Life of a Melbourne Birth Photographer- By Spikey Hedgehog Photography

The words to Carley Rae Jepsen’s “Call me Maybe” float into my dream and I realise that the phone on my night stand is ringing.  I look over at the clock and it says 02:34am.  I answer a croaky “Hello!”  It is the call from one of the mums and she has rung to tell me her waters broke 2 hours ago and her contractions are now at 3 mins apart and that they are heading into the birth centre.  It is time.

My clothes are neatly arranged at the end of my bed with my shoes, jacket and client info sheet.  I sneak quietly out of the room and brush my teeth…. Cmon… I can’t go with morning breath!!

My camera bag waits at the front door, batteries, memory card and back up body all fully charged and ready to go.  I head out the door.  It is 02.47am.  This particular mum is overdue.  I have been ready every night for her for the past 11 days.  The familar excitement and adrenalin fills my belly.  I start the car and make my way through the quiet dark streets.  There is noone on the road, I get every green light.

Twenty minutes later I arrive at the birth centre and make my way up to the birth unit.  The midwives are expecting me and I quietly make my way along the corridor to the room.  I lightly knock at the door and I enter in the room silently.  There they are.  The beaming smiles of the couple tell me everything.  They are going to meet their baby today.

The next contraction starts and so I quietly make my way to the chair in the corner and wait for it to subside.  This is the moment I take out my camera.  A few shots are taken, the restful period before the next surge, the relaxed expression on mums face, the concerned love on dads.

We go on like this for several more hours, I carefully choose the moments to capture, the angle that flatters, whilst maintaing modesty and not interrupting the sacred moment between the two of them.  Occasionally I take a walk, make myself and the dad to be a cuppa, refresh the cool towel for the mum, refill her water jug all while keeping the quiet and restful vibe that fills the room.  This is not a time for talking, joking or moving around. The time is close.  Soon there will be a baby.

The mums moans indicate her need to push.  Dad holds her hand and  strokes her head with wide eyes.  He feels so helpless yet he is being an amazing support to his partner.  The calming voice of the midwife tells the mum she is “complete.”  She can push when she feels she is ready to. The next surge comes and mum uses every last aching bit of energy she has left to bring her baby down.  This continues over and over.  Finally, we can see that a baby is about to join us.  Dad whispers encouragement and nervously takes a look to see his first glimpse of his child.  ” They have hair sweetheart… keep going, they are nearly here” he whispers to his love.  With her last remaining strength she brings her child to birth and pulls her daughter to her chest with the help of her ever supportive midwife.  Tears fill the room, a baby cries and a family is born.

All of these moments are captured.  The pain, the peace, the life and the tears.  A new family is before me getting to know each other.  Sweet, tender kisses, glistening tears and expressions of love fill the room.  This is a moment I cannot explain fully.  To be a spectator to this wonderful moment, to capture all of this emotive energy and love.  I can only show you through the images that result from nights such as this one, why I do what I do.

I wait for just a bit to capture as many details of this first moment.  It might be weighing of the baby, first breastfeed, getting dressed….. and then I leave with a quiet goodbye, congratulations and “well done.”

I get back in my car and say a grateful prayer.  A baby was born safely into the arms of her parents today.  I was given the privilege to attend. I look at the clock in the car, 09:12am.

I start the car and drive back home to kiss my own babies, reflecting on my own births and looking forward to attending the next birth and going through it all over again.

Jill xo

A birth story- Melbourne Birth Photography

Well as you may have seen already another beautiful baby was born recently and if you happened to have missed this little ones slideshow… then here it is again for you 🙂 SLIDESHOW

It was such a special birth to attend.  I do love it when the couple have decided not to find out the sex of their baby beforehand!  ( Personally, I have never had such self control) but let me tell you all, it makes for some winning shots!!!

I really enjoyed attending this birth, it was a true joy to be there.  I have to say that Facebook was rather upset with one of my images and so promptly removed it.  Which one I hear you cry??  Well I shall add that to the few I will show below!!  It is the rebellious side of me, but I know how thrilled I was that R and G let me share such an image with you.  Those who appreciate labour and its ebb and flow and the calm and tranquil times that are a part of this journey to birth.  Enjoy!  It’s my blog and I’ll show it if I want too 😉

Now the best part!!  The birth story.  R has written so beautifully so please know that the following text is in her words and she so kindly has shared her personal journey with us all, enjoy it, respect it and reflect on your own .  I know I did!

