We had the pleasure of chatting a bit with Julie Horekens! A talented Mama, tackling a not so common type of photography here in the UAE: Birth Photography.
Can you imagine having this experience beautifully immortalized? A chance to go back and witness those, raw, emotionally charged moments with your babies long after they arrived?
We couldn’t help but stick around for more! Thank you, Julie, for sharing your story and your experience!
Tell us your story! How did you find your passion for birth photography?
I was enthralled by all the stages of pregnancy and was so excited for the birth of my first daughter, Scarlet.
I had seen a few shots that my sister’s husband had managed to take of her birth and found these to be breath-taking, so I started thinking of documenting my own daughter’s birth and relying on my amazing husband to take a few shots. I was so happy he had managed to get a couple of pictures during this momentous occasion, but my heart also sank to see that I had only just a couple of blurry images to document this incredible event of our lives.
When I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter, Romy, I immediately decided to hire a photographer to capture the birth “properly” this time. But the delivery ended up being very quick so unfortunately, the photographer was not able to make it on time.
Birth is a whirlwind whether it is quick, long, painful, smooth, a vaginal or belly birth; most of us only have little recollection of specific moments of the event. Birth Photography allows mums and dads to remember the small and big moments of this life-changing event: the intensity on mums face as she labors, the pride and love your husband shows as you amaze him with your strength, the love in that room when the baby is finally here! The first snuggles and kisses between you and your baby. Capturing those moments for families merely is priceless!
The day you give birth to your child is one you should never forget – Just like your wedding day. Reliving that miraculous experience is so powerful and having someone there to capture it can ensure that you and your partner only need to focus on loving you and that little baby! I wanted to capture those moments for mums!
Have you faced any challenges?
The main challenge I face here in Dubai is the fact that Birth Photography is mostly new and unheard of which means Doctors and Hospitals don’t all accommodate and appreciate the presence of a photographer. However, I strongly believe that Birth is “your” moment and if it is important for you to capture it then your birth team should respect your wishes.
Some mums are also a bit wary of having someone there during an intimate moment. Most mums hardly notice my presence though as I try to be as discreet as possible.
Do you only capture the actual Labor or delivery?
I also offer packages for the whole family:
• Fresh 48 Sessions: Newborn in-hospital shoot within 48hrs of delivery during which I capture the details of a baby’s first few hours.
• Mama & Me Sessions: “In-home,” lifestyle sessions which aim to capture moments between your kids (any age) and YOU!
• Family Film Sessions: I come to your home and spend 90 minutes with you and your family. I ask you to “do your thing” – play games, cook/eat, give a bath, snuggle, read a book. Anything you love to do daily. I shoot everyday moments and make a sweet video of your family that you will cherish forever.
• A day in the life off OFD: I spend a whole day with you and your family and make a beautiful film out of it.
• Babies First Year Film: I come to take 30 min of film every 3 months of your baby’s life and make a film for his/her 1st birthday. This is a great way to document your baby’s first year.
What’s your style of photography?
My style of photos is very natural and detail focused. I try to catch moments that could be seen as “everyday happenings” but that do make you smile when seen. I want to give you a slice of that moment in your life to keep forever!
Did you mention having a drug-free birth? Do you mind sharing your story? What advice do you give to mom considering this option?
I had two drug-free births and would be happy to share both stories. However, I will preface it by saying that each delivery is personal and meaningful! We are all adults and know what works best for us so to each their own!
I gave birth to my girls in Miami which are known to have a high c-section rate. My Obgyn was on board for letting me try a natural birth as long as I did my research and educated myself about the whole process. So, I attended workshops about pregnancy, birth and postpartum, Hypnobirthing classes and hired a Doula.
When my first arrived at 34 weeks, I had to negotiate with my Doctor to try to deliver her naturally. He was quite resistant at first as the baby was considered a preemie. But, I managed to convince him to give me a few hours as my body seemed to be taking care of it naturally (water broke at 7 am, 9 am contractions started, etc.). Everything progressed relatively quickly. Knowing I am quite scared of the needle they use for epidurals, I did not even consider that option.
By 3 PM I was crowning! A few pushes and voila…it’s a girl!
After a 3 second snuggle, they took Scarlet away from me to get checked in the NICU as she was a 34 weeker. The birth was beautiful but not having her for the skin-to-skin was very hard on me. I felt guilty that I was not there to hold her. But in the end, we were lucky that she only stayed in the NICU for 26 hours only then was in my arms for months!
For my second baby, the birth was almost full term and was just as beautiful! Water broke at 10:45 PM and Romy was born at 2:37 AM without drugs as I was still scared of that epidural needle!
My biggest piece of advice is to listen to your body but do manage your expectations. Yes – I did it drug-free and it was beautiful, BUT I did not get to hold Scarlet. Things don’t always happen as planned, and it’s OK! As long as you and your baby are safe and healthy, that is all that matters!
If I have any “technical” advice to give it would be to breathe your baby out! Go to a hypnobirthing class if you can and focus on what they call the “Breath.” Breathe through contractions, do not hold your breath. If you give oxygen to your uterus and it’ll feel better!
What fascinates you the most about Motherhood?
Honestly – I am fascinated by how much we love our little ones, how many times a day they amaze us and make us oh-so-proud even when they are little terrors that keep us up at night!
How do you manage work and family time?
This is one thing I’m not very good at and must improve on. I must learn to be more present when my girls are with me instead of responding to messages and emails.
Best family hangout in Dubai?
Our home 🙂 and the desert, My husband travels a fair amount so when we have weekends together we do like to hang out here, have friends over for a kid-friendly early dinner or go out to the desert with friends. The kids love that!