When Your Birth Doesn't Quite Go To Plan

Maternal instinct kicks in. The body knows what to do.

a woman wearing a cotton birthing dress and medical wristbands holds one hand in her husband's hand and the other over her face in pain as she goes through labor

All photos by Winter Kane. www.winterkane.com with Heart Productions.

I live in Austin, Texas and we're currently experiencing a 100 year storm. It's mid-February 2021 and we got over 6" of snow in one night, in a state with absolutely zero winter preparations. Issue after issue has been facing Texans - power outages for three days, frozen pipes and floods, gas outages, no water. It's been utter chaos and difficult to change game plans on our toes. It was about a year ago that I captured this birth I'm going to tell you about, and this experience of things going wildly out of plan reminded me of this Mom's birth and the power and resilience of the body when it knows what it wants. GOOD BIRTH PARTNER SUPPORT

a man in a blue colts dad scrubs holds his wife against his chest as she takes a break from laboring as a supportive birth partner

black and white image of a laboring pregnant woman with an iv in her hand holding her partner's hand while experiencing a contraction. a doctor in scrubs stands behind.

The support of a good partner is paramount in a healthy birth. This birth I'm going to share is the first birth I ever witnessed, and I had the honor of capturing it in photo and video with Heart Productions. It was exactly the kind of experience one would hope to have for their first time witnessing birth and was the spark to start me on my doula journey. ONE HAPPY PHOTO

a black and white photo of a couple smiling at the camera. the man is wearing a colts dad scrubs and the woman is wearing a cotton laboring dress with medical wristbands, and she is kneeling on the hospital bed. a doctor in birth scrubs stands behind.

Mom was in lots of apparent pain but paused for a moment and grabbed her husband for "one happy photo" before going right back to moaning and groaning.


a woman in labor lays across the bed. her arm rests on the bed. she's wearing a blue cotton dress with colorful handprints from her children on the dress, on her pregnant belly. her partner rests his hand on her side.

For every birth, Mom wears this dress and has her previous child mark their handprint on her pregnant belly. This shot captured all five kids, Mom, and Dad. The whole family in one simple shot.


a laboring woman, frustrated with her birth progress and in pain, cries while kneeling on her hospital bed. her husband and hospital staff watch on.

Baby was facing up rather than down, meaning the head presses against the pelvic bone and Mom and Baby basically go spine-to-spine. Posterior births (occipito-posterior position, aka OP) tend to take longer and be more painful. Sunny side up, face-up births bring lots of potential problems for both Mom and Baby. "Mothers whose babies are face-up at birth:

  • Tend to push longer.

  • More commonly need Pitocin to stimulate contractions.

  • Have a significantly higher risk of having an assisted vaginal delivery or c-section.

  • Are more likely to have an episiotomy and severe perineal tears than moms whose babies are in the more favorable face-down position, even after taking into account the higher rate of forceps and vacuum-assisted delivery.

  • Have a greater risk of postpartum hemorrhage.

The posterior position at birth is associated with a higher risk of short-term complications for the baby, such as lower five-minute Apgar scores, a greater likelihood of needing to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and a longer hospital stay." - Baby Center

a black and white photo of a laboring woman with hair braids and a cotton dress pressing her face into the hospital pillow as she rides through an unmedicated contaction

Having an OP was extremely stressful for Mom because her previous four births were quick and easy. She never had medicated births before and didn't want this one to be any different. Mom had a dream birth in mind and didn't want it to change. There were lots of other medical things being said at the time that honestly I don't remember because this was my first time ever in a birth room. The adrenaline and stress were REAL.

Mom tried different tricks and positions to turn baby over, including loving massages from doting Dad, but nothing was working. She decided for an epidural and I left the room to wait for the procedure to finish.


a black and white photo of a woman experiencing an unmedicated labor on her knees leaning over the back of her hospital bed. her hair is in braids, she looks tired, and there is an iv attached to her hand.

