Birth photos are so powerful and it's incredible to see the strength and fierce nature of all moms who are working to bring their babies earth side. Being able to capture the power and emotion on a single photo during one of the most intense moments in life is a real skill. And being able to see images of positive births -- whether that be a c-section, home birth, water birth, in the hospital or anything in between -- it's such an honor. Birth Becomes Her aims to "make the growing industry of birth photography more accessible to both aspiring photographers and expecting parents" and through them, we get to see some of the most amazing, incredible, and beautiful birth photos.
Founded by Jennifer Mason and Monet Nicole in 2013, Birth Becomes Her holds an annual contest for birth and maternity photographers to showcase the most striking and powerful images from that year. This year's winners are breathtaking and these photographers -- and the mamas who are featured in their work -- are absolute power. The contest judges birth photography in five categories: birth, breastfeeding, fresh/postpartum, labor, and maternity. They also pick an overall winner from all categories. Each of these images is incredibly moving and beautiful, and showcase the awesome power of women.
Big thanks to Birth Becomes Her for allowing us to share these incredible images. For more information on the contest and to see all entries, visit BirthBecomesHerContest.com. Click through to see the winners and runners up of the Birth Becomes Her contest.
Credit: Marijke Thoen of Marijke Thoen Geboortefotografie
This image was done by Marijke Thoen of Marijke Thoen Geboortefotografie from Serving Lochristi, Belgium and it's titled “Stunning Siblings First Encounter". And seriously, stunning it is. There is so much to look at in this one-of-a-kind photo that it nearly takes our breath away. The helping hands guiding the baby into the world, both mama's and the helper's hands. The adorable face the new babe is making, and all their hair. The curious look the new big sibling is making, watching her new best friend enter the world. And the mom's partner lovingly holding their oldest child. This photo is pure perfection.
Credit: Jen Conway of Jen Conway Photography
“This is what a Goddess Looks Like” is the title of this photo by Jen Conway. And she is totally right. This pregnant mama is pure perfection cradling her round baby bump and the amazing scenery around her. This image really helps ground that idea that pregnancy and labor are tied with nature and that our bodies are designed to do this -- just like any other mammal on the planet. We often get side-tracked and too focused on the medical side of it. But this is such a gorgeous surrounding it's easy to feel calm looking at this amazing photo.
Credit: Rebecca Coursey-Rugh of Rebecca Coursey Photography
"Nowhere and Everywhere” is what Rebecca Coursey-Rugh titled this piece and it's the perfect title, though it might not make sense to everyone. During labor, it's hard to explain, but you are in this different world. You are both very present in the pain and happenings of the intense labor. At the same time, being taken to a primal sort of place where you can almost see yourself from above. It's like nothing else and probably the only reason people go and do it again. This image is beautiful -- the laboring person's partner lovingly stroking their hair, while a firm grip from another grounds and supports the mama.
Credit: Selena Rollason of Brisbane Birth Photography
“Half Born and Already Reaching for Mama” was captured by Selena Rollason of Brisbane Birth Photography. Selena is a mother, a photographer, educator, and doula, so it makes complete sense that she would be able to take a moment as breathtaking as this one. The way the light plays in this photograph is exquisite - it almost looks like the baby is releasing a flood of light as they enter the world. The role of a good birth photographer is capture the moments that mom and dad might miss, and Selena absolutely came through with this picture. The wee little baby reaching up for mama is so lovely.
Credit: Veronika Richardson of Fox Valley Birth and Baby
“This is VBAC” by Veronika Richardson of Fox Valley Birth and Baby is a beautiful homage to the powerful spirit and resilience of women. More and more women are refusing to let a c-section stand in their way of having the birth that they want, and VBACs are becoming more and more common. However a baby arrives, as long as mama and baby are healthy, that's all that matters. But having the birth you've always wanted is important for so many women, and we love that they're able to move through both experiences with the help of dedicated doctors, nurses, and support systems. That scar speaks volumes, and shows just how far this mama has come.
Credit: Melissa Benzel of Benzel Photography
“Staying Afloat”, taken by Melissa Benzel of Benzel Photography, snagged the People's Choice Award as well as second place in the maternity category. And we can see why! There's something so ethereal and peaceful about maternity photos in water. The weightlessness, the serenity, the symbolism. It's wild to think about the baby floating in the belly while mama floats in the water. Plus the way the fabric plays around the woman is just gorgeous. It's hard to feel weightless when you're that pregnant, but water maternity photography always turns the woman into a literal floating angel. Truly a stunning picture and mama.
Credit: Esther Edith of Esther Edith Photography
“Three Souls Labor As One” was taken by Esther Edith of Esther Edith Photography and also snagged one of the People's Choice Winner awards. It's a common misconception that labor is a frantic, loud, fast-paced experience. It definitely can be during parts, yes. But during labor, there are so many quiet moments like this one, and these are often the most beautiful parts of labor. When mama slows down to catch her breath and her partner and support person calmly whispers to her and holds her while she regains her strength. Photos like these say a lot about a woman during labor, there's no doubt about that. But they also speak volumes about how important it is to surround yourself with the right people during your childbirth journey.
