20 Award-Winning Birth Photos That Show The Magic Of Labor And Delivery

Nurse Midwife and mom of four, Caitlin Goodwin takes a look at this year's Birth Photography Award winners and shares her emotions in this feature post. Enjoy!

Birth is a beautiful, fleeting moment in time. If you are extraordinarily lucky, you get to capture your stunning moments for all time.

Luckily, the 2019 International Association of Professional Birth Photographers Image of the Year Competition invited hundreds of birth photographers to submit their best birth photos and we get to drool over them!

1. The emotions captured in the winning photo are very intense

intense birth moment
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First place winner. “Our Rainbow baby is finally here”, Belle Verdiglione — Belle Verdiglione Photography

Carrying a rainbow baby is an emotional task intermingled with fear, excitement, and joy. As a mother who experienced a miscarriage and a midwife who has ushered many rainbow babies earthside, I am blown away by the clear documentation of this moment of elation.

I can only imagine mom’s delight as she scooped her baby to her chest while her partner proudly looks on and the big sibling excitedly welcomes babe home.

The birth energy of this family is positively electric, and the emotion is palpable.

While the photograph invokes powerful emotions, I also love how they captured two siblings meeting for the first time.

The tender way they hold new baby’s hand shows the first steps in a lifetime journey of love. This photograph is the perfectly chosen winner of the competition.

2. The intimate moment when the baby is released from the amniotic sac to meet his mother

emotional moment of mother with baby released from amniotic sac after birth
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Best in Birth Details Category. “Enveloped”, Samantha Evans — Sevan Photography

Tough, transparent amniotic sacs protect babies in the womb, and this little one is no exception.

You can clearly see the outline of the bag of water entwined in mom’s fingers as she cuddles babe for the first time with a juicy umbilical cord.

Few mothers get a close-up of their baby’s quarters for the last nine months- what a special photo to treasure.

3. When everyone helps the little one come into this world

people struggle to help with baby birth
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Best in Delivery Category. “Many hands”, Ashley Marston — Ashley Marston Photography

Does any photo better sum up the phrase “it takes a village”? I encourage pregnant women to develop a network to support them through their pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

This beautiful image is photographic evidence of what a supportive team by which this fierce mama is surrounded.

Create your safe space during your birth and surround yourself with people who will protect it!

4. This family enjoys a peaceful, happy moment together

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Best in Fresh 48 Category. “This is us”, Kimberly Kimble — Rushes & Waves

There’s something so intimate about a forehead kiss, particularly while their baby is comfortably latched on.

This photograph captures a sweet family moment as they bond together and settle into their new normal. I do wonder if that flannel shirt inspired the photograph’s name.

5. A magic moment in the sunset

parents waiting peacefully during labor
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Best in Labor Category. “Water birth in sunset”, Dora Barens — Dora Barens Geboortefotografie

6. This new mother's cleansing moment after giving birth

mother cleansing after giving birth
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Best in Postpartum Category. “The most glorious cleansing of all”, Jerusha Sutton — Jerusha Sutton Photography

Birth represents renewal and a fresh start. It is the ultimate opportunity to begin a fresh chapter of our lives and there is nothing more symbolic than to physically wash away the remnants of the past.

The photo showcases this mama’s use of water to move through the uncomfortable waves of labor.

There is something so raw and vulnerable about birth. This photo captures the power this mama harnesses to bring forth her sweet child.

7. An emotional moment between these two hero parents

emotional moment of parents after baby birth
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Members Choice Best in Labor Category. “My love, my hero”, Cindy Willems — Birth Day geboortefotografie

8. A victorious end for this mother's pregnancy journey

relieved mother after labor and delivery
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Members Choice Best in Delivery Category. “They said I couldn't do it”, Brittany Fisher — Micah Lynn Birth Stories

In a world where you are made to doubt yourself and your body, this is such an affirming moment.

Mom looks like she is positively roaring this baby into being. What a beautiful moment for this fierce mama and a proud partner.

9. An adorable moment when two brothers meet their new sibling

brothers meet their newborn sibling
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Best in Postpartum Category. “Peek-a-Boo!”, Heather Sears — Heather Sears Photography

10. This adorable cuddling baby moment

peaceful baby right after being born
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Fresh 48 Category. “Little Koala”, Dania Watson — Lauren + Douglas

This baby makes me want to kiss their tiny toes! Is there any sweeter feeling than the warm, heavy feeling of a brand new baby on your chest? Admire this snuggly baby, pretending very hard that they have not quite been born yet.

11. A private moment for an exhausted mother in labor

exhausted mother during labor
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Labor Category. “Needing space”, Shea Long — Coastal Lifestyles Photography

As the hard-working mama sits alone on the toilet in this peaceful photograph, she embraces the respite in between labor pains.

The toilet is my favorite spot for a mama during long labors to help bring the baby down. Sitting in the dark seems to help a mama collect herself, particularly during the transition.