While sitting outside the door waiting, the doctor who came to administer the epidural started entering in his information on the computer in the hallway. I peeked in the room and Mom was on her knees on the ground, her head resting against the foot of the bed, and her back exposed and curved forward, ready for the needle. Back on the bench, my body feeling electric, the loudest most primal yells I've heard in my life come roaring from the delivery room. A bear was suddenly on the other side of the door, and I didn't know if I should dare go in. The lights above me started flicking, the alarm bells rang, and a grip of nurses and the nurse midwife came rushing past me into the room. I followed them in. Mom is on her hands and knees across the width of the bed. The nurse midwife rushed to her side, the nurses surround her, and I'm left with no idea where to stand nor where they're going to lift baby to for that pivotal shot - ultimately, amidst all the chaos, I missed the moment of baby being held up like Simba.


a black and white photo of a mother meeting her son for the first time. she looks on with relief and wonder as he cries

a black and white photo of a woman holding and smiling at her baby boy as hospital staff put him in a baby beanie and put on his medical wristbands

But I was fortunate to capture Mom holding Baby for the FIRST TIME and feeling the utter relief of post-birth and of birthing the placenta. It washes over her. It's beautiful.

a black and white photo of a mother who just gave birth according to her birth plan looking up in exhaustion at her partner, holding her crying baby in her arms

Mama got the unmedicated birth she dreamed of, and her body took over just in time. As she was on her knees getting her back prepped for epidural, she started crowning and baby came out in a roar Powerful, earth-changing stuff. Your body knows what to do; maternal instinct takes over.

a black and white photo of a mother holding her newborn in her arms at the hospital. their limbs are covered in hospital fear

a black and white close up of a brand new baby in hospital hat with mom and dad watching on


a black and white photo of a placenta with attached umbilical cord

Fully swimming in the ecstasy and excitement of Mom successfully birthing her precious baby unmedicated like her dream birth, I was surprised when she asked me to photograph the placenta. What a beautiful thing to witness and remember. Baby's first home and a physical representation of Mom's Love.


a young girl smiles at her brand new brother

a black and white photo of a dad adjusting the hat of his newborn son laying atop his mother who just gave birth with big sister smiling and laughing

Oldest Sister had been there for the birth but went to lunch with Aunt - just before baby was born. She still got to meet her baby brother within moments of birth, though, which I think is really special. Here's to their lifelong bond as siblings and as a family!


black and white close up of dad's hands and wedding ring holding baby's head in the hospital

a woman with purple pajamas holds her baby for her fresh 48 session at st david's hospital

One of my favorite parts of working in the hospital and capturing births is being able to follow up and do newborn Fresh 48 photos and family sessions in their hospital rooms, their small window of time that they're a little family before entering the world together.

black and white photo of parents smiling and laughing as they hold their brand new baby for their 48 hour newborn photo session at st david's hospital

Seeing the parents revel in the baby they worked so hard to bring earth side, and especially when having WITNESSED some of that work, is a wonderful blessing that I do not take for granted. Capturing the love between the parents and baby is always a treat to me.


close up of newborn's face sucking on teal blue hospital pacifier with hospital bands on his wrist

close up of baby's hospital wristband as he sucks on his hand

close up of a colorful umbilical cord with the hospital still clamped on. baby wears a diaper and lays on a white blanket with blue and green dinosaur designs

This baby has the *~*prettiest*~* umbilical cord I've ever seen.

close up of baby feet in a hospital crib bassinet with hospital blankets. baby wears a diaper and has hospital safety bands on his ankles

Babies are only so tiny for such a small amount of time. I love capturing the details that you never want to forget.


close up of a sassy skeptical baby staring right at camera. baby lays on white background and has hospital safety wristbands on

Oh, those baby portraits. This is where my photo style really shines. I spend my sessions holding ceremony for these babies, being their first creative partner, letting how they're feeling dictate the session. It's my small way of asking for and receiving consent from these little humans. I focus on capturing their personalities when they show them, and boy do they!

black and white photo of a baby laying on a white background wrapped in a white blanket with dinosaur designs holding mom's finger while her hand is out of frame. the baby has hospital wristbands on and his eyes are closed