Giving birth is miraculous and messy; agony and ecstasy. In these powerful birth photos, photographers from around the world captured some of the most intimate and raw moments of birth for the 2021 Birth Photography Image Competition.

The following series of photos are from this year’s winners. The contest, which is open to birth photographers globally, was initially founded by award-winning birth photographer Lacey Baratt as a way to legitimize the art of birth photography.

“Despite birth photographers worldwide losing a majority of their work and income in 2020 due to the globalpandemic, I am thrilled to be able to feature the talent of our members in our annual image competition,” said Liz Cook, director of the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers (IABPB).

“We are incredibly proud of the entrants of this year’s competition because in spite of all we endured inour community in recent months, this contest represents the resistance birth photographers have to overcomeunforeseen challenges. We are proud to present to you a breathtaking body of work that shares life’s mostpowerful moments from 2020.”

As the number one birth association worldwide, IABPB encompasses more than 1,100 members in 52 countries.

“Our association has grown by leaps and bounds and our members continually produce excellent, emotive,invaluable birth photographs for the families that hire them,” said Cook. “I want to thank each and every IAPBPmember who entered this year and, of course, the families who agreed to share their beautiful and sacred birthmoments with the world.”

Without further ado, here are the winning photos of 2021—and they’re stunning.

First Place: “Daddy’s Girls” by Ashley Marston

40624 judge winner OVERALL 1

“The Origin Of Life” by Charlene Förster

40189 judge winner birth details

“The Greatest Love In The World” by Anne Lucy Silva Barbosa

40171 judge winner delivery

“Nourish” by Jami Edgar

41410 judge winner fresh 48

“Reach Down. He’s Almost Here” by Dana Jacobs

41093 judge winner labor

“My Body, My Birth” by Hanna Hill

40388 judge winner postpartum

“Primal Shapes Of Birth” by Laura Brink

41476 members winner labor

“Grace” by Danny Merz

40748 members winner delivery

“Nursing A Newborn” by Carey Lippert

41499 members winner fresh 48