Raleigh Birth Photography by Manda's Memories

Birth Photography in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Fayetteville & Surrounding Areas

My Personal Birth Story | Michael | Birth Center Birth

Raleigh Birth Photography - Michael Ditzel - Julie-3_stomped2

My Oldest is 5 years old today. The past five year have been nothing short of amazing. We typically go into our kids room to wake them gently with the Birthday Song but this morning I was greeted by a smiling face at my bedside. I enjoyed my morning with the birthday boy. On the way to school we stopped at Dunkin Donuts to pick up Birthday Donuts for him and his class. He was so excited. After I dropped him off I went home and pulled up the images I have from his birth. I did not hire a professional (I immediately regretted it). My sister had my point and shoot camera and took what she could. I went through them and decided to re-edit them to the best I could given the jpeg quality (face.palm). I of course want to also share with you the story of his birth…


5 years ago… Tuesday April 26th


Joe and I went in for a midwife appointment.  Since we were 41 weeks along on that day they had to do a few tests.  They started with hooking me up to the monitor for a Non-Stress Test.  Once that was finished, they did a quick ultrasound to make sure Michael had enough fluid. They said that anything above a 6 is good and I was at a 10 (not sure how they measure but I figure 4 points higher than 6 had to be good!). Rita (my Midwife) checked me and found that I was 3cm dilated.  I was quite floored since I hadn’t felt any pain up to this point. Yes…braxton hicks here and there but nothing painful.  So I was very excited to learn that I have earned myself 3 free centimeters!  We were close there was no doubt but we didn’t know how close just yet.  Rita gave us some advice on how to get things moving along.  Sex was at the top of her list!  She said, “Go home and have sex!”

“We did that last night though,” I said.

“Do it again… and once more. I mean once the baby comes it will be a while until you get the chance to do it so take advantage now,” Rita explained.

“Oh,” was all that came out of my mouth while Joe was sitting there winking at me.  What a Geep *nerd name I used to call my husband.

She also said to eat something that will upset my stomach.

“So let me get this straight… you want me to eat crap food for dinner?” I asked.

“Yup pretty much,” said Rita.

Joe chimed in with his big grin… “McDonalds it is then!”

So we went on our way back to Beaufort.  Yes, we had crap food that night for dinner and I made sure to eat all my fries, but my stomach cooperated with me and didn’t get upset.  Ugh…now I just had a bunch of calories that were unnecessary!  So we went to bed that night and I had a great nights sleep. (Probably to prepare for what was about to come…)


5 years ago… Wednesday April 27th


Joe went to work that morning and left around 7am.  I laid in bed for a little while after he left.  I then started feeling twinges in my lower abdomen around 8am.  They felt a little like menstrual cramps but they were different! Finally I thought this could be it!  They were mild as first, I felt them grow to a peak, and then they tapered off and I was pain free.  I thought for sure these were contrx.  So I started to time them.  They were only 10 minutes apart (give or take).  So it was early and we had some time!



I called Joe and made him come home.  I was home alone and didn’t really want to do this all by myself.  I then called Mom and she hopped in the car to head this way very shortly after the call.  With her 5 hours away, she was not going to chance anything, so left right away.  My sister also got a call and she left work early to get on the road as well.



Joe got home…I was still contracting. Nothing painful, so I took this time to relax and clean a little.  We walked Aria (our dog) to daycare.  Joe and I went to lunch with Julie.  We met my good friend Julie for a Mexican (of course) lunch.  I wanted to make sure these contrx were going to stick!  Spicy food was also supposed to help the contrx so I made sure to eat lots of salsa!  I had a great time…it was thrilling to know that Michael was coming!  Julie was also very excited for us as well!



After lunch Joe and I laid down…He slept, I did not, but the contrx were getting a little stronger.



Mom got to the house and Ashley was only 30 min behind her. We started to time the contrax again and they were at 6 min apart. They were getting to the point where I was having a hard time getting comfortable but nothing unmanageable.



So we called Birth Center and the Midwife, Rita, said to take a walk and eat some dinner.  Not what I wanted to hear of course, but I tried to oblige.  I sat at the dining room table and started to eat a turkey sandwich.  I took about 4 bites and I couldn’t sit anymore.  The pain was increasing and the time between contrx was decreasing.  Sitting was just not an option anymore.  I only felt relief leaning over something.



I gave Joe the phone and said…“HERE call Rita and tell her we are on our way. AND DON’T LET HER TALK YOU OUT OF IT!  Just tell her we did all she asked and now they are closer and stronger!”

Joe looked like a deer I headlights…poor guy.  But he did call Rita and he informed her that we were an hour away (give or take) and about to get in the car.  Now I thought about this car ride a lot.  I knew it wasn’t going to be pleasant, but I made the choice to go to Savannah so no one to blame but myself. So the time had come to get in the car and I did not want to sit!  No choice…I was told by my mom.  And she was right!  We laid the seat back so that all the pressure was not on my bottom and that helped.



We started off on the 45 minute car ride (Joe drove great by the way!). During that period of time I experienced about 15 contrx. Yup, no fun, but I had Joe’s hand and my yoga breathing techniques and we made it!  Of course when we got there no one was there.  I had to get out of the car so I was leaning against the car during contrx.  Sabrina (my Doula) arrived first and then Rita got there.



Once we were in the Birth Center, Rita hooked me up to the Fetal Monitor.  This is protocol to make sure the baby is handling the contrx well.  This also shows when you have contrx, they don’t measure intensity but Joe and Ashley sure thought it did – Ashley and Joe’s eyeballs about popped out of their head when they saw the number climb from 0 to 70 or 80.  If my face and breathing didn’t give it away, the number on the machine sure did.  Thank goodness I couldn’t see the machine.  I think watching the peaks get higher and higher would have been more torturous.  The element of surprise played an integral part during this portion of labor.



After about 1 hour of monitoring, Rita checked me to see how far along I was.

With certainty she told me, “Seven centimeters.”

My mouth dropped and all I could say was, “Holy Shit!”  The pain I was feeling was strong, but I didn’t expect 7cm.  With how people explain the pain of labor, always saying how ‘horrible’ and it’s the ‘worst pain in their life,’ I was thinking maybe I was 5 cm.  What I was feeling was painful no doubt, but manageable.  I knew my body wasn’t going to give me anything I couldn’t handle.  I was very relieved with 7 cm.  I was almost there!

I was the only one at the Birth Center so I got my choice of room…so I chose the room with dark furniture.  Not thinking…it was also the room furthest away from where I was at that moment.  I immediately regretted my decision as I walked past the other room during a contrx.  Once we got to the room I was immediately given an IV so that they could give me antibiotics because I was group B strep positive.  It only took 20 min to get the medicine in me, but laying on the bed was a nice little break.  I then opted to have Rita break my water.  She was able to break the sac however just a trickle came out.  She figured that his head was so engaged that it acted as a plug…Getting closer I thought to myself!



After the antibiotics were in, I wanted to get in the tub.  Joe got in there with me, he sat behind me so I could lean on his thighs.  Sabrina was sitting outside the tub in front of me.  She held my hand and talked me through the contrx.  She kept reminding me to stay relaxed in my jaw.  She also had me say ‘open’ or ‘out’ when I would breathe out.  After a while I was tired of saying those two words so I found a new favorite; ‘Owie!’  Joe found this particularly funny since he had never heard me say this word before.  According to him I did/said a lot of stuff that wasn’t ‘me’.  I stayed light hearted and tried to joke between contrx.  Sabrina made a great point later on that Rita was the perfect match for us, she was able to keep the mood light and we all joked off each other which brought laughs and smiles.  It was quite wonderful!  I was in the tub for about an hour I think, and my back was killing me. Joe asked if he could do anything and I told him to, “Stop moving the water!” A silly request I know, but the slight movement of water was hurting my back even more.

