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20 Astounding Photos That Show the Beauty of Childbirth
PHOTO BY Daniela Justus of Daniela Justus Fotografia
  • (Warning: some of the photos have graphic content that some readers may find shocking.)  

    We love birth photography. It shows us the beginning of a woman's journey to motherhood, yes, but we also get the privilege to see a mother's strength, and it always shines through whatever type of childbirth it is.  

    This year, the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers (IAPBP) has announced the winners of its annual Birth Photography Image of the Year Competition. Each image has its own story to tell, but all of them are equally amazing and breathtaking.  

    The judges of this year's IAPBP competition must have had a very difficult job because there were just a lot of astounding images. The winners were chosen on a point system based on technicality, emotionality, and composition.

    Year after year, however, birth photographers seem to manage to outdo themselves. For the first time in the competition's history (it began in 2011), a photographer has won the top award for the second time. 

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    The winner is Marijke Thoen of Marijke Theon Geboortefotografie who won in 2016 for the beautiful water birth image (above). Her 2018 entry, which has taken the grand prize, has a nice surprise. According to IAPBP founder Lyndsay Stradner in a statement, "The beautiful baby in that photo is now a big sister in the winning photo this year." 

    Yes, the little girl watching her baby brother (above) had her birth immortalized, so to speak, and now her sibling gets the honor as well.

    The winning photo entitled "Stunning Siblings First Encounter" was also awarded the First Place Winner and the winner of the Members Choice Best in Delivery category. The same photo, which Thoen described in her post as "a photo social media liked but everybody else loved" was once controversial. Facebook took it down and Instagram removed it from her account three times. 

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    Here are the other winners of this year's IAPBP Birth Photography Image of The Year competition: (Warning: some of the photos have graphic content that some readers may find shocking.)  


    Best in Category: Labor: "Nowhere and Everywhere" by Rebecca Coursey of Rebecca Coursey, Photographer + Doula (It's also the winner of the Member's Choice Best in Labor category)


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    Best in Category: Delivery: "En Caul Baby Birth" by Daniela Justus of Daniela Justus Fotografia (A baby born with caul intact is rare — fewer than one in 80,000 births.)


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    Best in Category: Postpartum: "Flesh of My Flesh" by Esther Edith of Esther Edith Photographer & Doula
     


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    Best in Category: Birth Details: "Birth of A Brother" by Daniela Justus of Daniela Justus Fotografia


    Members Choice Awards Winner: "Three Becomes Four" by Esther Edith of Esther Edith Photographer & Doula


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    Members Choice Awards Best in Postpartum: "Take My Hand, Hold My Heart" by Tamara Milldove of Milldove Photography – Maternity, Birth and Newborn


    Members Choice Awards Best in Birth Details: "Bulging Forewaters" by Cat Fancote of Capturing Birth (This is probably a part of birth we haven't seen in close up before.)

    These photos didn't make the winners' cut but are too beautiful not to recognize. Here are the honorable mentions of this year's IAPBP photography contest:

    Thoen said in an interview with Yahoo Style U.K. that birth photography around the world has contributed to the change in how women view birth. "And that is what this is all about: showing women how amazingly powerful they (and their bodies) are during the process of labor and birthing and inspiring mothers-to-be to feel empowered instead of scared to deliver their babies," she said. 

    All photos were used with permission from the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers (IAPBP). 

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