, however it would be the discretion of the staff in theatre at the time.
We were happy to take that chance as my photographer has a working relationship with many of the health service employees.
The day of my c section we were all prepped for theatre, photographer included. She had scrubbed in, and met briefly with the obstetrician and anesthetist. All was looking really great but at the very last moment she was denied entry by theatre staff as it had not been formally approved by the theatre NUM.
I was devastated and really frustrated that the health service had no clear policy or channel of communication in regards to this request.
This is not a medical procedure akin to shoulder reconstruction or laparoscopy. This is the BIRTH of a child and deserves the chance to be photographed if the mother requests so. I fully believe health services need a policy in place that approved suppliers are able to perform this service and I welcome this change to occur."

"On June 9th 2016 I was lucky enough to have a my photographer capture the most precious photos of my cesarean. I was told this was the first photographer allowed in theatre as it’s usually prohibited.
My first baby was born naturally and I didn’t get the chance to have any photos of the birth, so I knew with my second baby I wanted professional photos as a keepsake. I spoke to my midwife about getting a photographer and she told me I wouldn’t be allowed, instead to get my partner to take the photos. I was devastated and almost dropped the idea, however my next appointment I had a different midwife so I decided to ask her and this time explain how important these photos were. Luckily she was able to give me the email of Nambour Hospital's theatre manager who may be able to help.
After many emails back and forth I had to provide all of my photographer's information to her and she then had to go even higher by running it past her supervisor. So just days before my scheduled cesarean I finally got the okay and my photographer was approved to be in theatre to capture baby Julian’s birth. I believe that it was approved only because of my photographer had liability insurance.
It was an incredible experience and I felt so privileged to have that experience and the photos and indescribably precious to me."


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