Credit: Caroline Devulder
“Transition to Earth” by Caroline Devulder of Caromama Fotograaf & Doula is one of those pictures that just takes your breath away. The transition a baby goes through while they make their entrance into the world cannot be adequately described with words. It's hard enough to honestly capture what we go through as mothers bringing our babies into the world, but for the child, it's an entirely different experience. This picture captures it all, and the use of black and white is almost haunting. It takes a special kind of photographer to be able to document a birth, and know exactly which pictures need to be taken, as we've seen from these incredibly talented people.
Credit: Deborah Elenter of NEO Photography
“Success” was beautifully captured by Deborah Elenter of NEO Photography and was picked as a People's Choice Award winner. Anyone who's sat with their brand new baby, trying to get them latched onto their breast, wondering how in the world that little mouth is going to figure this out - you can definitely relate to this photograph. This is another one of those quiet moments after the excitement has died down, a chance to mama and baby to bond and get to know one another. It's amazing to see, and no matter how many times we see pictures like this, we will never stop marveling at how tiny newborns are, and how instinctual this whole process is.
Credit: Gabriella Hunt of Gabriella Hunt Photography
“A Hush Fell Over The Crowd”, taken by Gabriella Hunt of Gabriella Hunt Photography, is probably one of our favorite of all the winners in the contest. It nabbed the People's Choice Award in the breastfeeding category, and it's not hard to see why. Mothers are complex beings. We are strong, we are soft, we can move mountains and also settle underneath them for a spell. This picture of a swimmer nursing her child is motherhood in a single image. We are teachers and doctors and lawyers and swimmers, but we are mothers. And when duty calls, mothers show up and perform.
Credit: Ashley Marston of Ashley Marston Photograph
“Labor by Candlelight” is a stunning snapshot of the long, complex process that is labor and delivery. Ashley Martson of Ashley Marston Photography took 2nd place in the labor category for her unique and beautiful take on a mother laboring. The thing we love about this image is how it really proves how small each individual moment during labor can be. It's a series of small moments, some intimate, some profound. And taken together, they create a life-altering process. This picture also frames mama and her partner in a way that is truly remarkable. They are the only two people in the room, they are the captains of this ship, and everything else is periphery.
Credit: Neely Ker-Fox of Ker-Fox Photography
“Fist Bump for Mom” from Neely Ker-Fox of Ker-Fox Photography took 2nd place in the birth category. It's one of the only photographs to showcase a c-section. We said this earlier, but it bears repeating: it doesn't matter how the baby gets here, as long as you both make it through happily and healthily. Some mamas don't plan on having a c-section, while others schedule theirs. The takeaway here is that your c-section can be just as powerful, just as memorable, and just as beautiful as a vaginal labor and delivery. Gentle c-sections are becoming more and more popular. The use of a clear shield like we see here allow mom and partner to witness the arrival of their little one. And give that little one a clear view of their new favorite people.
“Tranquility” is the perfect name for this image captured by Veronika Richardson of Fox Valley Birth and Baby. This is actually Richardson's second winning entry in the contest! As much as we love birth photos that document labor and delivery, we have a special place in our hearts for the quite after photos. The ones of just mama and her new little one. Nursing or cuddling or just staring at each other. This picture really does exude tranquility - there's not even a ripple in the water! It's the hush following a storm, when things settle and you're able to fully grasp what has just happened.
Credit: Lacey Barratt from Lacey Barratt Photography
“Rebirth” by Lacey Barratt from Lacey Barratt Photography took 2nd place in the fresh/postpartum category. We give a lot of attention to pregnancy and childbirth, but the fourth trimester is so important. Not just for babies, but for mothers. It's a period of healing and adaptation, of acceptance and self-love. It's getting used to this new body and this new little person, while juggling myriad emotions and thoughts. Postpartum is a struggle - mentally, physically, and emotionally. But we wholeheartedly believe that there is no period of a mother's journey where she is stronger and more beautiful than after having a baby.
Credit: Vanessa Mendez of Vanessa Mendez Photography
“A Mother’s Love” from Vanessa Mendez of Vanessa Mendez Photography is one of those pictures that makes us says, "AWWWWWW!". Holding your big kiddo while preparing to bring another into the world. Is there anything that captures motherhood better than a picture like this? When you have your first child, it's all new. But when you have other children, each one is new in a different way. It's wondering how you'll manage this all. Worrying about how a new baby will affect your life with your current family. It's waiting to introduce your kids to their new sibling, while worrying that you won't be able to love them all equally. Your heart grows, mamas. It grows in size with each little one.
Credit: Laura Wando of Laura Cate Photography
“Before the Cut” from Laura Wando of Laura Cate Photography snagged 3rd place in the labor category. It's another c-section photo, but this one is full of anticipation. Being prepped for surgery is methodical and sterile and you can easily feel detached from the entire process. But mothers ARE the process. It's hard to articulate your jumbled thoughts and emotions during the frenetic moments of a vaginal labor and delivery. But there's something to serene and powerful about bearing witness to a woman preparing to bring her child into the world via c-section. We imagine this mama was scared, but we can sense the power in this single photograph.