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8 powerful, award-winning birth photos you need to see right now

This is what birth really looks like.

8 powerful, award-winning birth photos you need to see right now

Way back in 2014 two birth photographers, Monet Nicole and Jennifer Mason came together to create Birth Becomes Her, a community for birth photographers. The years since have seen the community grow and Birth Becomes Her now has hundreds of thousands of followers across social media platforms.

Every year they host a photo contest honoring the best birth pictures from five categories: hospital, out-of-hospital, color, black and white and postpartum. In the beginning, they would get just a little over a hundred. The most recent contest saw over 1,200 submissions.

Here are a few of our favorite winners (and submissions) from the Birth Becomes Her photo contest.

This is the picture that became the overall winner 

Sadie Wild Photography

This incredible post-birth pic snapped by Sadie Wilde Photography won the whole contest. It captures the moment that Diana Spalding, midwife + Motherly's Digital Education Editor, described so eloquently in her recent TEDx talk.

"There is this moment after a woman gives birth—however a woman gives birth—when the room kind of stands still, and you realize that you are in the presence of something inexplicably magical," Spalding explains.

She continues: "The world feels different—because it is different. There's this new little baby. And there's this new mom...She is full of power and confidence and has this glow that beams 'look what I just did'."

Look what this mama just did. She is incredible.

Thank you, Sadie Wilde for preserving this moment.

This photo won second place 

Belle Verdiglione Photography

This intense and intimate photo by Australia's Belle Verdiglione Photography shows a moment few get to see and which shows the true power of our bodies.

In a caption on Instagram, Belle Verdiglione explained how this photo has created a massive impact, even inspiring other art:

"This photo just makes my heart sing! The amount of attention it has had just blows me away! I almost didn't enter this photo into the @birthbecomesher image contest & then I came 2nd! Amy from @motherboardbirth is creating a visual artwork inspired from this image. Look how incredible she is?! Furthermore, this image recently won the WA @aipp_official Print Handlers Award (WOW!) and you can see me with the crew who chose this image out of ALL of the entries for the entire competition!!!! Thanks to Aya @aya.scape for the photo! "

Third place winner 

Toni Nichole Photos

This pic won bronze in the Birth Becomes Her contest, and it's clear why it ranked so high. The photo by Toni Nichole Photos shows a new family in the birth pool moments after delivery.

When Toni learned her photo won third place in the BBH contest she was overwhelmed.

"I am a speechless, sobbing mess! 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 scared moment. @the.thankful.family you are forever ingrained in my heart," she noted on Instagram.

This photo won 1st place in the hospital birth category 

Life and Lens Photography

This photograph by Life and Lens Photography took first place in the hospital birth category and it is easy to see why. The moment captured is a fleeing one. Baby is birth born and unborn and everything after this moment will be different.

The photo appears on Life and Lens Photography's Facebook page, a testament to how birth photographers have been changing the social media landscape and proving that images of birth deserve to be seen.

This joyful pic won 3rd place in the black + white category 

Salt City Birth & Newborn Photography

This beautiful photo by Salt City Birth & Newborn Photography captures the joy a couple feels in those first moments together with their new child.

The birth took place at Wasatch Midwifery and Wellness and the mama in this photo, Lydia, actually shared her birth story on YouTube as well.

"I had such an empowering natural birth experience that I had to share my video. Unmedicated birth in a birth center was my goal from the outset of this pregnancy. There was a ton of things I did to prepare myself, and I blog about that on my website. With the help of my midwife and her team, I was able to accomplish the goal with a healthy body and baby. I really do feel like the team and Wasatch Midwifery and Wellness left me better and stronger. Natural child birth is the real deal and you can see it in my face that I was sweating and working hard. But, for me it transformed me into a stronger woman than I was before. I'm so happy it was an empowering moment and I want to share it with everyone to perhaps help build courage for their own birth," she wrote.

Honorable mention, this beautiful post C-section shot 

Shannon Wrona Ketelsen

This photo did not win in the hospital birth category, but we at Motherly want to give Shannon Wrona Ketelsen's photo an honorable mention because as Birth Becomes Her founder Monet Nicole previously wrote, "In the world of social media, [we] often see just one type of birth story held up as the ideal: an unmedicated vaginal birth (ideally at home, in the water), where a beautiful woman labors peacefully and then clutches a just-born baby to her chest."

But birth photographers like Ketelsen are proving that C-section births are so beautiful and so very worthy of seeing in our Instagram feeds.

This pic won 1st place in the color catagory

Fox Valley Birth and Baby

This photograph by Mary Nieland from Fox Valley Birth and Baby was actually her very first photo as the company's newest photographer.

Clearly, Mary is incredibly talented at capturing the most intimate moments during birth.

The original caption on the Fox Valley Birth and Baby Instagram account reads: "A moment of relaxation flooded over her body just minutes before she joyfully brought her baby into the world."

Sharing a moment like this with your partner during the birth is so precious and intimate and we're so glad Fox Valley Birth and Baby preserved this second in time for this mama.

This pic took 1st place in the postpartum category

Art by Jessica

This photo was submitted by the Denver-based documentary photographer behind Art by Jessica.

When she posted this pic to her Facebook page she captioned it with just three words: "doula in training"

We love everything about this photo. The newness of that baby on mama's chest, the sweet pajamas on the new big sister and drops of blood on the pillow. This is what birth is. It's a family.

To see the rest of the photos check out the Birth Becomes Her website.

The one thing your family needs to practice gratitude

And a tradition you'll want to keep for years.

Gracious Gobbler

I think I can speak for well, basically everyone on planet earth when I say things have been a bit stressful lately. Juggling virtual school, work and the weight of worry about all the things, it's increasingly difficult to take even a moment to be grateful and positive these days. It's far easier to fall into a grump cycle, nagging my kids for all the things they didn't do (after being asked nine times), snapping at their bickering and never really acknowledging the good stuff.

But the truth is, gratitude and appreciation is the kind of medicine we need now more than ever—and not just because the season is upon us. For one thing, practicing gratitude is a scientifically proven way to boost our happiness, health and relationships. More importantly, we need to ensure we're cultivating it in our children even when things are challenging. Especially when things are challenging.

I'm ready to crank the thankfulness up a few dozen notches and reboot our family's gratitude game so we can usher out 2020 on a fresh note. So, I've called in some reinforcements.

Enter: the Gracious Gobbler.

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Tips parents need to know about poor air quality and caring for kids with asthma

There are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

With the added concern of COVID-19 and the effect it can have on breathing, many parents feel unsure about how to keep their children protected. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

Here are tips parents need to know about how to deal with poor air quality when your child has asthma.

Minimize smoke exposure.

Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at AirNow.gov. An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

Do your best to filter the air.

According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

"Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

"COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

Most importantly, don't panic.

In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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