I remember asking Rita how I was going to know when to push. Her response was, “Oh you will know.”

“Really?” I asked. Rita nodded. “Because I want to push right now.  It hurts and I want him out!”

“Trust me, you will come to the point where you will NEED to push and you will know,” she explained.

We tried the shower next.  Rita wanted me on my knees…funny I thought!  I was concerned about being able to get up, but she assured me that with all these people they would be able to help me.  So I was down on my knees leaning over the seat and Rita was running the water over my back.  The whole position hurt but I knew (or suspected) that Michael was sunny side up so I needed to turn him.  This was a good position to achieve just that, but again my back was killing me.  The pain in my back hurt worse than the contrx…I can’t even explain it.


{Around 10:00pm}

After the shower I laid back down in the bed for another cervical check. I was 8 cm…so we are getting somewhere.  Rita wanted me in another position, she called it the ‘cookie’ position.  It was me laying on my side/stomach to aid in turning the baby from sunny side up.  Not the most comfortable, but I knew it needed to happen.  Joe was right there next to the bed holding my hand.  Looking into his eyes helped with the pain.  I know it may sound a bit crazy, but connecting with him kept my mind off the pain.  I would even smile during some contrx.  I don’t know how long I was there but Rita was right…I felt the urge to push.  It was intense.  Lots or pressure and pushing sounded like the only solution.  So I rolled over and Rita checked me again.  I was almost at 10 cm…still technically at 9 cm but Rita thought she could slip the lip of my cervix over during a push.


{11:10pm }

Let the pushing begin!  After a few pushes Rita was able to get his head through the cervix so now it was up to me.  I must say that pushing was the best part . I was most afraid of this…but it actually felt good to push.  It was a different pain, a pain that I knew was going to get me a baby really soon!  I got to reach down and feel his head.  That was weird but very neat at the same time!  They brought a mirror around so I could see just how close I was. Once I saw that I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel so I gathered all my energy to keep pushing.

I pushed for 44 min and finally his head was out.  In my daze I heard someone say the head was out and all I could say in response was, “Yeah I know!!! I CAN FEEL IT!”



The next push came the shoulders, and I reached down and pulled Michael the rest of the way and brought him to my chest.  Amazing!  All I kept saying was…“Oh my God, I love him!” and, “I can’t believe I just did that!”  It was truly an amazing experience.  He was a dirty, slippery, warm mess but he was so beautiful!  I can’t even explain the feelings that I felt when I finally got to look into his eyes and see his face!  Joe cut the cord shortly after midnight, and for the first time Michael and I were no longer one.  I passed him over to Joe so he could hold him!  I loved watching them bond.  He fell so in love with him and watching that moment was so rewarding; forever will that be in my memories!


Michael Adam-James, born at 11:54pm at the Savannah Midwife Group & Birth Center.

Weighing 8lbs 10oz and 20.5 inches long.

Here are some of the photos from his birth.

*All the photos taken that next morning are taken by Julie Gayler*

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How to Choose your Prenatal Care Provider



You’re newly pregnant – or planning to start trying. How do you know who to choose as your prenatal care provider? Doctor or Midwife? Hospital or Birth Center? Who do you ask; your friend or a facebook group? Is there a right answer? There are so many things to consider that you might just choose your current Woman’s Health Provider – or just the top Google hit (gasp!)

Raleigh Birth Photography - Lesley-117 BW_stomped2

When I found myself pregnant for the first time I chose to go with my current OBGYN. I liked her, and she was in a great practice (I assumed). The very first appointment I had with her I expressed to her that my desire was to have an intervention free birth (no epidural and no medications if possible). Her response was ‘we’ll see’. I was taken aback actually. I was not so sure about this anymore. I felt unsupported from my very first appointment and in my gut it just didn’t feel right.


Around 15 weeks I met a woman (now my best friend) who had 2 prior natural births and she shared with me her experience with non supportive providers – and that I would need to go in prepared. She laid it all out there – not to scare me but to inform me. She mentioned to me that I also had a choice to change providers and location if I wanted. I quickly came to the conclusion that a hospital birth didn’t fit my desires. I was healthy and low risk so I went for a tour at the Local Birth Center and we switched care almost immediately. We went on to have a low intervention, natural birth with my first son.


I went through a provider switch and I am so thankful I did. I was one of the lucky ones to get the birth I desired on the first try. So many of the women I meet wish they could have gone back and done their research and chosen the best provider for them and their birth desires. When I meet a woman who is just starting her journey to pregnancy or who is newly pregnant I want to give this this advice as far as choosing their provider:



Sit down and consider what is IMPORTANT to you for your birth (other than a healthy mom and baby – that’s a given!).

  • Is your pregnancy high risk?
  • Do you want an out of hospital birth or in hospital birth?
  • Are you planning an epidural or medication free or low intervention birth?
  • Are you planning a VBAC?
  • Is access to a tub for laboring in the water or having a waterbirth important to you?
  • Delayed cord clamping – have you considered if you want this?
  • Is distance to your home a factor for you?
  • How do you feel about non-emergent induction?
  • Do you want your baby’s bath delayed?
  • Think about what level NICU you feel comfortable with.
  • Cesarean – planned or not – what do you want available to you?

Take all the answers from the above points and create a list – For example… I am looking for a provider who delivers in a hospital close to *City*, who is supportive of low intervention and will not push an induction before 42 weeks.



Take your list and turn to trusted friends asking who they would recommend and why. Make sure you mention to them what your desires are. When you start to get some recommendations make sure you ask why they liked them or the location so much.

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to hear one local hospital recommended time after time because ‘their food is amazing’. Sure food sounds important – but if you end up with a cesarean (and it is possible their percent is up over 30%) then you don’t even get to enjoy their food for 24-48 hours.



If you haven’t quite found what it is you’re looking for – ask a Moms Facebook Group. Still be sure to include what it is most important to you. And challenge the responses – if you don’t think your goals align move on to the next recommendation.


Goo for interviews and tours! This is important! You want to make sure you feel comfortable with your provider and location. Ask the important questions (what is your transfer rate [for out of hospital births], what is your cesarean rate and do you offer clear drapes if desired, how do you feel about induction before 42 weeks, what is standard operating procedure after baby’s birth, what kind of lactation support do you offer, etc).


Understand that you have options and you can switch providers if you feel like the one you currently have is not the right fit. I did it – and many of my friends and family have as well. This is your birth and you get a say in it as well.

Your voice matters.

Raleigh Birth Photography | Caitlyn-149_stomped2

If you are interested in Birth Photography in the Raleigh & Durham Area please contact me HERE!

Raleigh Birth Photography | Home Birth | Tamika

Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-170 BW_stomped2

Raleigh Birth Photography | Home Birth in Sanford


Tamika and her husband had contacted me early on in their pregnancy. We met up at a local Crepe shop – so delicious! Tamika, a photographer her self, glowed with excitement! She also mentioned that she is a Black & White Photography fan; noted.

