From the operating room: photos from a planned cesarean section birth

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All photos by Crimson and Clover Photography.

I recently had the privilege to spend a few hours in the hospital with a friend of mine and shoot the birth of her third child, Gabrielle. While I've shot births before, this one was a new experience — it was my first time in an operating room, and my first time shooting a cesarean section.

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My son's birth was vaginal, and I had little frame of reference for cesarean sections besides reading stories on Offbeat Mama and the random one in a television show. I knew that it would be fast, but I wasn't prepared for how incredibly fast it really was. I also knew it would be different — there wouldn't be the hours upon hours of labor that result in the climax of the birth of the child, but I didn't know if that would alter the mood of the morning.

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It actually didn't — Gabrielle's parents were just as nerve-wracked as every other parent I've worked with, and her birth was magical. I saw proof of what we're always on about on this site: all birth experiences are a little bit magical.

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You can see more photos from Gabrielle's birth on my blog.

  1. It is so nice to see a C-section birth treated with respect and wonder and not as some kind of failure or cop-out. Thanks!

    34 agree
  2. Yay! I was a planned c-section and my mom said it was one of the best decisions they made. My brothers (twins) had previously been c-section, so she already had the scar and I was also a really, really big baby (10+ lbs) despite the fact I was born 2 weeks before my due date. They had it scheduled for Monday afternoon and it was pretty quick and relatively painless.

  3. This is really nice. I agree that it is great to show the wonder of any kind of birth. A new person is entering the world and that is to be celebrated!

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  4. Ahh! I wish photos weren't blocked at work. I can't wait to get home and look! I'm also glad for positive sotries. I had one and it's a big reason for my decision to never get pregnant again. The recovery and after effects were too unpleasant for me.

  5. "all birth experiences are a little bit magical."

    I love this line. I was put under general anesthesia for my emergency c-section and struggle with emotions from it. I love seeing and reading about c-sections as good experiences.

    p.s. gorgeous photos.

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  6. They ARE all a little bit magical! I spend about 40% of my working life inside an obstetric operating theatre and find myself shedding a few happy tears on a regular basis. Every birth is amazing, regardless of the method.

    Stunning photos, thank you so much for sharing!

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    • I'm an OB anesthesiologist so I see births like this all the time but I never fail to be amazed when they pull a tiny, little human out of another human.

      And the black and white shot is great. That's exactly what I see all the time at work.

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  7. My mom (who's 8 weeks ahead of me in pregnancy) is having a csection on the 24th of this month. Her doctor said she could try to birth naturally, but my mom said, "I have nothing to prove! Cut me up, doctor!"

    It's a complete 180 from me (plans for birth center) but it makes me happy to see my mom and this mom doing things that are right for them, their babies, and their bodies.

  8. Thank you so much for making this post. I had twins via cesarean and — when I think about it — still struggle a bit with my memories of the experience. I was SO freaked out as it all happened that I have few clear memories of one of the biggest events of my life. Seeing these pictures helps me to remember that among all of the scary surgical stuff going on, there were truly moving moments, too. And that's how I would prefer to remember my children's entry into the world. So thank you.

  9. Thank you for this post! Sometimes a c-section is not a choice and has to be done for medical reasons because it is much safer for the baby. It is wonderful to see a c-section treated with respect and happiness.

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  10. What a great friend you are and what great pictures. I know having a c-section is a different filming experience but the miracle of birth is still the same. Glad things turned out well.

    Elizabeth 🙂

  11. Yay! as someone for whom a c section is medically necessary, thank you! My sons birth, and my upcoming baby's birth is valid and beautiful too. Thanks for the reminder.

    Last time the c section (only 14 months ago) was a surprise necessity, this time I know well ahead that it will be scheduled. And even though I had a c section, I am nervous. There was so much sort of chaos in my head that makes me nervous about the next one (in 3 months) and looking at these photos made me all misty eyed and reminded me of the very special parts, seeing my baby, hearing him cry for the first time and holding him as we left the OR. Thank you for validating my experience.

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