Photo shoots are all the rage these days. Whether it’s weddings, engagements or pregnancy announcements, you can count on there being professional photographers close by to capture the occasions. In fact, photographers have even started popping up in delivery rooms. When this woman went into labor, however, she pulled out her own camera, and doctors couldn’t believe what she caught on film.
Lauren Chenault is a photographer based in New York, where she lives with her husband, Byron. Chenault works for Fire Island News, and as well as having a passion for photography, she is a stay-at-home mom to little daughter Kailah.
Interestingly, though, Chenault wished she had made more of the precious moment that Kailah came into the world. But she didn’t appreciate just how much preparation was needed. So when her second child was on the way, she had the opportunity to put that right. And with everything she had learned from the birth of her daughter, she knew exactly what to do this time.
After all, the first time that Chenault gave birth, there hadn’t been nearly enough people involved. Yes, for all the doctors and nurses in the delivery room, she realized that she needed more hands on deck, so to speak. So this time around, Chenault called on her family and friends.
With weeks to go before her second child entered the world, then, Chenault made a few phone calls. “I was like, ‘You’ll hold my leg, and you’re holding the other one,’” she explained in an interview with Today in February 2017. And so, with her husband and four friends roped in, she was ready.
But what was the grand plan that Chenault had in mind? Why was the usual presence of medical staff not enough for her second child’s birth? Why did she need a whole entourage present during such a personal experience? And just what exactly was the photographer hatching?
Well, all the questions were answered on January 31, 2017, when Chenault went into labor. After a 41-and-a-half-week gestation and some meticulous preparation, the 24-year-old was ready to put her plan into effect. Husband? Ready. Four friends? Ready. But then there was a surprise twist.
The only photographer in the room was Chenault herself. And so, not wanting to miss a moment of her second child’s birth, she whipped out her camera and started snapping. As her newborn son made his grand entrance, then, Mom was ready to document the whole thing.
“My four closest friends and hubby were all in the room for the birth,” Chenault explained to Babble in February 2017. “Two of my friends, Wendy and Megan, held my legs so that I was able to take the pictures. I had the camera resting on my chest and just kept clicking away.”
It’s a remarkable feat. Imagine being in the throes of labor – not to mention the pain that goes with it – and having the presence of mind to capture the whole experience. But as Chenault herself explained, the resulting images came more out of luck than judgment.
“I wasn’t even looking at the camera,” Chenault admitted in the Today interview. “It was just sitting there and I kept clicking.” It’s certainly a unique perspective of birth photography. In fact, it was something she had wanted to capture with her first child but was wholly underprepared.
“I didn’t know I was going to have to hold my legs so there was no way to do it,” Chenault recalled to Today of her first attempt. Having a better idea of what to expect the second time around, however, she was ready. And come delivery day, help was at hand.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of my husband and my friends, Wendy, Lauren, Megan and Becca, who were there with me,” Chenault later recounted to the Daily Mail. “They helped to hold my legs back, so that I would be able to hold my camera.”
But for all of the arrangements that went into Chenault’s support squad, what of the star of the show? Babies don’t always arrive on demand, so could the photographer really be ready? Well, as it happened, some meticulous planning occurred around son Kai’s delivery, too.
You see, her son was delivered in a scheduled induction, so Chenault knew exactly when help was needed. Not only that, but she also had the opportunity to perfect the lighting by taking some test shots beforehand. Then it was a matter of waiting for her son to pop into the world.
Between the breathing, puffing, pushing and screaming, then, help was on hand so that Chenault was ready for the big moment. And it was thanks to her friend’s call to action that the photographer took multitasking to a whole new level.
“I had one of my friends who told me to get my camera ready because he was coming, so I was able to get it ready,” said Chenault, describing the moment to the Daily Mail. Her friends admitted that they hadn’t known what to expect before they entered the delivery room.
“They had only seen it in movies,” Chenault explained of her friends’ experiences of giving birth. “It’s nothing like that. I feel like a lot of people perceive it as women screaming and bleeding all over the place.” In turn, Chenault hopes to give all women a more personal glimpse of what labor is really like.
There are always critics, however, with some suggesting that Chenault should have been focused on the moment. But the photographer begs to differ. As she explained to the Daily Mail, “While I was taking pictures I was also watching everything that was going on around me and just trying to hold the camera as steady as I could.”
“I wanted to photograph my own birth to show how powerful women are,” Chenault told PopSugar in February 2017. “I’m able to grow a human inside me and push it out, so I wanted to document it. It was amazing capturing them.”