The Contribution of Birth Partners to you Birth Space & Experience

I was born in a nunnery.  My father was not allowed in the room and my poor mom had to labour for hours without a birth companion.  A positive birth experience for my mother? I would think not, but I’m not sure – it depends on whether my father would have made a good supporting birth companion if he was allowed in!

What is a birth companion or birth partner?  In short it is someone that gives you physical, emotional and practical support when delivering your baby (via c-section or labour).  The right support during birth (over and above good clinical care) goes a long way toward a happier, positive birth experience.  In fact, many healthcare providers support the presence of birth companions as hospital midwives working on a busy labour ward are not always in the position to give continuous, un-interrupted one-on-one support.

There are different kinds of birth companions and each bring their own unique benefits to the birth environment.  Who you have in your birth space should be your choice, but should also be made with care as you need to feel safe, secure and respected at all times:

 

–       Make sure your birth companion/s understand and respect your birth preferences

–       Make sure your birth companion/s are qualified for his or her role

–       Make sure your birth companion/s bring positive energy to your birth space

–       Understand what your hospital or healthcare provider’s merit requirements are for the birth companion of your choice

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Enjoy a Maternal Cup of Comfort with Love Alda

Maternal-Cup-of-Comfort-TimelineAs a mother of three myself and a birth photographer and mentor, I would like nothing more than to provide you with support and empathy during your maternal journey.  It is with this in mind that I provide birth mentoring over and above birth photography.  It is also the main motivation behind the Maternal Cup of Comfort Closed Facebook Group which you get access to when you become a Love Alda client.  The group is a closed group of parents who, like you and I, know how gloriously wonderful and yet overwhelming pregnancy, birth & parenting are.  Here we share experience, knowledge and stories.

I would like to gain an even better understanding of your needs.  Please help me develop your ideal maternal cup of comfort by completing the survey below. You do not have to be a current Love Alda client to participate.  Participation in anonymous.  Please note that I am working on the assumption that the safety of your baby is the most important aspect in all of this and the questions posed are over and above this fact. To receive more updates from Love Alda as well as your own Birth Preference e-Book Gift subscribe at www.lovealda.com/celebratebirth Thank you!

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It’s Your Birth. Plan for it – and then be Flexible

I didn’t have a birth plan with the birth of my first child.  I just assumed things would happen more or less like I wanted them to.  There were two problems with this approach: 1) birth is unpredictable 2) I only realized what I could have had and wanted, after the fact.

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Birth is one of the most important events in a parent’s life and yet very few of us prepare for the experience itself. Why is it that so many mothers put all their time into obtaining information for once baby is here, but very little into learning about and preparing for the actual birth? I blame ignorance and a blind trust in systems & processes many parents know very little about. The importance of the birth experience itself, is something many first time parents only realise after the fact. That is probably why birth plans are more common when it comes to second or third time parents.

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I’m not particularly fond of the term ‘birth plan’ as how you become a parent is not nearly as important as becoming a parent in itself and one needs to flexible, but I am a firm believer in understanding the options and outlining your birth preferences. I have seen one too many times how an unplanned birth procedure or experience can leave emotional scars for years to come if the parents are ill informed. Taking ownership of your birth experience can be hugely rewarding and empowering – whether natural or C-Section. That does not mean that you do not seek professional advice, guidance & skill in making and implementing your choices.  It also does not mean you can plan and control everything about your birth – it would be ignorant to think or suggest that.  It simply means you participate in your own birth and decisions by understanding what the options are and knowing your own preferences. It is deciding what is important to you and your partner and what are the small things you’re not going to sweat. [Read more…]

Nikon SA Backs Birth Photographer Love Alda

 

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September 2015

Nikon, one of the largest and most respected photography brands in the world, is known for its investment in and support of professional, passionate and dedicated artists and storytellers.  The brand is committed to empower and educate and is well represented by world-class photographers, who inspire a new generation of artists across various genres. In view of the above, Nikon South Africa’s recent decision to support Birth Photographer & Mentor Alda Smith, from Love Alda, is not only a huge honor, but it also bodes well for the unique and developing art that is birth photography.

