A Complete Guide on Maternity Photos: When to Take Maternity Photos

First of all, congrats! You are here because you just found out that you are pregnant or you are preparing to welcome a baby in a few weeks and are desperately hoping you haven’t missed the perfect timing for maternity photos. Or maybe you have questions like, “should I take maternity photos?”, “will I regret not taking maternity photos?” Read on to learn everything you need to know about maternity photos including when to take maternity photos.

Beautiful mom to be holding her pregnant belly during time of maternity photos showing when to take maternity photos.

Should I take maternity photos?

As a photographer, I will always tell you to take the photos. I will always tell you to book the shoot. You never know the weight of the moment that you are capturing. I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks, and the only photos I have with my baby (other than ultrasound photos), are pictures taken at 5 weeks while my family was at the beach. My sisters captured me with my husband’s arms wrapped around my waist and hands on my belly, and I thought it was silly that we were documenting the very beginnings of a bump that was yet to show to the outside world. Looking back on those photos now, they are anything but silly. They are the only photos that I have of me, my husband, and Ellie. And knowing that Ellie will always be in our beach family photos is invaluable.

I don’t tell you that to put a damper on your exciting time or for you to make a decision out of fear. I simply want to reassure you that you will never regret memorializing certain moments in your life through photographs. There is something special about capturing the last moments before your life changed forever for the better. The last moments before you held your baby. The last moments of just the two of you. The last moments before you fully stepped into your new role of motherhood. Or the last moments before your family was complete. You will love sharing these photos with your child and your child will love being told that they were in mommy’s tummy when looking at these maternity photographs. 

When to take maternity photos during pregnancy showing an ultrasound photo.

When to take maternity photos

So when should I take maternity photos? Most photographers recommend taking your maternity session between 28 and 32 weeks of pregnancy. During this time, most moms have a significant bump, but are still feeling themselves and have the energy and stamina to take photos. If you wait longer than 32 weeks, you may risk feeling less than optimal for a photo shoot. During the last stages of pregnancy, water retention rates may increase in the hands, feet, and even face (read this article to learn more about what to expect during your last stages of pregnancy). Many women who choose not to take maternity photos do so because they do not like what they see in the mirror with their changing during pregnancy. Planning your maternity session for the optimal time during pregnancy will allow you to feel confident during your maternity photos and will allow a much-needed moment of pause to pamper and celebrate yourself during this time.

Expectant mom standing in kitchen showing when to take maternity photos.

Do I have to take maternity photos between 28 and 32 weeks?

No, you do not have to take your maternity photos between 28 and 32 weeks. Maternity photos can be taken at any time during your pregnancy when your pregnancy bump is showing. Most moms start noticing a small bump at around 16 weeks and may choose to take their maternity photoshoot at various points during their pregnancy. 

I have taken maternity photos of clients as early as 20 weeks. You may decide to schedule your maternity session before 28 weeks if you are wanting to show your bare bump, if you are pregnant with multiples, or if this is not your first pregnancy. I have also taken maternity photos of clients as late as 37 weeks. You may decide to take your maternity photos later in your pregnancy, because your bump is delayed in “popping out”. I’ve also taken maternity photos of many clients after 32 weeks, because they did not decide on booking the session until later in their pregnancy. These photos turned out just as beautiful, but I will say that it takes a load off of you if you have the chance to decide when your photos will be taken during your pregnancy instead of reactively searching for an available photographer last minute (no judgment if that happens to be you, just trying to relieve some stress during your pregnancy 🙂 ). Talk with your photographer to determine the best timing for your maternity session, but book your session ASAP. Many maternity photographers book out 6+ months in advance.

Expectant couple showing lifestyle photos of when to take maternity photos.

What should I expect during my maternity photoshoot?

You should expect to have fun and feel like the absolute beauty that you are and you should expect to get the maternity photos you have always dreamed of. I talk to my clients to determine if they have a vision for the maternity session and work to deliver on that vision. Maternity photoshoots are the most varied sessions that I photograph, and are usually sessions where clients come to me with a specific vision. Some clients want a cozy in-home session including their partner to remember the last moments as a family of two. Some clients want a mix of photos with their partner and of individual photos. Some clients want a family session, but they happen to be pregnant so the session includes maternity portraits as well. Some clients only want individual photos. Some clients want individual photographs against a backdrop and photographs of them and their partner outdoors. Some clients want an elaborate maternity gown and others prefer a simple everyday outfit.

I work with my clients to provide an experience like no other during their maternity session. Don’t worry if you don’t have a vision, or if that vision only includes simple, authentic portraits documenting this time. I will put my energy into making your maternity photographs memorable.

Mom holding pregnant belly showing when to take maternity photos.

So you’re telling me I can do whatever I want?

Lol. Yep. This is your life. There are no rules, but here are my final recommendations and thoughts:

I recommend taking your maternity portraits between 28 and 32 weeks, but talk with your photographer to determine the best timing for your specific maternity session.

Book your maternity session today! Maternity photographers can book out 6+ months in advance.

Please reach out about your maternity session today! I would love to capture these sweet moments. Also, as you plan for newborn photos, check out my blog on when to take newborn photos, and my blog on maternity hospitals in Birmingham.

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