Melissa Cate Photography bio picture
  • Welcome to Melissa Cate Photography, by Melissa & Krystle

    We are Melissa & Krystle, the photographers of Melissa Cate Photography. We are passionate about documenting birth and the transition into Motherhood. We are blessed to be the birth photographers for Trillium Waterbirth Center in Southern Oregon. Documenting the birth journey of women and babies is one of the greatest joys a photographer can have, and we respect the beauty and sanctity of the moments you chose to have us document.

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    Why Birth Photography?
    by Melissa

    I had my first daughter six years ago. It is a day that will forever be close to my heart, evoking some of the most powerful emotions of love, triumph, and euphoria I have ever known. At the time I did not know birth photography existed. I wish I had. I was lucky to have a nurse take photos for us as our daughter was entering our world. And I love the photos - I looked at them hundreds of times in the months after she was born. I studied the time stamp to understand exactly when moments happened. I looked carefully at each photo to remember the conversations that took place, what I was feeling in the moment. It was easier to piece together little details by looking at the photos. I still look at them and soak in the amazing moments we experienced meeting our daughter for the first time. But they were shot with a little point and shoot camera, and even though the photos I do have are so precious to me, I wish I had more. So much more.

    As I learned from first hand experience, hiring a birth photographer is usually not the first thought that comes to mind when thinking about birth plans, and the thought of someone photographing such a personal and private moment can be intimidating. But once that amazing little miracle is in your arms, the overwhelming desire to freeze each moment in time takes over.

    Your birth team does not have to worry about fumbling with a camera, or worry about missing out on first moments because they are behind the camera. Let a professional document each moment, tastefully and discreetly. Someone who has years of birth work experience, and will attend your birth calmly and quietly, documenting the first look, the first time you examine tiny baby fingernails, the first moment you smell the perfectly new baby smell.

The Incredible Umbilical Cord

One of the popular debates in the birth community recently is delayed cord clamping after a baby is born – the theory (and supported by research) is baby can benefit greatly from the last of the blood transferred from the placenta to the baby via umbilical cord. Some benefits include more optimal oxygen transport and higher red blood cell flow to vital organs, reduced infant anemia and much more! If you have ever watched a cord change as it transfers the last of the blood to baby, it’s easy to understand why it should be allowed to finish it’s job. Over the years I’ve photographed a few cords in various states, from the thick, full cord, to the limp empty one after all the blood has been transferred.

Cords have many different looks. Some are tightly spiraled, some are very loosely spiraled, some have a repetitive spiral pattern and some have random spirals – some have no spirals at all! They seem to be as unique as the babies attached to them. Cords can also vary greatly in length – if a baby does get tangled in it’s cord during gestation, the cord will actually grow longer to prevent it from being pulled too tightly as the baby descends during labor. If a cord is too short, it can cause distress during birth as the baby tries to move down. I’ve seen a cord that was just 16 inches, and a cord that was 4 feet long ! (Which the midwife joked could have been used as a jump rope.). Can you guess how many times that 4 foot cord was wrapped around baby? Twice around her neck, and a few more times around the rest of her body.

Umbilical cords are pretty amazing sustainers of life, as you can see in this small collection of photographs I’ve taken.


This baby girl’s cord has beautiful spirals in a consistent pattern. The cord is still busy transferring blood to her.


This baby’s cord is starting to finish it’s job, it’s starting to go limp and losing it’s deep blue/purple color.

A common fear among soon-to-be mothers is “what if my baby is born with the cord around it’s neck?” It seems as though everyone has a mother or aunt with a frightening story about their baby being born wrapped in it’s cord and blue because of it. In the stories it’s always a very dire situation, like the cord caused a near brush with death. While a cord wrapped too many times around the neck or a short cord wrapped around the neck CAN pose a problem for descending during labor, being born with a nuchal cord (cord around the neck) is not usually an issue at all. In fact  studies indicate it can be a natural protection against cord prolapse, which IS a dangerous issue. (Cord prolapse is when the cord slips down beside or past the baby’s head during birth and is compressed – stopping the flow of blood and oxygen to the baby). Babies are naturally born a blueish/purple color because they do not breathe air in the womb. When they take their first gulp of air after birth, their skin begins to pink up quickly. When a baby is born in distress they are born gray or white. If a baby presents with a nuchal cord, a care provider usually helps the baby be born right through it.


This baby (Twin A!) is born right through her nuchal cord, you can see how the midwife helped her slip right through it.



Another baby being spiraled through the cord around their neck. (And notice the natural blueish/purple color of her skin – exactly the color she should be the moment she is born!)


Another baby born with the cord around the neck – this baby’s cord was a very tight nuchal cord, and the midwife almost had to clamp and cut it as the head was born, but she was able to spiral her through without cutting it.


Another baby with the cord around it’s neck at birth – you can see the cord is still full of blood and doing it’s job well, despite being around the neck.


Sometimes the cord is wrapped around the lower extremities as well.

Sometimes babies are born with true cord knots, which likely happens as a younger/smaller gestation baby swims through and tangles their cord. If the cord gets pulled too tightly in a knot, it can be a very serious issue and lead to fetal death. When sufficient amounts of Wharton’s Jelly is present inside the cord, it will prevent the cord from being pulled too tight, therefore keeping the baby safe. As any pregnant mama knows, the thought of an umbilical cord knot is quite terrifying! Here are two true umbilical cord knots, both which ended in healthy full term babies because the cords were long enough they did not present a problem as the baby moved down and the Wharton’s Jelly prevented the cord from being pulled & compressed too tightly.


What a lucky baby!


Another true cord knot – baby was just fine, but you can see this cord was probably cut too early, as it’s not totally limp and white. The blue arteries and veins still have blood in them.