It was an early Friday Morning , I got the call that Tamika was in labor. I drove through the stormy weather and arrived just before the midwife. Mom was making quick progress and it wasn’t long before she found comfort in her birth tub. Surrounded by so much love and support she sailed through her contractions and she made it look effortless and beautiful.

The plan was for Dad to catch the baby, and once it was time he reached down and helped guide his baby up to mom’s chest. It was a wonderful moment to witness. The two of them took a quick peak and learned that it was a BOY! So much excitement filled the room, it was contagious!

As it tuned out – mom messaged me asking for me to include my color photos as well, there is just something magical seeing some of these photos in color!

Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-7 BW_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-9 BW_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-15 BW_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-26c_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-34_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-45 BW_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-50 BWc_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-70 BW_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-77 BW_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-81 BW_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-86 BW_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-109 BW_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-115 BW_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-120 BWc_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-124 BW_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-138 BW_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-158 BW_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-170 BW_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-175_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-176 BW_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-180 BW_stomped2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-195_stomped2

If you are interested in Raleigh Birth Photography, please contact me here.

Limited spots available.

Raleigh Birth Photography | Home Water Birth | Jessica’s Story

Raleigh Birth Photography - Jessica Branch-5 BW_stomped2_stomped2

Raleigh Birth Photography is excited to feature Jessica’s Birth Story and some photos from her Birth…


I wanted to write about the birth of Mattis, our third baby boy, but I quickly realized in order to get to the point of my husband and I deciding to have a home birth, it would take a little back ground info, well actually, a lot. This maybe more of a book than a typical “birth story” but I wasn’t one of those women that initially desired a home birth or even a natural birth. I think those women that know exactly what they want with their first child are incredible, and inspiring, but for me it wasn’t like that. Childbirth for me has been more of a “you live you learn” and confidence building journey more than anything else in my life. I didn’t really know what I wanted, or have the confidence in myself, because let’s face it, labor and birth is rarely shed in a positive light, and I had no idea how much it would mean to me to have a positive birth experience. Most think hey heathy baby, healthy mama, that’s all that matters….in my opinion, that isn’t true, the way you birth, the knowledge you have about it, and having medical professionals that TRULY support you MATTER!

Abram Colt-

In 2010 my husband and I found out I was pregnant with our first son. He was due October 17 and I was fortunate that I had a very smooth, easy pregnancy, although it was a record breaking heat that summer. Also, we were very fortunate that my husband was able to be there for the whole thing, every appointment with the exception of a few weeks away in Florida. Being a military spouse this is nearly unheard of. We didn’t have to worry about him not being there for the delivery. October 17th came and went and like most first time parents we were so anxious for our new arrival. Also as a lot of first time parents I had very little expectations for the labor and delivery. I knew what I knew about it from friends, movies, doctors, and a few terribly written books. So at 5 days past my estimated due date (which still in my mind was an expiration date) I decided well I guess my body just CAN’T go into labor….ill just settle for the hospital evicting this little guy. So I asked my doctor I’m ready when can I go? She said well we can schedule you for tomorrow. We went in and they just acted as if it was the most normal thing on earth, sign this, consent to this, do you want an epidural? Well of course why would anyone willingly go through the pain? So they hooked me up to monitors, IV, Pitocin, and epidural all within what seemed like 15 mins. I had already been dilated 5cm and 80% effaced since I was about 35 weeks, so things progressed rapidly. Although the person who did the epidural was a student he clearly did a great job, because I couldn’t feel hardly anything. I thought this was what I would have wanted, but I felt completely out of control and it didn’t help that I was shaking uncontrollably. A couple hours in, although I couldn’t feel much I felt pressure and let the nurse know, she came in and said I could push. She sat on one side, and David sat on the other and held my legs because I couldn’t feel them at all. I pushed and pushed and pushed, all directed by the nurse…finally after about 30 minutes of that she said oh that was it, that’s what you’re supposed to be doing…geez I was pretty disappointed and exhausted, but eventually about 30 mins later he was born. 8 lbs. 12oz and 21 1/2″ long! We had never guessed he would have been so big neither did the doc, they guessed around 7 1/2lbs the day before. The whole labor was about 3 1/2 hours long.


Birth is special no matter how it’s done, but for me his birth seemed to lack something, I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I don’t know if it contributed but about 2-3 months afterward I still didn’t feel anywhere close to myself, or how I anticipated myself as a mother. I was ashamed to admit I didn’t want to take care of my baby. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him, or that I literally didn’t care for him, but I was overwhelmed and didn’t feel motherly to him. I never told this to anyone except my husband and of course he didn’t understand, so we decided I should start therapy ASAP. I did, and was clinically diagnosed with postpartum depression, started several prescriptions of antidepressants and therapy sessions. Over the course of the next several months, and adjusting meds thankfully I was able to feel like a fog was lifted. I started asking to be taken off the meds although the doctor told me its best effective when kept on for a year to ensure stability. I reluctantly agreed, knowing the possible negative side effects of trying to wean myself from the meds. So I decided to trust her, until….2 blue lines…again!! Just over a year since Abrams birth. The doc assured me it was safe to continue meds while pregnant but I refused, I told her I just didn’t want to be on anything while pregnant that could possibly have a side effect on our unborn child. So she took me off, and all was well…


….until we realized that my husband was slated to leave on his 3rd deployment right as I was going to be 13 weeks pregnant and raising our 1 year old….well that’s the military life, if we were to have multiple children it was inevitable. Next we find out he would be scheduled to come home about a month after my due date. Talk about stressful; we lived 5 hours from our nearest family. Over the next few months he spoke to his commanding officer about of course wanting to be present for the birth if it was an option. So they made a deal of sorts. David, at the time, was an osprey airframes mechanic, and his CO ( Commanding Officer) agreed if he worked the entire deployment to become a CDI (collateral duty inspector- someone who inspects maintenance jobs to ensure they are done properly and signs off, which is a big deal on aircrafts ) and also run the Corrosion Control Shop. Both jobs were something that takes a while to learn and they needed more guys that knew the jobs inside and out. Upon learning these two things they would allow him to leave on an advanced party to return home prior to the birth, so he could re setup shop in the states and wait the arrival of the rest of the unit. He worked diligently and accomplished both task of course, and returned stateside on a Friday, I was 38weeks 2 days.

The entire time he was gone I had told him, this time I want it to be different, I don’t want to feel medicated, I don’t want to not be able to move, Abrams birth felt Sooo unnatural to me, it didn’t feel like how I thought it should have went, it was special of course, but lackluster. He basically said mmkkk whatever you want lol. I had been going to my prenatal appointments and toward the end they mentioned induction, I just told them no. I’m not doing that this time, UNLESS, it is a TRUE medical need.