“Alda’s devotion and passion for birth photography is truly inspiring. We at Nikon in South Africa are proud to be associated with her and contribute to the development of such a unique segment in the photographic industry,” says Chantal Hauptfleisch, Head of Marketing at Nikon in South Africa.

“Alda’s birth photography is up there with the best international work and she portrays it with her signature intimate style. One can clearly see Alda has an affinity with people through her beautiful portraiture and she has a masterful understanding of natural light,” says Dr. Mark van der Wal, an avid Nikon supporter and past time birth photographer. “Her commitment as chair of the South African Birth Photographers Association, to promote and protect this relatively new genre of photography, is inspiring as she is a firm believer in the inherent value of her and her colleagues’ work,” he continues.

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“As a mother of three I have such a passion for capturing these once in a lifetime moments for parents and I think that to be able to show a child the story of how he / she came into this life is an incredible gift to a parent, but also to that child one day,” says Alda Smith. “I truly believe that those first memories & stories of love and connection are the most treasured heirloom we can give our children, but that a birth photographer should understand how to hold the birth space for a mother (and her birth partner). Working in association with Nikon will only strengthen efforts to educate and have a positive impact on the market,” she says. “It’s a wonderful development for birth photography – locally and globally.”

When she is not busy capturing birth journeys for her clients, Alda can be found mentoring not only clients but also birth photographers and professionals.   For more on Alda’s work visit www.lovealda.com  For Nikon-related question go to www.nikon.co.za

 

A personal thank you from Alda:  

We are all carried on the wings of love, support and friendship.  I would therefore like to thank the following ‘wings’ for your continues support and love:

The Artist of Artist

My husband, Johann

My mom, Bea, sister Lize and brother Chris

My friend and birth (ninja) buddy, Marysol Blomerus

Dr. Mark van der Wal (a birth photographer cheer leader if ever there was one!)

All the beautiful mamas who invited me into their sacred birth spaces and continue to do so

Lyndsay and the International Birth Photographers Community

All the amazing birth (and other) professionals, midwives, doctors and nurses out there who saw the beauty and importance of birth stories when I first approached them and continue to support and protect the the professional integration of medicine, birth and the arts  (Lana, Mirinda, Ina, Jeanne, Sandy, Jacky, Harriet, Marie, Elmarie etc. – you all know who you are!)

Forever Ours | Bejamin’s Birth | Mediclinic Durbanville

I will forever remember Benjamin’s birth as the one where they lifted a pixie with the most amazing crown of hair out of his mama!  And the one where his grandmother sobbed with bursting joy at his arrival.  Benjamin’s birth was truly celebrated by his mom, dad and many, many more!

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Our Love Song | Mari’s Birth Story | Mediclinic Louis Leipoldt, Cape Town

Mari, with her ivory skin and dainty features reminds me of a porcelain doll. She is a strong little baby though – I noticed that from the moment her grandfather (the assisting OBG) helped her into this world and she so wholeheartedly told the everyone around her that she was there. This is her birth story. It’s real. It’s honest. It’s filled with love. And it’s beautiful.

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The Little Blue Beetle | It’s the Journey that Matters, by Love Alda

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In our early years my mother drove a light blue VW beetle.  It was a happy little car – overloaded with vitamin D from always being parked outside in the sun.  It had fake, tan leather seats which burned our thighs and smelled funny whenever Lielie, Moemfie and I would bundle into the back (which had no seatbelts and no kiddies car seats).

We had a garage at our home in Pretoria, as well as in Acia Park, but my father’s adult, eventually slightly better cars lived there.  I felt sorry for them, but respected them.  They were clean, neat and serious. They didn’t get much sunlight and smelled important.

