Photographer Jessica Bender specializes in maternity, newborn, young children, and family photos. While she has documented vaginal births and delivered her own two children that way, photographing her friend's C-section was a first.
When Bender's friend Carly was pregnant, the mom-to-be asked her to be the back-up support person in case her husband Nathan couldn't be present for the C-section delivery, Bender told The Huffington Post in an email. The photographer told her friend she'd be ready with her camera should that situation arise. On the day of the procedure, Nathan needed to have emergency surgery (he's well now), so Bender headed to the hospital to fill the support role -- camera in hand, as promised.
Having never been present for a C-section, the photographer wasn't entirely sure of what to expect, but she found herself "riveted" by the procedure. "I could not take my eyes off the surgery site. There were moments where I almost forgot to take pictures, because I was so caught up in the amazingness of it all," she said. "I’ve never witnessed any kind of surgery, and this has got to be the best kind out there, so it was very special."
Bender also said that photographing a C-section changed her perspective on the procedure. "I learned that it can be a peaceful, and joyful experience for the mom, it doesn’t have to be something that is full of fear," she said. "Most women find themselves with a C-section delivery after not being able to progress with a vaginal delivery, and of course that does bring fear. But I would challenge them to leave that, and any feelings of 'failure' at the operating room door. I’d tell them to greet their baby as they would have if the birth plan had gone exactly the way they had envisioned it."
Bender's photos capture many aspects of the C-section delivery, from the actual procedure to the moment Carly meets her baby boy Elias. The photographer hopes that people who see these pictures come out with a new understanding of C-sections as well. "Whatever method of delivery that keeps mom and baby healthy, and safe, is a good delivery!" she said, adding, "C-sections are beautiful too. It is still a family, meeting their baby, it’s a miracle."