12. Dad's protective hands

dad's hands protecting newborn baby
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Birth Details Category. “Nuchal hand and cord baby born into dad's hands”, Belle Verdiglione — Belle Verdiglione Photography

This babe is in the process of being born gently into loving hands. There is both a nuchal hand and a nuchal cord present.

The nuchal hand means that the baby's hand is by their face during birth. The umbilical cord is also loosely wrapped around the baby’s neck and hand.

Nuchal cords are very common and occur in nearly 30% of full-term pregnancies!

13. All the support that a mother giving birth needs

emotional support for mother during labor
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Labor Category. “With woman”, Amanda Ditzel — Raleigh Birth Photography

It is an honor to be a midwife and serve women. Midwife literally means “with woman” and during your labor and birth, we strive to be everything we can to support you. Your family runs the show, we are there to hold space.

14. Just 5 more minutes, please!

sleepy baby after being born
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Fresh 48 Category, “Wake up!”, Sarah Romero — Sarah Elizabeth Photography

My favorite part of attending community births is having the honor of performing the newborn assessment a few hours after the golden hour because the baby is beginning to stir alert and seems to “wake up”.

This photo is aptly named “wake-up”, and babe is transitioning into a more alert phase. This picture perfectly captures those early hours with a sweet newborn.

And can we say that we suspect that this baby is going to have a killer latch?

15. The intense moment when the long 43 weeks of pregnancy are coming to an end

midwife support for mother during induced labor
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Labor Category. “Induction: 43 weeks”, Elaine Baca — Lane B Photography

Look at the love this baby will be born into. There is tenderness as the washcloth is placed on mama’s forehead, and the two women in the foreground are sharing the love.

This photo shows this woman being supported by caring midwives who advocate for all women.

Black women are significantly more likely to die in childbirth than white women. That number is not decreasing, the infant mortality rate between black and white women has more than doubled over the last decade.

As if that’s not a shocking fact, a black woman is also more likely to deliver preterm and give birth a low-birth-weight infant. Racial discrimination is a risk factor for both mom and baby. These disparities are attributed solely to skin color.

16. This capture of a mom-to-be getting a soothing massage

relaxing massage during labor
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Labor Category. “From all angles”, Shea Long — Coastal Lifestyles Photography

17. Peaceful moments after struggles

rainbow baby resting on peaceful mom
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Postpartum Category. “Her rainbow is here”, Bree Garcia — J&B Photography LLC

Having a miscarriage before falling pregnant with my last son made me feel incredibly vulnerable this pregnancy and birth.

I always felt a sense of worry and knew that it wouldn’t fade until my babe was on the outside. At the moment that I pulled my infant onto my chest, I felt so much relief.

As his warm body snuggled on my bare chest in the cool air, I felt my soul begin to heal. This enchanting photograph perfectly captures the whirlwind of emotions that comes with birthing a rainbow baby.

18. The love and admiration on this dad's face

love and admiration of new dad
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Postpartum Category. “Can't take my eyes off you”, Deborah Elenter — NEO Photography

During birth, I don’t always get to see the love and admiration on a father’s face. I am always looking at babe or mom, and I often miss it.

No matter how your baby is born, these first few moments between parents are magical. Thank goodness these birth photographers have caught some truly spectacular photos that perfectly capture the love between these partners.

19. The emotions of a big brother to be

sibling relationship begins before birth
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Birth Details Category. “The emotions of a big brother to be”, Bree Garcia — J&B Photography LLC

As a midwife, my favorite time in the postpartum period was when the big sisters or brothers would enter the room.

Each introduction between siblings is building the first moments in a very special relationship.

There’s excitement mixed with apprehension as they check out their new family member. These big brothers are already smitten with their new little sibling.

20. A deeply meaningful moment of separation

umbilical cord separation traditional ceremony
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Birth Details Category. “Final separation”, Lawren Snapka — Lawren Rose Photography

For some, cutting the cord is a significant event that is overflowing with meaning. This ceremony features cord burning, a slow and gentle way to sever the physical tie that runs between mom and baby.

Burning the cord takes between five and ten minutes by gradually cauterizing the vessels in the umbilical cord.

Because it rejects the tradition of quickly cutting the cord, the result is delayed cord clamping which has many favorable outcomes.

If you give birth in a hospital or other highly regulated facility, you may not be able to perform a cord burning due to fire codes.

Now that you’ve enjoyed these tantalizing close-ups of birth from the 2019 Image Competition, we hope to see our magnificent readers’ entries next year! The International Association of Professional Birth Photographers.

happy family after baby delivery
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Written by Caitlin Goodwin

Caitlin Goodwin is a board certified nurse-midwife, runs the family travel and autism blog, Typically Twitterpated and is a mom to four children. In her spare time, she and her family follow a gluten-free diet and share a love of all things travel, especially Disney.