Cannon Knox-

40weeks 2 days rolls around, exactly 2 weeks after he arrived stateside, I woke up around 2:45am and felt cramps. I eventually got out of bed and started timing them. I wasn’t convinced in the least THIS was labor. About 30 mins or so later I woke David up and said I “think” I maybe in labor?! I had never experienced “true” labor so I just couldn’t believe it. I called the hospital and told them my symptoms, they assured me oh just wait at home at least another hour. Ok, so I got off the phone and called my friend Cara, the plan was whenever I went into labor she would watch our son while we went to the hospital, until my parents could make the 5 hour drive down. She came right away, by that point contractions were probably 3 mins apart. We hop in the truck around 5 and make the 15 min drive to Camp Lejeune. The drive was terrible and looking back I know why, I was in “transition” meaning the time that it takes to go from 7cm-10cm. When we arrived at the hospital we hurried in, stopping along the way for contractions. Finally once in labor and delivery they needed some documents signed, but I had other plans, kneeling in the hallway to push out a baby! Nurses came from everywhere at probably 5:25am shouting “don’t push! Don’t push” I was in another world, one where I was pushing out a baby! They got me on a bed, checked, yep he’s coming, down the hall we flew into a labor and delivery suite, the doc was already in there he grabbed a pair of gloves and within a couple mins at 5:30am he handed me my baby. THAT IS HOW IT’S DONE!!! 2 hours and 45 minutes from first cramp to holding my baby. He was 7lbs 4 oz. and 19″ long. What a sense of accomplishment, empowerment, my baby was here and I didn’t really need anyone telling me how, or hooking me up to machines, I was able to have my baby, just like women had done for 1000s of years, before doctors decided we needed all this “help” to get them out. I feel like in the little bit of time between pregnancies the more research I had done the more it led me to believe a lot of times “help” leads to complications and I didn’t want that. To me this natural birth was a major accomplishment, although I totally acknowledge a lot of women, if not most, prefer my first experience or something totally different than my first or second which is TOTALLY ok, because it’s YOUR experience and how YOU feel about it that matters, no one else. I also acknowledge that for some high risk women, how they give birth isn’t always a choice, and I truly empathize, I can imagine having to relinquish control of my whole birth experience to ensure safety of my baby, is something that is very difficult to deal with.

Trying to avoid depression-

Another thing that I had researched throughout that pregnancy was how to avoid postpartum depression naturally. I found article after article on placenta encapsulation. Gross, eww, right?! People have been doing this for centuries, it’s not a “new thing” more ancient if anything, but not well known in our medicated culture. In this process someone takes your placenta, which is enriched with tons of your natural hormones, iron, and nutrients that are used to sustain your pregnancy, dehydrates it, then grinds it into powder, fills capsules, and then you take it like a super vitamin over the next few months to level out your hormones, it increases milk production, increases energy levels, and overall helps with recovery. When you are pregnant your hormones are obviously at an all-time high at the end, then after delivery you plummet back down to a baseline, which can cause “baby blues” or worse, postpartum depression. Some say it’s a placebo effect but hey I was willing to give it a shot since the potential positive effects would be great, and there are little to no negative side effects. It. Was. Life changing. Seriously, my husband thought I was looney for even considering it, but after several months he couldn’t believe how well I recovered and felt amazing, which was a good thing since he was working up to leave me with 2 kids under 2 years old for deployment number 4 a few months post-partum. I rarely talked about this to anyone, because I feared everyone’s judgment. I only shared with a few close friends, or pregnant women I thought that may benefit from it as well. Now I can look at it and say if it helps one person reading this that is worth the judgment of all the others.

Mattis Jett-

Fast forward to May 2015 we find out we are surprisingly expecting our third! I wasn’t sure how to feel about it, I was excited but it was such a shock, and I had just started a new job. Also, my husband had started a new path in his career as a recruiter which means he works…all. The. Time. Like 16-18 hour days. I felt as though this couldn’t be a “good time” but of course you make plans and God laughs right? We had no idea how bad we needed this third baby, but God did, and perfectly placed him in our lives. We decided I wouldn’t be able to return to work after the baby, the cost of childcare for 3 children is astronomical and just wouldn’t make sense financially, not to mention I couldn’t send a newborn to daycare. But guess what just as we are getting used to have a double income, then finding out I’m pregnant and won’t be returning to work, my husband worked super hard and eventually got a promotion….once again God took care of it. After we had our second child we decided if we had any more children, which we planned to have at least one more at some point, we would have them at home. The last labor and delivery was so easy, David said well we could have done that at home! Then we wouldn’t be trapped in a hospital for 3 days while someone else cared for our other son. So, I was on the search for a midwife, and met with Nancy Harman on a Saturday in June. I already loved how different the experience started out because I was able to take my whole family to the consultation, at her home office, on a farm, on a Saturday. Yep, that’s not the norm; she worked around us, rather than the other way around. I knew immediately after meeting her she was our midwife. She encouraged David to take the boys outside to see the cows, and her “mud hut” out back while we discussed previous pregnancy experiences. She determined I was definitely low risk enough for a successful home birth. In North Carolina homebirth is legal, however it has to be attended by a CNM (certified nurse midwife) and you also do parallel care with a supportive ob, for us it was UNC family medicine, where you do labs, ultrasounds, and any further testing. So we did our prenatal appointments with her, and saw UNC once per trimester, we found out at 19 weeks 2 days on September 1 that we were expecting our third boy! How perfect!! My pregnancy really flew by, easy and uneventful. We got down to the last appointments and all had gone so well, the weekend of my due date, our area was expecting our first snow storm! Take that lightly, it’s NC, we are in the south, “snow storm” is a strong term, and however Nancy lives about an hour and fifteen minutes away, and in snow and ice we started to anticipate the idea of her maybe not making it! Thankfully her assistant Edie, whom is a fellow midwife, lives about 30 mins from us, so we knew she would be first to the house. That Saturday (the day before my due date) I had experienced contractions about 5 minutes apart for several hours. Of course since the storm was hitting it brought on babies and Nancy was attending a birth, come to find out I think she had 5 in just a few days! She sent her assistant to the house to check and make sure it wasn’t the real deal and that she needed to come after she finished at the birth she was present for. The other midwife came, checked 1cm. It was sort of disappointing just because I’d been so dilated with my previous pregnancies by that point. We decided it was prodromal labor or “practice labor” and she went home. This happened at least 2 more times over the next week, but thankfully I knew better than to call every time. The next Sunday rolled around, 41 weeks, I had been in contact with Nancy discussing what we should do to encourage him, and we didn’t want me to go into the 42nd week just because the hospital REALLY wants you to come in for an induction at that point. I had set up ultrasounds for 41weeks2days and 41weeks5days to check on baby, and I wasn’t prepared to defend my choice not to induce to the hospital. She said we could do a membrane sweep after 41 weeks. In the non-traditional relationship of a midwife and client she told me she would meet up with me on Sunday after church to do that, how convenient! So we went to the appointment she did the sweep, informed me I was now 2cm, wow, just 2, and this was 8 days since last check. We discussed some other ways to encourage labor, she gave me a labor tincture that has black and blue cohosh, and some other herbs, told me to take one dropper full in a shot of juice per hour for 3-4 hours, and also if I wanted to use a breast pump 20 minutes on and 20 mins off 3x….then call it a night. I did everything she said, had a few irregular contractions but went to bed.

12:30am I woke up with a major cramp. I laid there for a while, bam another. I decide to get up and walk around, I came in the living room and pulled up my app to time them, first 2 were 15 mins apart, so I wonder if this is just another “practice”. Shortly after another, I check the app it was only 5 min interval. Over the next 30 minutes they remain steady 5 mins or so apart and about 1 minute long. I stood behind the couch and leaned over it, swaying and squatting. I went to wake up David and told him, then called Nancy about 1:40. To be the middle of the night she was so alert and happy to hear from me! She asked me about what was going on, I let her know then she said she would call Edie, the assisting midwife, and she’d be on her way. We decided to go ahead and put a few inches of cold water in the tub while we waited, I walked around stopping wherever a contraction would hit. I drank some water, read my birth affirmation cards that I had written out a few weeks before. I had written some positive scripture and words affirming that I CAN do this, and I HAD done it before. In the midst I had called our birth photographer also.

