Midwife empowers Indigenous women through outback maternity photoshoots
Andrea Mitchell said the photoshoots were also a way to educate the women on healthy habits during pregnancy. (Supplied: Andrea Mitchell )
A north-west Queensland midwife offering free maternity photoshoots for Indigenous women says the experience is a great confidence booster for the soon-to-be mums and a rare opportunity to be pampered.
Mount Isa-based outreach midwife, Andrea Mitchell, frequently travels to Doomadgee and Mornington Island in the Gulf Country to provide antenatal care.
She said the photoshoots were a unique way of combining awareness around healthcare as well as helping the women feel strong and beautiful throughout their pregnancy
Ms Mitchell said she started her career taking photos of newborn babies on her iPad but also wanted to find a way to help new mums.
Andrea Mitchell started doing photoshoots with expectant mothers to help keep them engaged with medical services. (ABC News: Kelly Butterworth)
Many of the women have never had their hair professionally cut or styled. (Supplied: Andrea Mitchell)
“I thought, ‘how can I increase my post-natal stats to benefit the women through the healthcare that we provide?’,” she said.
She said the photoshoots were also an opportunity to talk about mother and baby health and avoiding bad habits like smoking.
“I’ve actually thought about maybe trying to do some videos on these girls that don’t smoke to encourage others not to smoke,” she said.
Ms Mitchell offers the mums a photoshoot while she is in the remote communities and the shoots are normally done around 32 weeks gestation when the mums attend Mount Isa for their scans.
She said some of the mums had never been to a hairdresser before and the photoshoots allowed them to have their hair professionally done.
“One of my first photoshoots … she’d never been to a hairdresser before and when she walked out, I couldn’t get over how long her hair was, it was beautiful, it was right down to her bottom nearly, and she just had these flowing curls,” she said.
Photographer Andrea Mitchell says the photoshoots are a lot of fun. (ABC News: Kelly Butterworth)
“The women are so beautiful they don’t really even need makeup, but we just put a bit of bronzer on to accentuate and put a bit of mascara on to bring out those lashes.
“It’s funny because sometimes you go to put the mascara on and they’re not used to it and it feels really heavy so they’re blinking all the time, they’re so cute.
Doomadgee woman Terrizita Ned said the photoshoots were a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. (Supplied: Andrea Mitchell)
“I tell the girls that I’ve got to pay $120 to get mine put on [lashes] and they can’t believe that.”
Ms Mitchell said she covered all the expenses of the photoshoots and had arrangements with hairdressers in Mount Isa, who styled the women’s hair for a discounted fee, helping to reduce the costs.
After all medical and beauty appointments are complete, Ms Mitchell, along with midwife Sophie Walker and the expectant mum head out to the photoshoot location with gowns and accessories.
Ms Walker assists with wardrobe decisions and lighting.
“She [Andrea] has an entire wardrobe of maternity shoot dresses, it’s pretty insane,” Ms Walker said.
“We get to go through and pick different colours and shapes and things to suite the woman because everyone’s a different shape when they’re pregnant.
“I hold the reflector, which doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re being told to move it slightly to the left, slightly to the right, it can get difficult.”
Ms Mitchell said the mums were given copies of the photos during their clinic visits. (Supplied: Andrea Mitchell)
Doomadgee mother-to-be Terrizita Ned had her photoshoot at a popular spot known as the Granites, about 20 kilometres south of Mount Isa, which boasts rocky landscape and spectacular sunsets.
She said the photoshoot was a great experience.
“Just loving it, doing it out here,” Ms Ned said.
“Probably only once in our lifetime you’ll get out and get to do this.”
Ms Mitchell said she tried to capture the women’s natural beauty.
“Once they really let loose, they pose like from TV, they put their hand up or they strut their stuff so by the end of the shoot they’re just so relaxed and that’s when you put your camera on constant shutter, so you can get 100 pictures,” she said.
Ms Mitchell said she goes through the photos with the women at their next clinic appointment and gives them a USB containing some of the photos and some enlarged prints.
Midwife and photographer Andrea Mitchell chooses scenic outback locations for the photoshoots. (Supplied: Andrea Mitchell)