Is this the new, fashionable way for expectant moms to capture their pregnancies? We talk to a US photographer who shoots these #mermaidmoments.
Many a pregnant woman has had her swollen belly documented in still images and many a photographer has styled these kinds of shoots rather creatively.
The new thing, however, seems to be underwater pregnancy photo shoots, as Alanis Morissette recently demonstrated.
An American photographer has created beautiful images of expectant moms in an aquatic setting. Adam Opris grew up in South Florida and spent many hours in the ocean. When shooting, he tells his "models" to channel their inner mermaids when posing for photographs.
Opris told Parent24 that he had a wedding photography business and always loved how brides he captured came back to him for their maternity pictures after they fell pregnant.
"I'm always looking to push the envelope with my photography and when I saw underwater photos from around the world, I realised that I could bring clients into this underwater world.
"After a few test shoots I realised the options underwater are unlimited. I received my first inquiry from a mom-to-be and decided to go for it."
Opris recommends that his clients do the shoot when they are between 6 and 8.5 months pregnant.
The nature of the shoots aren't very technical. Opris says he usually works alone while shooting because he'd like to ensure his clients are comfortable in the environment. "If there are too many people in the water, it could create a feeling of anxiety in some of my clients," he continues.
He likes to keep settings as natural as possible, by using natural lighting from the sun whenever he can. He also makes use of some creative underwater lighting.
Is underwater photography safe?
While Opris' images are intriguing, beautiful and extremely creative, one wonders if there is any danger or risk involved.
Grant Whaits, a registered biokineticist from Cape Town, says there aren't many hectic risks for pregnancy photo shoots in a pool, but there are a few things to consider.
"An expectant mom shouldn't have to hold awkward positions, where she would have to use her abdominal muscles intensely for extended periods of time," he says. "Pool water shouldn't be chlorine either, as there has been a lot of speculation around a chemical by-product of chlorine which may be harmful to pregnant women. It hasn't been proven, but it's a general no-no among some.
The intensity of what a pregnant woman has to do in the water shouldn't be too high either, he continues. "If she is unable to pass the 'talk test', it means she is losing her breath.
But the biggest risk, he says, is needing to hold a long breath. "Generally a pregnant woman is discouraged from holding her breath. It's especially dangerous when it gets to the point of being dizzy and light-headed. If she is going to hold a pose under water, I would recommend that she only stays under for the amount of time it takes to slowly exhale a basic lung-full of air," he stresses.
Opris says he never asks his clients to push the limits of how long they are able to stay under water and only asks that they're there for a few seconds at a time.
"Communication is very important and safety is a priority. I don't want my clients to get tired or have shortness of breath at all.
"This experience is meant to be fun and relaxing. In the beginning, I did some research on pregnant women being in water and discovered it is a great way to relieve stress on their joints and their backs.
"Because safety is my number one priority, I don't do the shoots in the ocean either. We have a lot more control in a swimming pool," says Opris.
Celebrities diving in
Many celebrities also document their pregnancy bellies, but few have gone the aquatic route.
Singer Alanis Morissette posted a beautifully passive image on Instagram along with an adorable quote from her first-born.
Professional surfer and role model Bethany Hamilton, who is no stranger to water, often posted pictures of herself pregnant and underwater on her Instagram profile too. She referred to it as "taking her little one for a swim". Hamilton survived a shark attack while surfing years ago, and lost her left arm.
Being active in water throughout one's pregnancy is a great form of exercise. Whaits says the pros of water outweigh the cons when it comes to pregnancy and exercise in water.
"I always tell pregnant women that if they were runners, cyclists or swimmers before they fell pregnant, they should definitely continue with their adapted activity long into their pregnancy, or up until they either feel uncomfortable doing the activity or a health professional recommends they stop.
But he warns: "I would not recommend embarking on any bouncy or impact-type activity in any environment to any pregnant woman who has not had a recent history with the sport or activity."
What do you think of these underwater pregnancy photos? Would you get your hair wet or do you prefer the more traditional dry-land pregnancy shoots? Share your thoughts and photos by emailing email@example.com.
Photos published with kind permission from Adam Opris.