Eventually about 2:45 Edie arrived, like a ninja she came in through the garage with her bags and swiftly started setting up. I asked her if she wanted to check my dilation, just to see where I was, at that point contractions had been about 3 mins apart. She texted Nancy and asked if she wanted her to, Nancy told her she was still about 20 minutes out so if I wanted her to check she could. I told her nah we can wait for Nancy….until the next contraction, nope I want you to check now! She says ok! She checked 7cm!! Oh wow what a relief! All this work hasn’t been for nothing!! I jumped up from that bed reenergized and excited! I was so excited to report the news to David! I bounced back into the kitchen holding up 7 fingers, and told him to get the hot water in the tub and let’s have a baby! About 3am our photographer snuck through the garage door, and got to work. I informed her I was already 7cm. We all stood around and talked, they brewed coffee; David loaded the dishwasher just to be doing something. They took turns filling pots of water and heating them on the stove since the hot water heater ran out rather quick. Every few minutes I would either grab the kitchen sink, sway and squat or grab David’s neck, and we would sort of dance around the kitchen. Nancy arrived at 3:30am; things were slowing down some, but intensifying. I passed her walking to the bathroom, and said hey, she was busy setting up her equipment; she looked up and said hello, then back to the kitchen. At some point I did get sick and threw up a couple times, throwing up while mid-contraction wasn’t pleasant, but it was over quickly. They told me whenever I felt like it I could get in the tub. Sure, that sounded like a great idea! Before the birth I decided in order to be as comfortable as possible I would wear either a maternity bathing suit top or a tank top and a skirt. I’d heard of other moms laboring in a skirt, sounded like a great idea, so I had bought a knee-length yoga style knit skirt and had been wearing it and a tank top throughout the labor. I decided to just keep it all on to get in the tub, may sound a little silly, but even something as small as being comfortable in what your wearing can make a huge difference in labor. I stepped in the water, and knelt down on my knees and leaned over the side to rest, I could just let my belly sort of hang down the warm water felt Sooo good! Contractions were slower but when they came they were intense. Both midwives were standing by watching I think Nancy was knelt down beside the tub, occasionally she would whisper some type of affirmation, “you can do this, slow deep sounds, and you’re very powerful”. David was directly in front of me sitting on a stool, holding my hands. The entire time I was pregnant we had planned at some point he would get in the tub and catch our baby, but at that point I didn’t realize how much I wouldn’t want him or myself to move out of that squat position. So I told him I don’t want you to move! He says ok ok, whatever you need. I asked if one of the midwives would check dilation again, Nancy came over and had me flip over so she could, she said I was 9cm, thank goodness! I quickly flipped back over onto my knees, leaning over the tub, and grabbed David’s hands and we said a prayer out loud, I prayed for it to be over soon, and we would have our healthy baby boy. The next few contractions I felt the urge to push so I did with everything, with each push I could feel baby moving, holy moly this is really happening! Then I felt a sort of pop, and gush, oh my gosh my water just broke! It was so neat to actually experience that on my own, because in my last 2 deliveries, even with my natural birth, the doctor broke my water just to get it out of the way, I assume?! When my water broke it was in the height of a contraction so I couldn’t speak, but right after I told everyone. Nancy asked to feel what was going on, she did, but nearly right as she pulled her hand back up out of the water I pushed twice and his head came out! She felt again and told everyone the head is out and there was no cord around his neck (remember no one could really see what was going on because I was kneeling, with the skirt on, and it was very dim lighting). I rested for maybe 20-30 seconds and one more push for the rest of his body. I flipped over so quickly and reached down to pull him up to my chest! He was born at 4:14am. Wow, what a relief. He and I both let out a cry! Nancy and David helped me get my shirt off so he could be skin to skin and wrapped us both in a warm towel. Then all was calm, it was so surreal, I just delivered my own baby, myself! Nancy said wow that was fast! Just a minute after maybe in walks Cannon rubbing his eyes, they lit up when he saw what I was holding, what perfect timing. Since cannon had awakened I told David he should probably go wake Abram up. He went upstairs and got him, although he was sound asleep. Both of the boys leaned against the pool to touch their new brother. Only a few minutes went by and with a little effort the placenta was passed, the older boys acted as if it was just whatever, didn’t faze them a bit, in fact at one point Abram said “mama can you get out of that tub so we can go somewhere?” Yes, just minutes after birth, at like 4:30am! I sat in the tub for 20 mins or so and latched baby on to nurse for the first time. Eventually we let the older boys cut the umbilical cord, each got a snip, then I passed baby to his daddy. They all went to the couch to check him out while the midwives helped me out of the tub, and to the bed. My bed, ahh, how nice! Nancy did her assessments on me and decided a shot of Pitocin would be good to slow bleeding, which I was fine with, and I felt really good! (Without going into great detail I now know that being in different positions other than your back is extremely beneficial, especially a kneeling position, it works so well with your body and gravity, I wish this option was more mainstream especially in the hospital.) Meanwhile Edie drained the tub, cleaned up supplies, and got the house probably cleaner than before they arrived. David brought me the baby to nurse and went to cook breakfast, while the older boys went upstairs to watch a movie. He brought me breakfast in bed and we watched Nancy do her newborn assessment, apgar scores and measurements. He was 7lbs 15oz and 20 3/4″ long, with a head full of dark hair just like his brothers. Once they were done they finished packing up and went over some postpartum instructions, asked if we had any questions and they were out the door to enjoy our new family of five by 9am! Our older boys laid down around 1:30pm to nap, and David and I said we were going to too, but we just couldn’t. We sat around and talked about the whole event for nearly three hours, how amazing and how natural and mostly how easy everything was being in the comfort of our own home.


Labor is hard, although David claimed I made it look easy it has definitely been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but of course the absolute most rewarding thing also. Even though it’s probably not a good thing, I had SOO many expectations for this birth, I had talked about it, prayed about it, and dreamt about it for months, well really a few years. And to my surprise, it really, truly couldn’t have gone any more perfect. Nancy returned the next day and after she did assessments on us both, she asked me if I could change anything what would I change? Absolutely nothing, it was purely magical.

~ Jessica

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Raleigh Birth Photography | Hospital Birth | Grayson

Raleigh Birth Photography _ Melissa

Raleigh Birth Photography | Hospital Birth | Grayson

I met Melissa while I was pregnant with my second. She is a fellow photographer specializing in Newborn Photography. We had planned for her to take Lucien’s newborn photos and I was set to take birth photos of their son’s arrival.

It was one of my first births back from maternity leave and it was so exhilarating! Taking nearly 3 months off I was so excited to get back to births.  She had a wonderful and relatively fast labor – she made it easy on me! I had a really great time watching their oldest meet his new brother. It was so special. He was so proud!

It is quite often my clients want to have the the sibling meeting documented – and in this case – they lived so close to the hospital that dad ran home to grab him. Mom had a nice little outfit set aside and in walks her oldest in sweatpants and a Big Bro shirt. Priceless! I loved the realness of it all!


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If you are interested in Raleigh Birth Photography, please contact me here.

Limited spots available.

Birth Photography | Raleigh NC | 2015 Favorites



Birth Photography | Raleigh NC | 2015 Favorites


2015 was a busy year! I photographed 29 Births! Each birth stands out so uniquely in my mind and I will forever treasure the memories that I have made and captured for each of my clients. This was a year of many first and many tears. I wanted to share and write a little about each of the births I had the privilege of documenting so hang on tight and enjoy some of my favorite photos and memories.