Jill xo

Claire’s Birth

I’m not sure birth was quite what I was expecting, it does however in many ways, play out precisely in the stages you talk about during prenatal classes. A universal western frustration with first births – from what I can gather, is about ‘when to go into hospital’. They say, ‘you’ll just know’ which is frustrating – but you kind of do just know… However much you can’t prepare for birth there are things that you can do and we are extremely happy with the choices we made, including our original decision of (hoping) to have our baby at a Birth Centre rather than via the standard hospital system. Birth Centres accept non-complicated pregnancies and aim for minimal intervention re. drugs, which is essentially better for the baby – there are also some great perks such as the partner being able to stay the night nd a more ‘home-like’ environment. If you want an epidural you get moved out into the main birth suites. If you get gestational diabetes, you’re out. The pregnancy wasn’t devoid of issues – including some strange ones like low platelets and two trips to the ER but on the whole things went smoothly.

Even if we could afford private healthcare, the idea of an obstetrician didn’t really float my boat. My sister is a midwife and I am confident in the care that they offer. Midwifery (simplistically) is a happy medium between doctor and doula. It didn’t bother me at all that I saw different midwives almost every appointment, I kind of liked it better that way. Going public barely cost us anything and the care and service was exceptional. On the other end of the scale, we’re not home-birth kind of people at all, I’d rather have the medical backup if required. The Birth Centre was a great middle ground. We’re not hippies… we’re nerds.

Claire graced us in coming essentially a day after her due date (the second date – and the one the midwives were running with). My revised guess the week leading up was that she’d come on the 29th, and I wasn’t too far wrong. I did spend a fair amount of time sitting forward/scrubbing floors etc. in an attempt to a) speed things along as I was getting bored b) she was partially posterior and I was hoping she would turn. I also entirely completed my ‘to-do’ list including the one last random DIY – which I had banked as completely optional.

A few days before Claire was born I was researching birth photography online to give Geoff some idea of the kind of photos I’d like him to take and I came across Spikey Hedgehog Photography, I enquired, entirely not expecting to have anything of the sort happen so close to the baby being due but because I was curious. A back and forth email conversation in the early hours of the morning and Jill was on-board, I met her the next day.

Labor kicked in about 3am on Wednesday morning (27th June) we decided that Geoff should stick around at home rather than head in to work. We spent the day watching Grand Designs, eating from our stockpile of snacks and timing contractions on the iPhone. Things stalled early morning, frustratingly, and didn’t pick up again until late afternoon. I used a heat pack and we put the TENS machine on pretty early and kept that going. Such a smart decision to hire one, I cannot recommend them enough! So we stuck it out. By evening – whenever I got into the shower things would speed up considerably (between 2-4 minutes). We called the hospital and they said wait a bit to see how things went and come on in when we thought we should. A few hours later we decided to head in, they weren’t terribly busy and we thought things could keep progressing with the use of water.

Things slowed down again with the change of location. Once there we tried the shower again and sure enough things picked up. We hit a shift change pretty soon after our arrival, which worked really well. I knew the first midwife from a few clinic visits but hadn’t really met the second. The familiarity of the first midwife was great was she is lovely and was perfect for us to get settled. I was praying for someone through labour who would be a good fit for us and the shift change bought pretty well exactly the kind of midwife I needed, not overly saccharine, respectful and present but not in our faces.

Jill showed up not long after we arrived and met Geoff, I probably vaguely acknowledged her but that was kind of it. You’re not terribly interested in concentrating on anything much except contractions. I alternated between the shower and sitting on a birth ball (yeah a gym ball people – nothing more special than that) as I preferred the TENS to the shower – although I’m not sure I actually let anyone know that verbally. Geoff was extremely wonderful throughout. I was pretty vocal – more so than I thought I would be.

After who knows how many hours the midwife suggested I try the bath, and I remember wishing it would hurry up and fill up faster as I was pretty desperate for a change. The bath was not the immediate mind blowing relief I was hoping for – I think I thought it might magically take a lot of the pain away, it did work really well, just not quite as beautifully as I unrealistically hoped. It was great having the room for Geoff to be there too to help hold me up – along with the rail. We were both exhausted and I felt Geoff doze off a few times (apparently it happens a lot with that room… warm and comfortable – not quite your Peninsula Hot Springs…) and it was goodly (sic) distracting to have to pay attention in keeping both keep him and myself awake.

