Mental health has become a growing concern for families in 2020/21, and pregnant women, in particular, have struggled. These women seemingly are having invisible pregnancies and births from the lack of support, connection, and celebration normally surrounding pregnancy.
Local photographer Kim Forrester connected with five moms-to-be to collect their unique stories–some heartbreaking and some more positive. She decided to give them a really special experience with a styled photoshoot, to celebrate their pregnancies and to help them feel empowered and beautiful. She wanted to shine a light on their unique experiences, and let the women know that we see them and we celebrate them. She captured each woman separately, as well as several socially distanced group photos to illustrate their experience being pregnant during Covid-19.
Here, Kim shares her thoughts on the experience, and why she chose to do this pregnancy photoshoot during the pandemic.
Hi, I’m Kim! I’m a mom to a sweet little boy, former hospital photographer of over 1000 babies, and an international award-winning mobile/in-home maternity and newborn photographer.
Being a mom myself who recently navigated the ups and downs of postpartum life, I’m passionate about creating a relaxing experience for new parents. This is why I offer a full-service mobile newborn studio–I take care of all aspects including wardrobe, hair and makeup, props and accessories for baby, backdrops, and even printing the finished images to archival standards because what new parent has time for that?
Since I spend hours on end in my clients’ homes working with their babies, the new moms really open up to me about their pregnancy experiences. Over the past year and a half, those experiences have had the added layer of the pandemic. Women have been going to ultrasound and doctors’ appointments alone, receiving news about their baby (good and bad) without even their partner beside them, and many have been struggling with feelings of isolation and detachment. At times when they’ve needed more support and connection than ever, their access to prenatal and postnatal classes, support groups, counseling, and even friends and family has been limited. Many of these women acknowledge the struggle that it has been for them, yet they feel guilty even saying it out loud as they simultaneously feel fortunate to be able to experience pregnancy, as many do not.
As a mom who personally struggled with mental health during the post-partum stage, I deeply empathize with new moms and can’t imagine going through it with the extra challenges the pandemic has thrown their way.
Related: 8 Tips For Coparenting Effectively
As a photographer and a storyteller, I felt a calling to help share these women’s experiences. So I teamed up with Faye Smith Agency in Vancouver for hair & makeup, and we put together a really special photoshoot in a field in Delta for five pregnant women. We captured them individually to represent their unique experiences, some heartbreaking while others more uplifting, and we captured some socially distanced group photos to illustrate the collective experience of pregnancy during the pandemic. They might feel alone, but they’re not.
The women were very open about sharing their pandemic pregnancy experiences:
“I am mourning the fact that this should be the happiest time of my life, yet I am left feeling detached, isolated, and alone. The guilt I feel for not feeling fulfilled by this gift of motherhood is overwhelming”.
“Many of these exciting moments we won’t get to have again. Many of my family or friends have never seen me pregnant. It’s a weird feeling that the next time they will see me, I may well have a child.”
“Trying to manage this pregnancy with a toddler has been the most difficult. Despite having friends and family who wanted to support us, there was little anyone could do.”
“Navigating my second pregnancy in a social cocoon was for me the therapy I never knew I needed. The break from social expectations gave me space to focus on the relationships closest to me, and to prioritize my life and family goals.”
“One of my twins had Cystic Hygroma, our baby girl was very sick and had zero percent chance of surviving. Heartbroken and overwhelmed we had to make a very tough decision and say goodbye to our little girl at 13 weeks.”
As the world opens back up and you begin seeing friends who you haven’t seen in a long time, keep in mind that if any of them had a baby, make sure to ask them about their experience. The thing with pregnancy is once it’s over, the excitement is all around the baby, and women and their pregnancy experiences are forgotten. But these women will not forget how it felt, and we shouldn’t either. Ask them how it was, ask them how they’re doing, ask them how you can help. Bringing life into this world shouldn’t fall on women alone but on the community.
Kim Forrester Photography provides newborn, baby, maternity, and family portraits in the comfort of families’ homes across Greater Vancouver. Find out more online at www.kimforresterphotography.com and on Instagram @kimforresterphotography.