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As ubiquitous as it is to living, the actual process of birth is shrouded in mystery unless you have literally been part of it. Fortunately, there are folks out there who have made it their mission to document this beautiful process for the rest of us. 

Every year, the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers launches a competition to commemorate the best photos of the year. We got in touch with the IAPBP to learn more. So scroll through, upvote your favorites and be sure to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below. Be warned, some of the images are graphic.

More info: Birthphotgraphers.com

#1

Members' Choice: Best In Postpartum: "True Love", Sophie Bailey , United Kingdom

Members' Choice: Best In Postpartum: "True Love", Sophie Bailey , United Kingdom

Sam, this beautiful doggy, had spent the whole evening by his Mama's side as she laboured. He even sat next to the birth pool, with the occasional cry and woof but mostly resting his head on the pool as he sensed the shift in the atmosphere. As this beautiful baby arrived, acceptance was instant. With sniffs and kisses. As his Mama lay on the settee with his new big sister just after delivering the placenta, I turned around to find him looking with so much love at his newest family member. It was a split second moment but in that second the amount of love in those eyes was so palpable I almost cried on the spot!

Sophie Bailey Report

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fatharry4 avatar
Fat Harry
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

There is nothing in the world as special as a dog. The relationship we share with them is just incredible.

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#2

Best In Delivery: Fine Art: "Raw Embrace", Isabell Steinert , Germany

Best In Delivery: Fine Art: "Raw Embrace", Isabell Steinert , Germany

With a sigh of relief, she picked up her daughter - still covered in vernix - and held her close to her.

Isabell Steinert Report

#3

Members' Choice: Best Overall: "The Weight Of Loss", Kyra Wijnhausen, United States

Members' Choice: Best Overall: "The Weight Of Loss", Kyra Wijnhausen, United States

A father and a grandfather bearing the unbelievable weight of grief and loss

Kyra Wijnhausen Report

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livlisbon84 avatar
Olivia Lisbon
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It seems the baby was stillborn - heartbreaking. 9 months of preparing, daring to love, and then this. It happened to my aunt and uncle and it destroyed them; I genuinely hope these people managed to cope.

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Bored Panda got in touch with the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers (IAPBP) and they were kind enough to answer some of our questions. “IAPBP was started in 2010 by our founder with the purpose of assisting expectant birth persons who are in search of a professional birth photographer in their area. IAPBP has over 1,100 members in 32 countries and we are growing daily.”

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“We are a genuine community of talented artists eager to connect with expectant birth persons. Behind the scenes, our community of artists also support one another by sharing resources to grow themselves and their businesses.”

#4

Best Overall: First Place: "Holding Hands", Nora Dalmasso, Argentina

Best Overall: First Place: "Holding Hands", Nora Dalmasso, Argentina

Nora Dalmasso Report

#5

Honorable Mention: "Attitude", Sarah Turner , Germany

Honorable Mention: "Attitude", Sarah Turner , Germany

This snapshot was the very last picture I took after a long and tiring home birth and I only just realised at home what this newborn girl was "telling" us.

Sarah Turner Report

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kieleahar_1 avatar
KieLeaHar
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Let. Me. Sleep. You take me out of my cozy waterbed for this?

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#6

Members' Choice: Best In Delivery: "By Morning Light", Nicole Hamic, United States

Members' Choice: Best In Delivery: "By Morning Light", Nicole Hamic, United States

This family welcomed their first baby at home and labored all through the night and their son was born just as the sun crested the mountains

Nicole Hamic Report

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stephanvandermerwe avatar
Indosidius
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This is a beautiful moment. Some people will be grossed out by the blood and everything, but I see love and life.

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Like some other photo organizations, it also runs an annual competition, so we were curious to hear more about its origins. “The core value of IAPBP is sharing the beauty in birth. It is the driving factor behind everything we do. We wanted to share our imagery with parents hoping to educate and share stories of joy and power. Something that isn't always depicted in birth images particularly in the movies.”

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#7

Honorable Mention: "A Grandmother Is Born", Liz Walsh , United States

Honorable Mention: "A Grandmother Is Born", Liz Walsh , United States

A previous loss for this family meant the birth of this baby would be celebrated with pronounced enthusiasm, especially between this tightly bonded daughter and her mother, now a grandmother.

Liz Walsh Report

#8

Best In Delivery: Documentary: "Reflections Of Birth", Settia Tin, Netherlands

Best In Delivery: Documentary: "Reflections Of Birth", Settia Tin, Netherlands

For this photo, you have to look twice to see what's happening. The mother is giving birth on her hands and knees, and the baby's head has just been born. Without the mirror, I couldn't have captured this moment.