At 4am my waters broke spontaneously – in the bath, another thing I was extremely happy about not having happen prior to hospital as the risk of induction and the use of intervention jumps if your waters break and things don’t move. Things progressed a bit more rapidly then. I had extremely bad back pain – it turns out Claire was posterior – which I didn’t really realise at the time. The midwife suggested sterile water injections as an option but aptly warned me – this was something I had discussed with my sister, who is a midwife only a week before. Foolishly (or wisely) I requested them. Sterile water injections are four injections given simultaneously with a contraction. They are literally just water beads injected under the surface of your skin – and work on nerve gateway principles and block pain. They work insanely well. I had two midwifes during a contraction. I had no idea I could make that kind of noise. They hurt. They hurt. They hurt. They work. Geoff marks this as possibly the most terrifying part of the whole labour. They tell you they hurt like a bad bee-sting… this was some kind of mutant bee.

Things moved pretty quickly after that. I did get really ‘pushy’ quite early. Too early. They got me out of the bath and back to the room where they put me on a drip as the babies heart rate was quite high as I was dehydrated despite my best attempts to drink. Red Powerade makes for nasty vomit… I got stuck at 7cm dilated. I couldn’t pee. They put a catheter in. Thank goodness. You’re not meant to like these things but glory it was good. The concentration of transition and having to breathe through and not push was genuinely horrible. The catheter meant things could actually keep moving.

The pushing bit of having a baby is not the worst bit. I’m not sure why this bit is always understood as the worst. It’s difficult, it’s bloody painful but you get a chance to rest and genuinely stop between pushes. It’s helpful having the end finally in sight and yet frustrating when you think each push is going to be ‘it’ but it doesn’t quite get you there.

Claire Matilda arrived at 8.11am on the 28th of June. She was posterior – face out (a real treat for the midwives, Geoff and Jill – not so for me). Geoff knew she was a girl when he saw the top half of her face. It was emotionally foreign and wonderful and entirely overwhelming. She was tiny and amazing.

I delivered the placenta physiologically (no drugs again) despite being offered an injection – which I half accepted and then figured I’d got this far, I might as well go the whole way, far less rewarding this bit – you kind of just want your uterus to stop working and to sleep/enjoy your baby. Prior to birth I was rather scared of tearing. I tore. I asked them if it was going to hurt – I’m not sure why I didn’t factor in that you get a local before they stitch you up but it was an odd (and somewhat ridiculous) relief. I did use gas then and the local and it wasn’t bad – the recovery hasn’t been bad either (all things considered).

And then we were. Tired. But new. With a little girl 3.5kg, 51cm long, a head of hair and little mole on the right side of her face.

Such a huge thanks to Geoff for his incredible support, to Zoe especially and Christina and the Mercy Family Birth Centre for their experience and wisdom and to Jill for her stunning photographs and help through the whole labour. I am so grateful we had the opportunity to record this life changing event.

It is two and a half weeks on. The days are kind of blurry – which I think keeps you sane. The Tour de France is on and helpful in keeping company at 1am. People have bought us so many meals. We have been out and about a bit, to grandparents, to bookclub, to the shops, to church.

We are adjusting, and loving it. She make hilarious faces and cute ‘smiles’ and has a deep cry. Breastfeeding sucks (pardon any pun, but it does) despite probably going considerably well.

She’s good. It is good

Melbourne Birth and Newborn Photography

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Well, exciting news!!  Melbourne based Spikey Hedgehog has branched out and is going to be specialising in newborn and birth photography!! This may leave many of you thinking “Ewwwwwwwww”. Don’t judge too quickly though my friends as this area of photography is becoming increasingly popular with our northern mums-to-be.
Imagine capturing those beautiful moments during delivery and birth, when the cord is cut and your baby is gently placed on your chest? Tasteful, black and white images capturing not just the event, but, the raw emotion of that moment you were handed your precious little one for the first time.

At this time we are only able to offer this service to Melbourne mums-to-be. So if you are in the Melbourne area, are pregnant and would love this opportunity please contact me at for more details.

As a mother of four and a mothercraft nurse for over 16 years this is an area I know I am going to enjoy!! I have some beautiful births to attend soon so watch this space for some gorgeous images……… I am sure you will agree there really is nothing more beautiful!

Birth of a sweet baby girl.

Hi everyone!  Hope your week has been good!

I had one of my VIP mummas go into labour finally…. 12 days after her due date.  She was planning a beautiful homebirth and had organised an independent midwife to assist her.  She did so well until things really started to not go down the best road.  With meconium evident in the waters a transfer to her local hospital was organised.  So disappointing for her but the health of her and her baby were clearly the priority.

After many more hours at the hospital it became evident that there was no progress and so ultimately the baby girl was born safely via a C section.

Although this was not at all the way my VIP mum had anticipated her birth story to be, the happiness and joy of holding her baby safe and sound was evident.

Spikey has been very busy this week with many exciting ventures in the pipeline for the next 12 months.  Can’t wait to share them with you soon.

