Alice Proujansky said she felt prepared before giving birth to her son in 2012. By then, she had already photographed nearly 15 births in the United States and around the world and said she felt ready for the transformative experience.

As a young child, Proujansky had witnessed the births of both her sister and brother, but was more fascinated by the wallpaper in the room, choosing to photograph that instead. She took her first photograph of a live birth in 2006 while visiting a hospital in the Dominican Republic where she had previously volunteered during a semester abroad. It turned out to be a powerful experience for her, one that would ultimately shape her experience as a photographer and begin an ongoing series about birth titled “Birth Culture.”

Maternity patients' relatives wait outside the maternity ward at the Juan Pablo Pina public hospital in San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic. Female relatives are allowed to enter the ward after delivery, when they care for their family members, but men are not allowed to enter.  (Photo Credit: Alice Proujansky)
Maternity patients’ relatives wait outside the maternity ward at the Juan Pablo Pina public hospital in San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic. Female relatives are allowed to enter the ward after delivery, when they care for their family members, but men are not allowed to enter. (Photo Credit: Alice Proujansky)
Jen Carnig holds her son Wiley James Carnig Lavoie immediately after his birth at home as her husband Dan Lavoie, daughter Olive Carnig-Lavoie and best friend Lisa Johnson, look on. (Photo Credit: Alice Proujansky)
Jen Carnig holds her son Wiley James Carnig Lavoie immediately after his birth at home as her husband Dan Lavoie, daughter Olive Carnig-Lavoie and best friend Lisa Johnson, look on. (Photo Credit: Alice Proujansky)
A nurse inserts Megan Tudryn's IV in preparation for an epidural at the Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, MA. The staff encourages women to make their own decisions about pain management during labor.With few exceptions, midwifery forms the basis of the hospital's obstetric care, while doctors provide backup and a tertiary care hospital an hour away consults. (Photo Credit: Alice Proujansky)
A nurse inserts Megan Tudryn’s IV in preparation for an epidural at the Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, MA. The staff encourages women to make their own decisions about pain management during labor.With few exceptions, midwifery forms the basis of the hospital’s obstetric care, while doctors provide backup and a tertiary care hospital an hour away consults. (Photo Credit: Alice Proujansky)
A visitor holds Habibat Adeboye's baby shortly after delivery at the Doctors Without Borders-run Aiyetoro Health Centre in Lagos, Nigeria. The clinic offers free care to women who live in a slum and have poor access to health care. At the time, federal doctors were on strike. (Photo Credit: Alice Proujansky)
A visitor holds Habibat Adeboye’s baby shortly after delivery at the Doctors Without Borders-run Aiyetoro Health Centre in Lagos, Nigeria. The clinic offers free care to women who live in a slum and have poor access to health care. At the time, federal doctors were on strike. (Photo Credit: Alice Proujansky)
Midwife Dorothy Igoro Chinyere examines a patient immediately following delivery at the Doctors Without Borders-run Aiyetoro Health Centre. (Photo Credit: Alice Proujansky)
Midwife Dorothy Igoro Chinyere examines a patient immediately following delivery at the Doctors Without Borders-run Aiyetoro Health Centre. (Photo Credit: Alice Proujansky)
Laura Mejia, 38 labors at the Birth Place, assisted by her husband, Brandon Smith and doula Stephanie Abdullah-Simmons.All patients at this birth center in Winter Garden, FL deliver with midwives unless a complication arises, in which case they are transferred to a hospital. The process offers a model of safe, low-cost, respectful maternity care that is unusual in the United States, where most women give birth with doctors and outcomes are comparatively poor among developed nations. (Photo Credit: Alice Proujansky)
Laura Mejia, 38 labors at the Birth Place, assisted by her husband, Brandon Smith and doula Stephanie Abdullah-Simmons.All patients at this birth center in Winter Garden, FL deliver with midwives unless a complication arises, in which case they are transferred to a hospital. The process offers a model of safe, low-cost, respectful maternity care that is unusual in the United States, where most women give birth with doctors and outcomes are comparatively poor among developed nations. (Photo Credit: Alice Proujansky)
Traditional Mayan midwife Elsa Gonzalez Ayala shows CASA Midwifery School students how to perform a traditional Mayan massage used to shrink a woman's uterus and reduce post-partum bleeding - on Nelsi Marvella Tuk Balam.CASA Midwifery School students traveled to the rural village of Chunhuhub to learn traditional methods from traditional Mayan midwives and to teach them contemporary practices in exchange. (Photo Credit: Alice Proujansky)
Traditional Mayan midwife Elsa Gonzalez Ayala shows CASA Midwifery School students how to perform a traditional Mayan massage used to shrink a woman’s uterus and reduce post-partum bleeding – on Nelsi Marvella Tuk Balam.CASA Midwifery School students traveled to the rural village of Chunhuhub to learn traditional methods from traditional Mayan midwives and to teach them contemporary practices in exchange. (Photo Credit: Alice Proujansky)
Alice Proujansky
A patient with her newborn baby at the Juan Pablo Pina public hospital in San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic. (Photo Credit: Alice Proujansky)

Read the whole story at Slate

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