This little girl was born with a beautiful tight spiral to her cord, which is almost done transferring blood. Grandma is feeling the cord pulse faintly.


This cord has no spiral to it, and is still pulsing faintly, as the mom has a chance to feel it.


This cord has a few loose spirals, and is starting to go white & limp.


A beautiful big cord that nourished this baby girl! Notice the color, indicating it is finishing up it’s job!



A nearly empty cord, still attached to the baby as the Mama gets out of the birth tub.


Empty cord, attached to it’s placenta


The placenta is birthed and floating in the bowl, with the cord still attached to baby. Once the placenta is birthed, the cord is completely done and ready to be cut.


Another white cord and beautiful placenta!

Melissa Cate Photography is Expanding!



Melissa Cate Photography was founded in 2010 with the dream of someday being a full time birth photography company. With an entry-level DSLR camera and a small bit of knowledge of photography, I dove into the world of photography. It quickly exceeded my expectations in growth and popularity.  Since shooting my first birth 5 years ago, I have shot 115 births, 30+ newborns, and countless baby bellies (With weddings, families, and children thrown in the mix as well). I’ve also had 2 more children of my own. I’ve loved this career of documenting births. It’s the main part of my business, and continues to be the central focus of Melissa Cate Photography. It’s time consuming yet rewarding.

For two years, I have been formulating an idea to add another photographer to the business. Adding another photographer means we can take on more births, and it also means I can take time off if I need it. And how much better are two photographers than one?! Of course, it’s not easy to find another birth photographer with the time to dedicate to being on call and the skills to put into learning birth photography. I feel so lucky to have found a second photographer to add to my expanding business. I started taking her to births with me in 2012, and she  filmed the birth of my third baby in October. (If you want a videographer for your birth, she’s your girl!). Nothing will change if you are a client of MCP – you will still receive the same style and edited photos as you always have. You will book one of us, and the photographer you book will be the one to document your birth. (In other words, we don’t take “call shifts”, we take clients and stick with them) I am proud to introduce Melissa Cate Photography’s second photographer, Krystle Bowen.



Krystle is very excited to join the Melissa Cate Photography Team. She is the Mom of three spunky boys, including a set of twins, and has been married to her best friend for 12 years. Outside of photography she is passionate about teenagers and enjoys volunteering at church and at the local teen Mom home. The first time she attended a birth, she was hooked. It is one of the most magical experiences a photographer can experience and she is honored to be a part of the birth photography team at Trillium Waterbirth Center.

Births of 2014

I know, I’m terrible at actually blogging. I try to add it to my to do list each week, but something always comes before it. I’ve been lost in my own blissful baby land for the past 5 months with my newest little guy, but, the time has come to hit the ground running again. MCP has some exciting new things coming up for 2015, due to be announced mid-Summer. We are growing and expanding, so we can serve the Rogue Valley better! With that little tidbit of info, I present, the births of 2014!


What IS Birth Photography?

I have a confession. I’m terrible at keeping up with my website. Between actually attending births, editing, and spending time with my own two lovely girls and husband, the website updating always seems to get pushed to the bottom of the list. I have been working on organizing photos from all 77 and counting births on a Pinterest site, all neatly organized. Some of the boards will include cord photos, placenta photos, water born, born by cesarean, and more! It will be such a great place to find exactly the type of birth photo you are looking for! I also keep up daily with my Facebook Fanpage, so you can check out all the latest updates and birth there!

A few weeks ago I put together this video on What Birth Photography is. It’s short, sweet, and to the point! When you tell someone about Birth Photography, do you get the raised eyebrow or the nervous laughter of , “what do you take pictures of???” This video helps people understand what it is REALLY about (and it’s not all crowning and blood, like the media and movies make it out to be!)

I promise I’m trying to make time to keep my website more updated. I’m only about 58 births behind…

The Homebirth of Twins – Oregon Birth Photographer


I was so excited for this birth, because after 67 births, these would be my first set of twins! These girls were going to be babies #5 and #6 for this sweet family, and I have always adored big families. At 36 weeks I was prepared and ready for the call that mama was in labor. At 37 weeks I was more ready. At 38 weeks I expected it at any moment. At 39 weeks I was in a bit of disbelief. This mama must be the superstar of all mamas, for she was 39 weeks pregnant with twins! At 39 weeks and 3 days, the call came in at 5:45pm that it was TIME, and hurry! I rushed out the door, I sped, and arrived at 6:05, just 11 minutes before Baby A slipped into the water and was lifted into mama’s arms. ELEVEN minutes! That was such a close call, I shudder to think about if traffic had been bad. I had read up on the natural birth of twins, and I knew Baby B could come hours later, depending on position. But as Baby A was snuggled in her mama’s arms, Baby B decided she did not want to wait, and four minutes after her big sister, she appeared. I think mama may have sneezed and she appeared! Baby B came so easily, I am not sure if mama really had to push! After a two hour labor from start to finish, mama had both babies in her arms, with no complications what so ever. In fact, I think it is in the running for one of the easiest, least complicated births I have ever seen! It was beautiful, and it was an honor to photograph! Enjoy the photos of this lovely family welcoming two new babies!



May 13, 2013 - 11:50 pm

Dawn Williams - Wow!! You are an amazing photographer!! All of your photos are simply amazing!

May 19, 2013 - 8:33 pm

Gina - Truly Pure Birth - Thank you for sharing! What a beautiful birth and amazing pics :)

November 12, 2014 - 2:40 am

Mamá Arcoiris - Beautiful pictures!!!

November 13, 2014 - 8:49 am

Aureilee - Simply beautiful! Blessing and thank you for sharing.

March 18, 2015 - 4:07 am

keri bryant - these are CRAZY beautiful, Melissa!!