Til next time

Jill xo


Spikey Features in Cosmopolitan Pregancy Magazine

Well today has been a rather awesome day!!

Three months ago Cosmopolitan Pregnancy Australia magazine had asked Spikey to feature a story on birth photography for their readers.  What an honour.  Of course was my reply!!  I had to find one of my clients who would be happy to share their story and some of their gorgeous images.

As I have so many fabulous clients it was not difficult to find a couple who would be happy to oblige.   The lovely Mon and Doug were chosen and they certainly did not let Spikey Hedgehog down in sharing the beauty of birth photography with everyone!

I stopped by the Baby and Toddler Expo that is on in Melbourne this very weekend and said hi to the lovely people at the Cosmo stand.  They are such great people and I was able to get my very own copy of this magazine a few days early before it is out officially on Monday!!


So be sure to pop down to your local newsagency on Monday and pick yourself up a copy and have a lookout for the article!

Til next time




Jill xo


New premises for Spikey Hedgehog!

In the craziness that has been the last 10 days Spikey has had many changes. I have moved in to a new office located in Brighton, Melbourne.  This is a fabulous and exciting change and I can’t wait to meet with my upcoming new VIP’s in the new office.

I have a few new clients that have joined  my VIP list and am really enjoying meeting and getting to know them before their big days.

The response since appearing on Sunrise has been so great.  The interest in the birth photography genre has certainly been on the increase.

Spikey has many more exciting things in the pipeline.  A feature in Pregnancy Cosmopolitan magazine being one of them.  That issue will be released at the end of next week and I am looking forward to seeing one my much loved couples featured.  You might recognise them from the interview on Sunrise.

I look forward my next few births that are due any day now!!  Til then,


Be happy!


Jill xo

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Spikey made Sunrise!

Well, I don’t think that my week could have been any more exciting if it tried!!

It started by making front page of my local Leader newspaper.  A fabulously written article discussing the new genre of birth photography and how a local woman ( me) was having more and more mums-to-be wanting this beautiful moment in their life documented.

From that I received phone calls from 3AW radio and Sunrise producers wanting to know more about this new and interesting photography niche.

I quickly jumped on this rollercoaster that I was, until this point so unfamiliar with, yet so grateful to be asked to be a part of.

Within 24 hours a couple of my lovely past clients were meeting at my home studio and we were joined by the camera team to record the back story.  It was so great to be back with these gorgeous past clients.  They shared their view on how they found having their birth story captured and did so in such a beautiful and eloquent way.

Monday morning came around quickly and I headed to the Channel 7 studios to cross live with the Sydney studio to be interviewed by the lovely Melissa Doyle.  She was a darling and made me relax and feel free to be able to share all the reasons why I love being a part of this unique genre and how honoured I felt to be invited into such a precious and private part of couples lives.

I cannot lie though, I was most relieved when it was all over, however, I would not exchange that moment for anything.  Having the opportunity to share with the entire country why this is something I feel so proud to be a part of.

No other work could bring me the joy and satisfaction of witnessing firsthand the love of two people as they meet their precious little one for the first time. To capture this and be a small part of such a beautiful time in their life is a true honour for me.

If you would like to watch Spikey on breakfast television please take a look at the link below!!

So for now I will gently come down from my high and back into normal life.  I feel like I have had an amazing dream.  I look forward to seeing where this will all lead and if I will infact wake up!!

Til next time

Spikey xo

Media attention for Spikey Hedgehog Photography this week!

Well what an exciting week I have had ! I have been dying to share with you all the juicy, exciting moments that have been part of this crazy week.

This week Spikey made front cover of her local newspaper.  Yes front cover!  A couple of her favourite clients also were on there .  You can see and read the article HERE.

The spin off from that article has been rather awesome as the radio station 3AW connected me for an on air interview which was conducted during drive time yesterday afternoon.  It was so great to have more awareness brought to the genre of birth photography.  Spikey has been working very hard to help make the Australian public aware of this beautiful option for telling the story of the little ones arrival!  The interview can be heard HERE.  It is talk back radio so the actual interview starts around 1 min 30 secs into the link 🙂

A few other exciting opportunites are in the pipeline so I am looking forward to sharing those things as they unfold!

Til next time

Spikey Hedgehog Photography


Jill xo

Latest Birth Photography Slideshow!

Hi everyone,

Just a quick press today to let you know the slideshow from the last birth I attended is now up for you to see.

Hope you enjoy watching the highlights as much as I enjoyed attending and being a part of this lovely family’s special day!!

Are you following me on Facebook?

Slideshow can be viewed HERE!

Baby Blake and the other birthing news from Spikey Hedgehog!