  1. This was how I found Mom when I arrived at her home. She was laboring in the tub and the sunlight was shining down so brilliantly on her. It was one of the very first photos I took of her labor. Harsh lighting emphasized the beautiful contrast and birthing mood.

1 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Hilary-1 BW_stomped


  1. Birth is a right of passage, and anyone who has experienced it knows how truly hard you have to work; a true labor of love. So in moments when you see the contraction build, lending a soft hand to Mom’s shoulder gives her a sense of togetherness and strength and support. A simple touch can give a laboring mom encouragement and a sense of peace knowing she is not alone.


2 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Geneva-19 BW_stomped


  1. Dads are so proud – and when I get to capture that look of pure admiration in the moments shortly after their child has entered this world it brings me to tears. Take a second and just look at Dad’s face, he is so full of pride and love!

3 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Carolyn-162_stomped


  1. You know that nervous laugh… here is a perfect example! Mom was set for a repeat cesarean – with very little sleep, she was up early and about to undergo a ‘familiar’ procedure but it was so vastly different than her first and the nerves had set in. But she held her composure through smiles and laughs! I wasn’t allowed back into the operating room but Dad took some photos and video and I used them in her birth video.

4 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Amber-47_stomped


  1. I really enjoy watching a Mom navigate labor with her team. So much strength and support in this photo. Mom is surrounded by her husband, doula and midwife; each offering their own form of encouragement. At one point I whispered under my breath that she looked like a goddess and one of the midwives overheard me and softly agreed.

5 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Alicia-71_stomped


  1. Homebirths are one-of-a-kind experiences. I really enjoy taking photos of their home and small details that make their birth so personal. This labor was long and hard! Baby was not in the best position and Mom was off in another universe as she tirelessly tried to keep her body from pushing too early. Once given the green light she mustered up every ounce of energy and on the floor of her bedroom she gave birth to her baby. I love seeing this photo of Mom’s face and reminded how joyous this birth was.

6 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Stephanie-108 BW_stomped


  1. When I get the opportunity to take a shot of Dad at the time of birth it’s golden! Candid photos of a husband becoming a Dad in just mere seconds; a moment that is forever etched in his memory. It is no surprise that this photo is one of Mom’s favorites too. Mom is focused on her baby and unable to watch other reactions around her. I’m so passionate about Birth Photography because of THIS!

7 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Natalie-41_stomped


  1. This family holds a very special place in my heart. I was contacted about doing their birth and I was told their daughter may not survive past birth. We all held out hope and prayed for Madeline. I was with them throughout their whole labor and birth. Once she was born they asked the NICU team to do everything in their power to help her live. After about 10 minutes the Doctors knew with certainty that nothing could be done and suggested they spend the time they had left with her in their arms. This photo was taken just moments after they laid Madeline onto Mom. It speaks so many words – their love for each other and their children glowed intensely and it still shines as they navigate life without their precious Daughter here on earth.

8 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Rebecca-106_stomped


  1. This birth was in the middle of a rainstorm! First time Mom and bariatric pressure was a perfect combination for me to MISS her arrival by THREE minutes! Mom went from 5-9cm in nearly 20 minutes and there was no way I could get there any faster than I did. But this is one of my favorites from her birth. I love the bow hat and how she is happily snuggled up on Mom. Quiet moments are so special and just minutes later all her family was there to meet her!

9 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Paige-83_stomped

  1. Elizabeth was my birth photographer for my 2nd baby – so when she messaged me to tell me she was pregnant I couldn’t contain my excitement! Her husband called me the night of her birth saying I should probably head their way but not to rush. Who was he kidding – 5th child – I was in a hurry just in case! As it turns out I walked in the room and TWO contractions later her son was born in the middle of her bedroom in her birth pool. I had a hard time choosing my favorite from her birth – but this one spoke to me. She is surrounded by her 4 oldest children and her husband. So much love in this perfect family of 7.

10 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Elizabeth-100_stomped


  1. Sometimes an artistic shot really touches me… and this one makes me smile. Dad is putting on his daughter’s diaper and he is so careful and intentional. The love he has pours out in his first act as a father. The reflection in the white board to the right makes this one of my favorite artistic photos this year!

11 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Danielle-80_stomped


  1. There were so many amazing photos from this birth but for me – there is no question that this one is my favorite. Mom was pushing and Dad was right there, every moment of the way. He was her rock and the two of them danced perfectly in step to each contraction and this photo captures the tender kiss and strong love between these two. Mom is turning to him for strength and he is right there willing to give everything he has.

12 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Tamika-82 BW_stomped


  1. When Mom wants a crowning photo – I do my best to deliver. With hospital rules and guidelines it can be difficult but in this birth, the Midwife had no issue and allowed me to document this little one’s entrance. An intense moment frozen in time. A baby between two worlds… half born.

13 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Maggie-112_stomped


  1. A cesarean birth after hoping for a VBAC; no matter the reason this is a very humbling and disappointing moment. This photo speaks so much, the wonderment and longing in Mom’s eyes to hold her son. I know how this feels personally and it is hard to wait to hold your baby. Cesarean Mamas are strong!

14 Raleigh Birth Photography - Lauren D-87_stomped


  1. Birth center births are great option!. It is even more fun when your Doula brings lights to help decorate your room and make it more festive! I adore this image of Mom and Dad enjoying their little girl amongst the glittery backdrop!

15 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Sandi-70_stomped


  1. This image may not scream ‘best/favorite’ photo – but let me tell you a little about this birth. Mom had a plan; she desired an out of hospital birth. After many hours and a stall she was transferred to the hospital. She kept her head high and kept a positive outlook. Mom had a birth plan and although she was disappointed she held onto the hope that her birth would still follow the plan as closely as possible. As time went on more and more kept getting crossed off her list of possibility. It was heartbreaking to watch Mom’s desires slip from her fingers. There are things that come up throughout labor that require us to alter the plan. As you can see from this photo – delayed cord clamping and immediate skin-to-skin did not become a reality due to the presence of meconium. So much of birth can transform into an experience that Mom and Dad did not intend. It may mean that more processing is needed to accept how your birth went. Birth is something you remember for the rest of your life and how you process the event plays a huge role in healing and moving forward. I am thankful I was allowed to share this photo – it is a reminder that birth rarely goes as planned and it can be messy, not only during but the days/weeks/months/years following.

16 Raleigh Birth Photography - Lauren T-55_stomped


  1. The quiet peacefulness of birthing in a tub. The still water wrapping her in warmth and the support of her husband. No words needed, just his quiet calming presence bringing her comfort. One of my favorite birth tub photos I took last year.

17 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Caitlyn-7 BW_stomped


  1. Change is coming to North Carolina! This mama PUSHED to be a part of her daughter’s birth. She knew she would be required to have a cesarean (her 4th) and this was her last baby and she wanted to have a different experience! Armed with a ton of information she approached UNC to use a Clear Drape and with some discussion they agreed! This photo so beautifully depicts the moment her daughter entered the world. Although hidden, you can see the smiles on everyone’s face! UNC has since announced that they NOW offer a clear drape option for cesarean births!

