This is what birth really looks like.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.