Oh my goodness!! I am so sorry to have been so slack to my blog. Please know darling blog that I do care for you and think of you often!! So much has been happening in Spikey’s life lately that I barely can keep up.

The highlights?? An article and interview with one of my favourite birth clients is to be printed in the next edition of Cosmo Pregnancy magazine here in Australia!! So that would have to be a highlight!! So be sure to check shelves for the release on April 15th!!

Spikey was on the radio last weekend!! Another highlight. I was interviewed on Mix 101.1FM about birth photography and what Spikey Hedgehog does….. the host also made a jingle for me… was quite hilarious, you can check that out here!!

Hmmmmm oh yes let me not forget about the most beautiful couple who delivered their son last weekend. One totally gorgeous baby as you will see from the following photos! Was such a joy to be there.

So many more things will be coming up over the coming months so cannot wait to share with you all!!
Still trying to convince the gorgeous Fifi Box to consider having her beautiful upcoming birth captured by Spikey, but I guess it is hard as a celebrity to take on these things….. so much for them to consider with their high profile! Shame I think for them.

Anyway, I will leave you all with some of the latest images!! Sorry it has been so long. I won’t be that long between drinks next time!!

Til next time
Jill xo

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Melbourne Birth Photography Specialist!

Well it is official!! After looking at the birth bookings that have come in for 2013 I have decided to truly specialise in my true love and passion. This means that I will no longer be offering wedding or family portrait photography, but exclusively offering this beautiful story telling. I am very excited and honoured that I have reached this point in my business and it is only with the trust and positive expressions shared from fabulous clients to the big wide world that I am able to do this!!


So if you are in Melbourne and are interested in having your story captured please email me

I look forward to sharing many more highlights from my upcoming births during 2013 and appreciate the ongoing support and love that everyone gives Spikey Hedgehog Photography! Thanks again.

Jill xo










Family Session Melbourne

Well my holidays certainly ended and it was straight back into work for 2013.  I had the pleasure of photographing this gorgeous family.  Kristy is the editor of Nurture-Natural Parenting Magazine and I actually do a fair bit of photography for her magazine.  It covers topics that I feel passionately about and has some great contributors with some very interesting articles.  If you are a parent and aren’t subscribed yet…. well?  Whatcha doin??  Go on pop on over to and subscribe, there is also a supportive and informative forum, or you can visit her Facebook page at

Now for her images…. here are a few of my favourites.  Her little boy was such a cheeky treasure with a beautiful smile.  We had a lovely warm summer day down at St Kilda.  The kite surfers were out in full force which made for an interesting backdrop for their session.

I do love Melbourne.  So many different, wonderful locations to choose from!

Enjoy xo

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How to choose your birth photographer.

With this genre becoming increasingly more popular amongst photographers wanting to try their hand at birth photography, the options for potential birth clients are endless.

This is a good thing for clients.  So what questions should you as a client be asking a potential photographer when considering them to document your birth?

The most important aspect to consider would be how comfortable you feel with that person.  You are going to be allowing this person to be included at a very personal, intimate and important moment of your life.  Possibly your initial contact would be via email.  How did that person seem?  Were they interested in you as a person? Were the answers to your queries answered sufficiently or did you feel rushed?  If you spoke with them on the phone, how did you feel about the conversation?  Was it easy and conversational, or did you feel awkward with them?  These are all factors to take into account.

Next consider the level of experience your potential photographer has.  How many births have they attended?  What is the quality of their work?  Have they documented other’s stories in a way that you would like?  Ask to see some examples of their work from start to finish for a good idea of their style.  Just like a wedding photographer, you are considering this person to document one of the most important days of your life.  Are they properly insured? What birth circumstances have they photographed?  How would they handle potential complications during your labour and delivery?   By asking these questions you can be assured of how they would handle potential situations in your own birth.

Pricing is going to be a big factor for many clients.  Pricing will vary widely and choosing someone who can look after your budget, especially at an already expensive time, will obviously be an important consideration.  Be wary though.  As important as it is be sure you are not leaving your precious memories to someone who is inadequately qualified to document your story well.  As the saying goes… ” you pay peanuts you get monkeys!”

At the end of the day trusting your own instincts on who is the right person to attend your birth is imperative.  An experienced birth photographer will be able to answer all of these questions and more to your satisfaction.  There are many fabulous options out there, all with unique and beautiful styles.  There is sure to be someone in your area to suit you.


Jillian is a birth photography specialist based in Melbourne Victoria.    She is also a qualified mothercraft nurse and mother to 4.  For more information on documenting your birth please contact her via email at   Visit her website at or on Facebook at


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