18 Raleigh Birth Photography - Tabitha-36_stomped


  1. This year I took on my very first out-of-town birth. This was for a repeat client and they lived in Philadelphia! I knew it was going to be a stretch to make it – and the second I got the ‘it’s go time’ call I hopped in the car. I drove into the wee hours of the morning and then I got the call that she had had the baby. I missed it by nearly 2 hours. I knew it was a long shot but I did give it my all! I showed up that morning to document their oldest meeting her new sister and she was in love! Big sister giggles are the best – hiccups are the funniest!

19 Raleigh Fresh48 Photography - Allison-30_stomped


  1. I photographed my very first Adoption Birth Story. The birth Mom approached me and wanted to have photos of her and her daughter before she placed her up for adoption. She had her whole family there in attendance for the birth (some were in the waiting room). Her sister brought a polaroid camera which was so fitting. She was taking photos of her sister and niece and laid them on the ledge. I snapped a quick photo – representing what Mom will have to hold onto; photos. Memories fade, but having these photos will allow her to feel close to her daughter and remember the day she was born.

20 Raleigh Birth Photography - Leslie Jones-87_stomped


  1. Take a moment and really look at this photo. Mom was on day 3 of an induction and her baby was not budging. In fact, the baby had an ear presentation and would not descend due to positioning. This photo was taken just moments after Mom and Dad made an unbelievably difficult decision and agreed to a repeat cesarean. Dreams of her VBAC had slipped through her fingertips and there is an undeniably unique mood in this photo. My heart aches when I look at this photo but I can’t take my eyes off of it. Many times I wish I could trade places with Mom if only for a moment to help carry the heavy load and breathe new light into a moment that feels so dark.

21 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Frances-30_stomped


  1. Water births are truly spectacular. Baby is gently brought up to Mom’s chest and laid skin-to-skin for what seems like eternity. I love how Dad is hovered down over Mom’s shoulder so that their son can gaze up to see both adorning parents. It is clear, he is so loved.

22 Raleigh Birth Photography - Catherine D-63_stomped


  1. After years of health issues, countless surgeries and failed fertility treatments – here is Mom holding her newborn son for the very first time – a child she never thought was a possibility. This emotion is real, raw and it’s a moment that will forever be remembered and admired.

23 Raleigh Birth Photography _ Sammi-73_stomped


  1. I can’t tell you how amazing it was for me to watch these two wonderful women bring their daughter into the world. They were a flawless team. They joked a little and laughed. They held each other when things grew more intense. And with gentle coaching and soft affirmations they welcomed their daughter into loving arms. This photo portrays so much joy, a tender connection between these three has been formed and you can see it emanate from this image.

24 Raleigh Birth Photography - Kim-88 BW_stomped


  1. Perspective can play such a huge role in capturing a birth. The viewpoint of this photo makes this one of my top favorite photos for the year. I love how you can view everyone in attendance and you can feel the intensity of the contraction right along with Mom. This was my very first true VBAC and it was an amazingly powerful birth!

25 Raleigh Birth Photography - Alex-65e_stomped


  1. Flawless beautiful skin. This little girl came so fast that I had to call in a backup for the very first time this year! Thankfully I had someone able to go in for me and she covered about an hour of the labor and birth. She was born via emergency cesarean and was waiting patiently for Mom to come back from the operating room. This photo is a great representation of tranquil and calm; a vast difference from the flurry of events that lead to the cesarean.

26 Raleigh Birth Photography - Marcelia-14_stomped


  1. Birth no doubt can take hours, sometimes days. In most cases you don’t know when it will start or how long it will take. You go into the start of early labor excited and energized and many times the length sets in and the exhaustion soon follows. I LOVE this photo – her husband sat only for a minute and this was the result. Now, to his defense, it was at like 6 or 7am so he had been up all night. And he did make a great weight for the chair so it wouldn’t go flying when Mom leaned on it during her contractions.

27 Raleigh Birth Photography - Amanda M-14_stomped


  1. There is nothing more special then the after birth cuddles. Babies love to snuggle in on Mom sin-to-skin and then I caught dad gazing from a distance and it was so perfect. This was Daddy’s first little girl and it took mere seconds before she had him wrapped around her finger!

28 Raleigh Birth Photography - Jasmine-8_stomped


  1. The year ended with this beautiful and amazing birth. I met with Mom and Dad to discuss the birth of their daughter. She had been diagnosed with Anencephaly. The doctors did not expect her to live much past birth. Mom had said they may have just minutes with her and they wanted to be sure and capture it all. Mom, Dad, and a ton of friends family and strangers prayed hard! When it came time for the birth they chose not to have her heart monitored. Instead they chose to trust Jesus. Adalyn Grace was born alive and was immediately placed on Mom’s chest. It was an intense and beautiful moment to watch as Adalyn took a tiny little breath, Mom and Dad cried out so grateful to have time with her. She laid in Mom’s arms for nearly 2 hours. Dad later took his time dressing her in the many outfits they had brought with. This photo is of Mama and her Daughter; tiny fingers intertwined. Their family and birth will forever be in my heart. I wouldn’t have wanted to end my 2015 year any other way.

29 Raleigh Birth Photography - Adalyn Grace-27_stomped

Life Before and After Birth | Raleigh Birth Photography


A couple months ago I wanted to start a new documentary type of photography.

Before & After the Birth of your Baby | How Life Changes

I come to your home and photograph you just as you are; awaiting the arrival of your precious little one. They session is done around the 36-37 week mark. Much later than my typical maternity session. I want to capture your life deep into your pregnancy and your home as you prepare for baby.

Then about 3-4 weeks after your baby arrives I come back to your home and document the change. Whether that is a change in the books on your nightstand, the state in which your kitchen sink currently in, burp cloths and clothes tossed about, etc.

Here is my very first How Life Changes Session…

How Life Changes 1 Raleigh Maternity Photography Raleigh Family Photography How Life Changes 2 Raleigh Maternity Photography Raleigh Family Photography How Life Changes 3 Raleigh Maternity Photography Raleigh Family Photography How Life Changes 4 Raleigh Maternity Photography Raleigh Family Photography How Life Changes 5 Raleigh Maternity Photography Raleigh Family Photography How Life Changes 5 Raleigh Maternity Photography Raleigh Family Photography

Raleigh Birth Photography | Madeline’s Story


Raleigh Birth Photography | Celebrating Madeline’s Birth and Her Life


It’s not often an experience changes you – a true life altering and eye opening change. But that is exactly what happened for me April 2nd 2015.

Raleigh Birth Photography | Madeline | Bereavement

In early March, I was contacted by Jennifer, a fellow photographer, in search of someone able to document the upcoming birth of her client. She put me in contact with Becca and we talked a little about Madeline. She had quite a few complications show up on the 20 week scan, which kicked off a series of more ultrasounds and doctors visits. They transferred care to UNC; a larger hospital with a wider range of capabilities. Over the next few weeks Madeline was diagnosed with Arthrogryposis, Hydrocephalus, and Hydrops fetalis. The family knew the road ahead was going to be challenging, they wouldn’t know the extent of her issues until birth so there was no way to predict an outcome. So their plan was to make it as far along as possible to give her the best chance.


March 30th Becca’s water broke; she was only 31 weeks along. She was lifted to UNC while her husband drove the 2.5 hours to meet her there.  A plan was made; on April 1st they would start the induction process.


That morning started out like any other day, I showed up at the hospital at 7:30am just as mom and dad were waking. Mom brushed her teeth and hair; freshened up as much she could being that she had been in the same room for two nights. Mom even tidied up a little; putting away all the clutter that had accumulated over the last 36 hours. Dad’s sister was the first to arrive bringing him some breakfast and a nice large Monster drink.


