newborn lifestyle photography

Lancaster Birth Photography: Eliora's Natural Hospital Birth Story

Lancaster birth photography of mother and baby Eliora

One of my goals for 2019 was to photograph a birth. Other than the births of my two children, I have never been present for such a sacred moment as this. I have always loved story telling with my camera and since birth is something I am passionate about I knew I would enjoy documenting it. After all, giving birth is one of the most momentous, miraculous and amazing things a human woman can do and I wanted to show just how incredible it can be.

I put the word out on social media that I was hoping to photograph a birth for a nominal fee and was surprised at the response of willing moms who came forward. One of the moms who reached out to me was Beth who was expecting her fourth baby girl at the end of August. When I discovered she lived just a few blocks from us here in Cabbage Hill, Lancaster City, I felt it was meant to be.

I don’t have the best words to describe what it was like to photograph the birth of Eliora but it moved me (to tears) watching this beautiful mama work to bring her fourth baby girl into this world. Beth endured a long tiring labor so beautifully without complaint, even laughing and making jokes throughout (and without any painkillers or epidural I might add). I should also mention that Beth had been having pretty intense contractions for a few days before she even went into labor so I can only imagine the exhaustion she must have felt.

I met Beth and her husband Jack for the first time in the delivery room. Jack had the most peaceful, calm presence the entire time. I learned that he could sense the strength of her contractions by how hard she was squeezing his hand. She later told me that this was by far her most difficult and long labor. Her pregnancy was considered high risk because of the baby having a two vessel cord instead of three (meaning less blood flow/food to baby) but Beth showed no sense of worry or fear. Honestly I could not believe how calm and quiet she was the entire time because with both of my labors I was making a LOT of noise by the time I was nearing transition.

For me it was amazing to watch how Beth knew her body so well and how Jack encouraged her and trusted her to do her thing. Watching little Eliora come into this world was by far the peak moment. She was born with a perfect knot in her umbilical cord (see photo below), which I’m told is extremely rare. The crazy thing is, my daughter was also born with a perfect knot in her cord, so once again I felt a sense of divine connection and knew that photographing my first birth story with Eliora was meant to be. What an incredible labor of love to witness and photograph, and one I’m sure never to forget.

Note: I decided to tell the story in black and white for consistency. I don’t think any of these images are too graphic but if you’ve never seen what a placenta looks like, be forewarned you will see one below. Shout out to the amazing nurses at Lancaster General Women and Babies Hospital for providing excellent care and to Dr. Eichenlaub for the delivery (and not minding a photographer in the room).

Melissa Engle Photography offers portrait and lifestyle photography in Lancaster, PA. Please contact me if you would like to make some photo magic together!

Media Newborn Photography: An In Home Newborn Lifestyle Session With Baby Henry


Say hello to baby Henry! This was my first newborn lifestyle session of 2019 and it could not have been more perfect. It took big brother Oliver a little while to warm up to the strange lady with the camera, but once he did he was excited to show me his toys and how much he loves chocolate chip cookies (me too!). I love that the family dog was even able to pose for a few photos and give baby Henry some puppy kisses. I have to say, baby Henry made my job as a photographer pretty darn easy. He was alert and happy pretty much the entire time and even dozed off for a little while towards the end before pushing out a big poop, newborn style. And look at his little forehead wrinkles!

I am looking forward to photographing many more newborn lifestyle sessions in the near future. I know for myself as a mom those first few weeks can feel like such a blur and then you blink and your baby is not so tiny anymore. I am so very thankful for the images I have from our newborn lifestyle session when my son was a few weeks old (he turns one this month!). Even though I was exhausted the morning the photographer came and still feeling overwhelmed as a new mom of two, I look back at those photos fondly and I’m so glad we have them to treasure.

Melissa Engle Photography offers portrait and lifestyle photography in Lancaster, PA. Please contact me if you would like to make some photo magic together!