Warning: Photos have graphic content that some readers may find disturbing or shocking.
There was a time before when the father of the baby wasn't even allowed to be in the room during childbirth. Now it has become a family affair where a mom's support system (including kids!) can witness the beauty of a newborn's arrival the moment it happens. And thanks to birth photographers, parents now get to document and preserve every moment of bringing a life into this world.
Jennifer Mason and Monet Nicole, the founders of Birth Becomes Her, an online resource that hopes to inspire birth photography professionals and expectant parents, believe there is power in seeing and sharing images of birth. “There is nothing more valuable than preserving memories from the very best days of your life,” they said on their website.
The website once again hosted a birth photography contest this year. The "2019 Birth Becomes Her Image Contest" had over 1,200 image submissions from birth photographers around the world (nearly 300 more than last year’s entries). The judges, composed of pioneers in the birth and photography communities, selected winners in the following categories: hospital and out of hospital births; in color and black and white images; and postpartum, which includes the first 48 hours after birth and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) sessions.
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Overall winners of the Birth Becomes Her Image Contest
Sadie, who joined the contest for the first time, wrote the following when she shared this image on Instagram: "What I love about this image is the how it captures those mixtures of emotions you experience right after you have just given birth...major relief, wonder, shock, amazement, exhaustion, happiness, love, overwhelm...Everything that races through your mind when you realize you have done it, you've made it."
Belle, who also won the People's Choice award, documented the birth of a rainbow baby. "It makes me so freaking proud to call myself a birth photographer and to stand amongst the best in the world," she wrote on Instagram. "Seriously I don’t know how the judges chose. What an incredible industry we are in."
Another photo of Belle earned the top prize at another birth photography contest, which you see here.
"Thank you first and foremost to the beautiful family who trusted me enough to invite me into their birth space to capture such a magical and sacred moment," Toni wrote on Instagram. "You are forever ingrained in my heart," she added.
It's rare to see a breech vaginal birth in the hospital, but photographer behind Life and Lens Photography got it on film. "I am always so grateful to my families for welcoming me into their birth spaces, but for them to give me permission to share their most vulnerable and powerful moments – I can’t ever fully express my gratitude," she wrote on Instagram.
Linnéa Geiger, the photographer who took the photo, wrote on Instagram. "I had the honor of attending another home birth. It was pure magic, and I am filled of love from it. Congratulations sweet baby, you were welcomed to this earth with so much love and passion."
Jenny and Monet's caption on Instagram: "A moment of relaxation flooded over her body just minutes before she joyfully brought her baby into the world. I love their embrace. The love. The safety. Gosh, birth is incredible."
Cat captured the moment a new mom sees her baby for the first time. "Taking the time to observe, touch and smell the tiny human you just birthed can be so emotionally, spiritually and physically rewarding," the photographer wrote on Instagram. "You could stare at her for hours, and you do – it’s time well spent."