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Believe it, baby: All birth is beautiful

A birth photographer shares what she’s learned capturing hundreds of births. 

Believe it, baby: All birth is beautiful

Most of us grew up hearing our fair share of birth stories.


Perhaps some of them were positive. But I imagine that many of them left you cringing, just like they left me.

We live in a culture that instills fear of birth in women and men from almost the moment we leave the womb.

We live in a world where giving birth often brings one of two images to mind: a woman writhing in pain, or a freshly swaddled newborn, with no hint of the birth process in sight.

As a birth photographer, I’m lucky to work with men and women who have found a way to move past this cultural norm. Men and women who embrace the beauty in birth, because yes—birth is beautiful! And yet it only takes one of my posts or photos going viral to remind me how far we still have to come.

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When I began my work, I would hear about friends and acquaintances who would scroll through my Instagram account (@monetnicolebirths) in complete shock and sometimes disgust. And these were people who knew me! I can only imagine the hundreds or thousands of people who do this around the country and the world, people who have this fear instilled so deeply that they can only react with a similarly negative emotion.

But here’s the wonderful truth: Birth is beautiful whether or not they can see it.

There is something intrinsically powerful and stunning about bringing another human being into the world, whether it’s through an unmedicated vaginal birth or an emergency cesarean. Giving birth is akin to the aspens changing in the fall or a powerful snowstorm that overtakes a city street. Birth is an immensely transformative and beautiful experience.

I have the unique honor of capturing that beauty and then sharing it with the world. As a birth photographer, my goal has always been twofold: to give my clients lasting memories from one of the most important days in their lives, and to show the world that Birth Becomes You. Despite the scary stories you might have heard, despite the overly sterile images you’ve seen, birth, in all its fullness, is beautiful... and you, my friend, will be beautiful when you give birth to your child.

This beauty is bigger than words, and it will invade you slowly. As each contraction peaks, birth’s beauty will soften you, open you, transform you. As you let go of your body, and perhaps as you let go of all well-laid plans, you’ll find that there is such beauty in bringing your child into the world. It’s a beauty that defies narrow parameters. It’s a beauty that couldn’t care less about what you wear or the makeup on your face. And then the moment will come when your baby is in your arms, and you’ll realize that never before have you felt this level of pride and joy. Then beauty will pour out and flood through the room, and we’ll all be captivated by you and your baby.

Perhaps you don’t believe me. I understand. We’ve all heard so many stories, and so many negative images have been burned into our minds. Or perhaps you had your birth, and you didn’t feel beautiful—you felt scared, or alone, or just ready to be done. Regardless, let me assure you: There was still beauty in your story. And it might take years for you to find it, but it’s there. I promise.

Birth becomes you. Birth can be one moment in your life where you’re able to fully sink into yourself and find that at the core of your being is an overwhelming beauty. A beauty that is bigger than wrinkles or a dress size. A beauty that doesn’t rely on superficial standards that none of us can meet.

So thank you for those who celebrate and share these images with your family and friends. Thank you for choosing to abandon the negative talk we’ve engaged in for years. Birth is beautiful. And may the beauty of birth be the first thing we tell our children.

May that be the first thing that comes to their minds when it’s their turn.

There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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Life

My 3-year-old is eating peanut butter toast with banana for breakfast (his request), and we are officially running late for preschool. We need to get in the car soon if we want to miss the morning traffic, but he has decided that he no longer wants the food that he begged for two minutes earlier. What started off as a relatively calm breakfast has turned into a battle of wills.

"You're going to be hungry," I say, realizing immediately that he could care less. I can feel my frustration rising, and even though I'm trying to stay calm, I'm getting snappy and irritable. In hindsight, I can see so many opportunities that fell through the cracks to salvage this morning, but at the moment… there was nothing.

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