“I tucked my chin to my chest, I balanced my camera on my stomach, I looked in my viewfinder, and started shooting.”
Megan Mattiuzzo is a 29-year-old professional wedding photographer based in Hamburg, New York. She just gave birth to her firstborn a week ago; she and her husband named their son Easton.
Before Easton was born, Mattiuzzo was looking for a way to document his entrance into the world. She had several photographer friends who offered to be in the room with her and her husband to photograph the birth, but she had another idea.
Mattuizzo was intent on capturing one specific and special shot that she could only take herself.
“I wanted one photo, and it would be from my perspective from what I’m seeing: my son’s first breaths and what he’s seeing in the world,” she told BuzzFeed News.
So she planned to take the first shots of her newborn while she was in labor.
“They all said they thought I was crazy,” she joked of her friends.
But on the day of her 12-hour labor, and with one final push, Mattuizzo grabbed hold of her camera and captured truly stunning images of her newborn son from his mom’s perspective.
Mattiuzzo said looking at these images post-labor, she’s “overwhelmed with happiness” with how they turned out. However, the planning and road to this moment were not easy.
Firstly, she made sure her camera settings were adjusted for the lighting and sequences of the shots. She had her husband hold onto the camera for the majority of her labor, and planned for him to quickly hand it to her at the final moment.
On the day of her labor, some complications made the task much harder.
“My epidural wasn’t 100% effective. The left side of my stomach didn’t take, [and the] labor was very intense,” she said. “At one point I looked at my husband and said, ‘I don’t know if I can do this.'”
But she committed because she knew she would “regret it if [she] didn’t.”
“About an hour into my pushing, my doctor said ‘This should be your final push’ and I tucked my chin to my chest, I balanced my camera on my stomach, I looked in my viewfinder, and started shooting.”
“First you see the top of his head…then his hands…it was amazing,” she described, calling it a “Simba moment.”
“I threw my camera back at my husband, they laid the baby on my chest, and started wiping him off.”
She said her final contraction was incredibly painful, and made more complicated by her photography plans. But she also noted her dedication to capturing the moment helped ease the pain too.
“The focus went away from the pain,” she said. “It’s your son, it’s your child. Seeing him…I can’t describe the feeling. You go nine months not knowing what they look like, who they are. And then to see finally see a healthy baby, you’re just overwhelmed with happiness.”
Mattiuzzo added that having these one-of-a-kind birth photos now makes her believe that her plans were not “a crazy request” after all.
(Fun fact: Right before she was induced, she asked the hospital to turn the overhead lights off in the room and leave a bright spotlight on the end of her bed for the shot.)
The new mom said she’s incredibly grateful for the help and support of the Sisters of Charity Hospital and to her doctor, Dr. Maria Lagopoulos of the Neighborhood Health Center, to accomplish this feat.
She advises any soon-to-be mothers who are inspired by this idea, but who aren’t professional photographers, to be fully prepared heading into labor.
Before any plans were in place, she said she consulted Dr. Lagopoulos about it. Her doctor approved her decision to move forward because she had a healthy pregnancy.
“Make sure ahead of time that you’re familiar with your camera and how rapidly changing the settings could be,” Mattiuzzo further advises. “Know your camera, so you don’t look back and realize [your photos] are blurry.”
Although, she adds that the photos do not “have to be perfect.” They serve as memories.
“Being a photographer, especially specializing in weddings…you rely on your photographer to capture that moment to relive them. For me it was the same thought process,” said Mattiuzzo.
“I might remember the moment myself, but memories fade. The visual photo for me is to relive that moment of happiness, that relief. He’s here, he looks healthy. … It’s nice to have that photo.”