Their family flew and drove in from all over the country. They had a friend watching their 2 year old daughter and she brought her to the hospital to be with everyone. UNC still had its flu policy in place; no child under 12 years old was allowed on the labor & delivery or postpartum floor. But under the circumstance, an exception was made. The nurses set up the adjacent room for the family to congregate and sit rather than the waiting room. They even placed a drink and food cart in there.


The chaplain came through and talked with the family about baptizing. This was important to the family and they knew they wanted her baptized right away.


Throughout the day, family gathered and talked, laughed, told stories, watched a movie and listened to Raelynn singing ‘Let if Go’ while spinning around the room. Mom’s pitocin was increased slowly and Madeline was doing well. At one point, when the room was quite, mom asked the nurse to turn the volume up on the monitor so she could hear her heart beat. A gentle reminder of that tiny heart… working very hard to meet her family.


Night fell and exhaustion was wearing on everyone. Around 9pm everyone had gone back to the hotel for a little rest. I went to the adjacent room to lay down. I figured I wouldn’t be asleep for long but as it turns out – April 2nd – dad came in to get me around 6:30am. Becca had woken up with pressure and it was time.


I walked into a room full of people. There were 3 or 4 doctors there for mom and 4-5 from NICU. Mom was ready to push but we were just waiting for the Chaplain to arrive. It was quiet, it was emotional, everyone respected the space and waited patiently for Madeline’s arrival. Once the Chaplain made it into the room, Becca began to push. Jay was right there with her; supportive husband and father. He held her hand and gently placed his other hand on her forehead. Pushing past her fear and pain, Madeline was born at 7:02am.


She was immediately taken to the warmer where the team immediately got to work on her. They wanted to remove the fluid around her lungs to allow for her lungs to expand. The Chaplain performed the baptism as they worked on Madeline. She was baptized within minutes of being born.


After about 10 minutes, the NICU doctor had done all she could and made the call that her remaining time was best spent on mom.


The room was clear of all the people within 5 minutes of handing Madeline over to mom. The room was dark. The room was still. The only sounds heard were Mom and Dad’s tears as they held on to their baby girl tightly. I took a few photos and then I gently slipped out of the room so they could just be the three of them.


Dad went to grab Raelynn; wearing her bright pink shirt that says ‘BIG SIS’ she was a ray of light walking into room 11. She enjoyed seeing her sister – sissy is what she called her. Her first question was why sissy’s eyes were closed; dad choked back tears and simply replied ‘she’s tired’.


Family was invited in shortly after. Mom held her tight as family came in to meet Madeline. They all took a turn laying a hand on mom’s shoulder while getting their first glimpse of the newest family member.


At 8:26am the NICU doctor came in to listen to her heart and she could no longer find a heartbeat. Madeline had passed in her mother’s arms, a safe and warm place. The family did a little Pink Champagne toast to celebrate her life.


Everyone took a turn holding Madeline; wrapped up in a beautiful quilt. She was peaceful. I was even given the opportunity to hold and love on her; I was honored and held her tightly and gave her my love.


April 2nd changed my life, Madeline’s face stays with me and I smile each time I think of her.


I have since been working on a way to help others who are going through something similar. I want to offer bereavement birth photography, capturing not only a child’s birth, but their life. These moments are so precious and something that not only mom and dad will be able to enjoy – but Raelynn – she is too young to fully remember her sister – but the moment they met will forever be with her through photo and video.


Below is the video clip – The family has been so gracious to allow me to share such a precious memory (make sure you watch it in HD)

Raleigh Birth Photography | Madeline’s Story | Bereavement Birth Photography

Raleigh Birth Photography | REX Hospital | First Time Parents


Raleigh Birth Photography | First-Time Parents | I met this Beautiful mama a few months before her son’s birth. Not only was she beautiful but she has the most amazing, giving heart. She is a member of a singing quartet with her siblings –The Taylors. Their voices are so beautiful and I am so honored to have met this group – I hope to get the opportunity to hear them in person very soon!

This birth has been one of my most memorable, when I arrived at the birth her room was full of family, love and support. Her husband sat by her side holding her hand. Never once leaving. It was a true family gathering and with a lot of support in the waiting room as well. Right before mom started pushing her dad, said a little prayer over her while a circle of surrounded her.

With her husband by her side, Isaiah emerged and there were voices of praise and hallelujah overtop his newborn cries. It brought tears to my eyes as I documented such a momentous occasion. A child was born into the arms of a new mom and dad.

Raleigh Birth Photography | REX Hospital | Isaiah

Raleigh Birth Photography | REX Hospital | First Time Parents | Isaiah Raleigh Birth Photography | REX Hospital | First Time Parents | Isaiah 2 Raleigh Birth Photography | REX Hospital | First Time Parents | Isaiah 3 Raleigh Birth Photography | REX Hospital | First Time Parents | Isaiah 4 Raleigh Birth Photography | REX Hospital | First Time Parents | Isaiah 5 Raleigh Birth Photography | REX Hospital | First Time Parents | Isaiah 6 Raleigh Birth Photography | REX Hospital | First Time Parents | Isaiah 7 Raleigh Birth Photography | REX Hospital | First Time Parents | Isaiah 8 Raleigh Birth Photography | REX Hospital | First Time Parents | Isaiah 9

If you are interested in Raleigh Birth Photography, please contact me here.

Limited spots available.

Wake Forest Birth Photography | Home Birth | No time for a Water Birth


Wake Forest NC Birth Photography | Anna is a good friend of mine and a local Doula here in the Triangle (Joyful Noise Doula Services). Our older two are only months apart in age and very much enjoy having play dates. Anna and I enjoyed them too; giving us a lot of time to enjoy some lazy pregnant time and birth talk since our ‘due dates’ were about 3 months apart.

Anna was planning a Home Birth with Nancy of Birthwise of Central NC. Anna and her daughter came over for a playdate one morning. We were talking about my upcoming trip to New Jersey for my son’s baptism. Anna had been aware of this trip and had decided to still hire me to photograph her birth and in the event I was out of town I would coordinate a backup to come photograph her birth. So during our playdate she had asked again when we were leaving; in 2 days.

After our playdate she had gone home and a few hours later found to have lost her mucus plug. This was how her birth with her first had gone so she was in HIGH hopes this was going to happen that night. I received a warning text later that evening and I was ecstatic! Around 10 that evening her husband sent a text saying ‘The boss says its time’ so I jumped in my car – noticed the full moon in the sky – and drove to her home in Wake Forest NC.

Anna had wanted a water birth – in fact she was in the water when I arrived. She got out for a position change and once her water broke tried to make it back to the tub but didn’t quite make it and had her baby standing just inches from the tub. It happened fast – but it was amazing!

They had a baby GIRL – my first girl of 2014.

Wake Forest Birth Photography | Home Birth

Wake Forest Birth Photography | Home Birth Wake Forest Birth Photography | Home Birth Wake Forest Birth Photography | Home Birth Wake Forest Birth Photography | Home Birth Wake Forest Birth Photography | Home Birth Wake Forest Birth Photography | Home Birth Wake Forest Birth Photography | Home Birth Wake Forest Birth Photography | Home Birth Wake Forest Birth Photography | Home Birth

If you are interested in Wake Forest Birth Photography, please contact me here.

Limited spots available.