Every childbirth is downright amazing—but these women took it up a notch by getting hands-on with their own deliveries. With the assistance of a doctor, doula or midwife, these moms caught their babies as they emerged during the last minutes of labor, helping to gently pull them out and into the world. These raw, intimate moments were stunningly documented by their birth photographers, who shared with us their thoughts as they witnessed the incredible love and strength of these women pour forth as they met their child for the first time.
The chance to capture the most raw, emotionally charged moments is what draws Melanie Pace to photographing births. “Mothers’ bodies are strong and capable of so much more than we can imagine, and witnessing that time and time again is so empowering," she says. "Watching mother-assisted births like this feeds my soul with such goodness that can’t be found in any other area of photography that I do.”
With a last-minute provider change due to a medically necessary induction, this mom was able to bring her son into the world in an empowering vaginal birth after c-section, catching him and bringing him to her chest herself. To express this moment, photographer Sarah Taege of Bella Birth shared a quote from Ina May Gaski, the mother of modern midwifery: “When we as a society begin to value mothers as the givers and supporters of life, then we will see social change in ways that matter.”
“There are no other words to describe assisting your own childbirth other than magical,” says mom Shelby Clowers. “It's truly an euphoric experience knowing your hands are the ones helping the moment you've been longing for. When you lift up your child and see him or her for the first time, you realize just exactly what you and your body are capable of.”
When Kathy Rosario found out that her friend and fellow photographer was planning a home birth, she had to be the one to capture it on camera. “To me, there’s nothing more amazing than watching a woman give birth, and when it’s in the comfort of her own home it feels even more special,” Rosario says. “It was pure bliss and tranquility as we awaited the baby’s arrival. I have photographed quite a few births already, but nothing compared to the serenity of a home water birth. Mothers are the most amazing beings on Earth! Look at the priceless photo for yourself and see how incredible the human body can be.”
Years ago, Andrea Vasquez of Ethan Avery Photography was introduced to the world of birth photography by her sister, who’s a midwife. “I’ve had wonderful experiences learning about women’s strength through the process,” she says. “When the mom reaches down and finds the strength to help deliver her own child, it's amazing! I just smile because I know I captured that moment for them forever.”
Vasquez has photographed over 50 births, but she keeps her birth client count low, only accepting one or two a month. “There has to be a good fit between myself and each client, as I’m invited into one of the most personal and vulnerable moments in a person’s life,” she explains. “I am always honored and excited to be there.”
Published September 2017