Frequently Asked Questions
Our guideline for dispatching a volunteer photographer for a Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep session is that the baby be at least 22 weeks gestation. This is a baseline from which medical professionals may deviate based upon their experience. It is possible that babies younger or older than 22 weeks would be either advisable or inadvisable.
If you need to request our services for a family go to Find a Photographer. The more notice we have about a family’s possible need, the greater the chance a NILMDTS Affiliated Photographer will be available to provide services. Please see if a photographer is available BEFORE you offer the services to the family. We often receive calls directly from families. However, they are enduring the worst moment of their life and it is often best if a hospital employee facilitate the call on behalf of the family. As this is a volunteer service, we can never guarantee the availability of a photographer.
Please call between the hours of 7:00 am and 10:00 pm. If there is a Local Area Dispatch Line or Area Coordinator, please only call that number unless you have not heard back within two (2) hours during 7:00am and 10:00pm.
For most cases, expect that it could take at minimum 2 hours before a photographer is able to be at the hospital and upwards to 10-12 hours. Advance notice, when possible, is greatly appreciated. Find out more on What to Expect.
If a baby is on life support, a NILMDTS photographer will be available to capture photographs before the baby is removed from life support or after. Please ask the family to do what they are most comfortable with, however, we encourage them to wait until life support is removed. This way we can capture photographs of the baby without the tubes and wires.
NILMDTS mission involves photographing babies who will never have the opportunity to have professional photography. Therefore, we provide remembrance photography to those babies who were stillborn, have died in the early days after birth, have never left the hospital, or who are sent home on hospice.
Although our goal is for all families in need of NILMDTS are served with a photographic session, as an all-volunteer organization, we unfortunately cannot guarantee that a photographer will be available to help every family. Occasionally one of our volunteer photographers may not be available to take photographs. If a photographer is unavailable we can still provide image retouching services.
This service is completely free of charge to the families and is donated by the volunteer photographer. Each family will receive a digital set of images with a license for usage, which allows them to have the photographs printed by a photo lab at their own cost. Normal turnaround time for the patients to receive their images is 6-8 weeks. At the family request, most photographers are able to e-mail an image to the family within a few days time for a memorial service or funeral.
Please remember that NILMDTS is a nonprofit volunteer organization. NILMDTS and our volunteer representatives are not an affiliate, contractor, vendor, or a volunteer of or for your institution. NILMDTS is there at the request of and as a guest of the family. NILMDTS volunteer photographers conduct the photography services in a professional, humble and respectful manner, being sensitive to the bereaved parent and hospital staff. Services are conducted with as little disruption to Labor and Delivery and NICU as possible. If NILMDTS affiliated photographers feel they must address something with the hospital staff they are encouraged to make an appointment. If you have a concern with our services, please email us here.
The purpose of a NILMDTS photographer is to create monochromatic heirloom images of an intimate portrait session. Our photographer will only be there for 30-45 minutes, so families have more time alone with their baby. We encourage families and hospital staff to also take pictures with your own camera or phone of the other moments spent with your baby while the photographer is not there. You can never have too many.
Donations are accepted though our website or by mail. Also, we certainly appreciate your delicate attempt to educate families that this is a volunteer service and the professional photographers perform above and beyond their normal workload. We can provide a high resolution image to families of our logo should they want to mention in a funeral program – for instance – that “in lieu of flowers, please send donations in memory of our child to Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.”
No, we are not doing business with the hospital nor charging for our services. We are simply providing a free service to the patient as a guest of the family. We do not and will not sign vendor contracts. We will, however, recommend to our volunteers that if a hospital requires our volunteers to complete a hospital orientation, that they do so but not as a volunteer of the hospital. Rather, this training is often beneficial for safety and procedural matters and we certainly respect that request!
Yes. We carry General Liability, Directors & Officers, and Worker’s Compensation policies. Each photographer active in the program must sign a “Volunteer Services Agreement” which outlines expectations for their duties, code of conduct, and policies they must adhere to as a representative of NILMDTS.
Yes. Our photographers are not allowed to provide services unless the family has signed an NILMDTS Parent Consent Form. Each photographer brings these along to the session, and after greeting the family and offering condolences, this is the first step before portraits are taken. The form not only releases NILMDTS of any liability issues, it also provides family a clear explanation of the gift they will receive, and the family’s contact information so that the volunteer may have a mailing address and email to send the final set of digital images to the parents once the images have been retouched and completed processing. The Parent Consent form is available in our Forms & Documents.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that each hospital have a one-sheet consent form with HIPAA related language that the patient should sign acknowledging that in an effort for the hospital to assist in the process of locating a volunteer photographer, some personal information about the mother/baby will be divulged to NILMDTS. The Hospital Authorization for Release of Information form is available in our Forms & Documents.
We are not subject to HIPAA privacy laws because we are invited into the hospital as a guest of the family. This has been verified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights, which oversees HIPAA law. NILMDTS has corresponded with the General Counsel’s office HIPAA lawyers to verify our services and HIPAA laws. We do ask all of our photographers to keep all sessions private and to not discuss details with anyone.
I am a NICU nurse, and I am so very grateful for all that you photographers do. I’m so grateful for your willingness to always come, the many times that I’ve called you. I’m grateful for you kind and gentle souls who treat my families and babies with such love and compassion. And I’m especially grateful for this little piece of heaven that you allow my families to keep of their precious angels!
MANDY | NICU Nurse
I have been a nurse for 33 years and for the last 10 years I have worked with medically fragile children in a home-like environment. These children have all touched my heart deeply. This organization brought to the parents and nurses of our little angel’s a true sense of beauty and love, that parents will cherish forever. Thank You! You cannot possibly know what a blessing you have brought to us all.
I am the facilitator of a grief support group that supports people who have lost a child to death. I want to thank you for the service you offer to those with critically ill children. You cannot imagine the gift you give to them. God bless your ministry to these families! When I lost my newborn daughter 21 years ago, no one thought about pictures, allowing the parents to hold their children, or anything! I am so grateful that times have changed and there are people like you who are so sensitive and caring for the needs of heart broken families. Thank you again for your precious gift.
The staff of Labor and Delivery at United Hospital in St.Paul and myself would like to extend our heartfelt thanks for the wonderful care and photograghy you provided to our patients here. The staff is so touched by their interaction with you and the great work you do. I wanted to let you know the impact you have made on us here. I am sure that the families are very grateful for the pictures you take and the memories you have provided. Thank you again and keep up the great work.
As a labor and birth doula, I have the privilege of accompanying women and their families through the miraculous journey of pregnancy and birth. I have had the honor of walking with families in joy and in grief. Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep offers a vital service to our community. I know from my professional experience just how important this service is. I am a mother, a wife, a doula and a supporter of this important organization.
I simply need to let you know what an INCREDIBLE job our local Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographer is doing in support of our perinatal bereavement program. We began our affiliation about 6 months ago. On behalf of our program staff and the families we serve, please share with others about the NILMDTS organization and what a tremendous assest professional remembrance photographers across the country are to bereaved families.
Thank you so much for caring for our families in such a very touching and consistent basis. We appreciate it!