The blue beetle had a hole in its exhaust, which made its cheerful tuk-a-tuk-a-tuk song even louder – much to the embarrassment of my mom whose arrival would be announced from 2 km away.  I loved it.  Hearing it in the distance meant I could let go of the worry that would creep into my heart whenever the blue beetle would disappear around the corner with only my mom in it – off on an errand or to write and exam for the psychology degree she was studying part-time for.  And when its big smile bumper would finally turn into the driveway, it was greeted with the same enthusiasm radiated by baby chicks welcoming their mother bird back from her food gathering trip.  We fought over who would bump a ride up the driveway on the side of the little blue car and scrambled to discover what surprises it had brought back with it.

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Not all surprises are pleasant. On one such occasion my mother got out of the car with what looked like a put-out velt fire on her head.  Instead of her beautiful jet black hair, a cheap perm and colour had left her with smoldering red stumps.  Moemfie started to cry that mom looked like a Thundercat and I started to think of ways to cover the debris around my poor mother’s face.  It was awful and she knew it.  To this day I remember her mourning her ruined crown in my father’s arms –  the only thing visible of her being the singed red hair against his dark, puffy jacket.

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Memoirs of a Middle Child: A Celebration of Childhood, Motherhood and Everything in the Middle

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I was overcome before I had even open the gift my mother handed me that Friday morning in June. It was a book. I could see the cover through the white plastic bag (my mother does not share my fondness of making the wrapping a gift on its own). It was Dr Seuss’s “Oh the places you will go”.

“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”

With one simple gift and not a single word spoken she had hit the ball out of the park. As I stood there with my its-feeling-sorry-for-myself-day hair – tea cup in my hand – I felt it. A connection with my mother so perfect and so unexpected that I froze – scared that any sudden movements or words would startle it away.

You see I am a middle child of the 70’s. Allowing myself to feel understood is like cheating – on myself. And yet on that particular morning my mom got it righter than right and cheating felt good!

“You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Whereveryou go, you will top all the rest…. Except when you don’t. Because, sometime, you won’t.”

I had hit the ‘except when you don’t’ with my youngest of three not even a year old and the pressures of being a working mother getting the better of me.

“On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far And face up to your problems whatever they are.”

I didn’t open or read book until a couple of days after. Knowing what the book was about was enough. Shortly after I started writing Memoirs of a Middle Child. It is a celebration of childhood, motherhood and everything in the middle.

“And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ per cent guaranteed).”

 

Memoirs of a Middle Child is the personal accounts of Alda Smith, middle child, mother of three and birth photographer.  To subscribe to Memoirs of a Middle Child you need to subscribe to the Love Alda Newsletter.

OBG Rooms | Love Alda Digital Birth Story Frames

Love Alda Digital Birth Story Frames have finally started to make their way into selected OBG’s rooms across the Western Cape.  Now parents-to-be can enjoy videographic birth story productions by Love Alda with sound, whilst waiting for their next appointment.  All stories included are shared with the parents’ permission and I think those parents for allowing me to share some of their joyous moments.

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Also included are some interesting facts on birth photography in general.  So be sure to let me know if you spot one of these and enjoy following it whilst waiting for your next appointment. I might just give you your own complimentary slide production when you do so upon booking your own birth package!

Natural Water Birth | At Home: Meeting Beth

I was not yet on standby for Michele and Raymond Kroger and on my way to a kids birthday party with my own little munchkins, when the call came through from Lana, the doula – Michi was in labour.  Thinking I could steal a couple of moments with the camera at the birthday party, I had my camera bag in the back of the car (but not my ‘birth photography bag’ – which I will do a separate blog on).  This is the story of Meeting Beth on that rainy Saturday afternoon as told by Raymond (original source Your Pregnancy Feb/March 2014, photography Love Alda Maternal & Family Photography).

 All images and content shared with parents’ permission and family friendly.

 View birth slide show

www.lovealda.com

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