Settia Tin Report

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#9

Honorable Mention: "Mommy, I Will Help You With My Wand!", Gladys Garcia,united States

Honorable Mention: "Mommy, I Will Help You With My Wand!", Gladys Garcia,united States

This little boy stole all our hearts. His heart for his laboring mama was the most precious thing to witness. He was concerned, yet wise beyond his years. Despite only being 4 yrs old, he knew to keep his touch gentle and his voice quiet, but would bring lego flowers to her that could get wet, or kiss her hand when her eyes were closed. He was a gentle giant that gave her strength in the most impactful way when she needed it. Here he was waving his "wand" to take her pain away!

Gladys Garcia Report

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“By sharing our work, we hope that one parent might see an image they didn't know was possible to have. By doing this, it could strike up conversations with them and their care provider to start forming a plan of how they'd like their birth to go,” they shared with Bored Panda. 

#10

Best In Hardship & Loss: "Generation Lost", Kyra Wijnhausen, United States

Best In Hardship & Loss: "Generation Lost", Kyra Wijnhausen, United States

A grandmother holds her grandchild, born sleeping, while looking at her son. She feels the pain of missing her grandchild and also carries to pain of her child losing his baby.

Kyra Wijnhausen Report

#11

Best In Postpartum: "A Whole Story In One Image", Jessica Innemee , Netherlands

Best In Postpartum: "A Whole Story In One Image", Jessica Innemee , Netherlands

After a beautiful c-section, the belly is being closed, mom is feeling fine and dad is getting to know his baby girl.

Jessica Innemee Report

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heatheratwood_1 avatar
Heather Atwood
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

First child was unplanned C Cection, the other 3 were planned-SO GREAT!!

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#12

Best In Birth Details: Black & White: "Focusing", Ania Wibig , Poland

Best In Birth Details: Black & White: "Focusing", Ania Wibig , Poland

Ania Wibig Report

Part of the reason more and more mothers are interested in documenting their births is the same logic why people want wedding photographers. For those in the thick of the storm, it might be hard to remember the event, so photo evidence is a way to preserve the memory. While some might balk at the idea of looking at images of birth, this can be a good opportunity to take a step back and evaluate why one feels that way. After all, birth is an essential part of life, indeed, it’s, without exaggeration, a completely necessary part. Without a birth, none of us would be here to see these images. 

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#13

Best In Birth Details: Documentary: Feet First, Jessica Innemee, Netherlands

Best In Birth Details: Documentary: Feet First, Jessica Innemee, Netherlands

A beautiful calm breech birth. They expected her bum to come first, but whoop, there were two little feet!

Jessica Innemee Report

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weatherwitch101 avatar
weatherwitch
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I was breech. My poor mum was so damaged internally that I was the only child. I have never seen a breech baby image before ❤️

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#14

Members' Choice: Best In Birth Details: "Beyond The Veil", Julie Francom, United States

Members' Choice: Best In Birth Details: "Beyond The Veil", Julie Francom, United States

I love how this mom paused to admire and appreciate the beauty of the sac that protected her baby for nine months. The baby boy was born en caul, coming into the world with the sac over his head and right into his mother's arms.

Julie Francom Report

#15

Best In Birth Details: Fine Art: "Vernix And Breastmilk Rings", Tiarra Doherty, United States

Best In Birth Details: Fine Art: "Vernix And Breastmilk Rings", Tiarra Doherty, United States

This mom's labor was only 15 minutes from first contraction until baby in her arms. I captured this as she was pulling up her beautiful 4th babe.

Tiarra Doherty Report

Perhaps one reason why some people shy away from births is the fact that, unless you have done it yourself, it’s a somewhat unknown process. It’s scary, stressful and very, very emotional. So birth photography isn’t just about helping families immortalize this precious moment, it helps make the unknown more known

#16

Best In Birth Details: "Ponte Entres Os Mundo", Luma Braz, Brazil

Best In Birth Details: "Ponte Entres Os Mundo", Luma Braz, Brazil

Luma Braz Report

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Indosidius
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I had to look carefully in this one. Twins, having g their first feeding (I assume it is their first)

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#17

Best In Postpartum: Documentary: "Nebula Of Love", Colleen Murtha , United States

Best In Postpartum: Documentary: "Nebula Of Love", Colleen Murtha , United States

After having a surprise birth in the bathroom, Mom got into the birthing pool to relax and enjoy her first moment with her baby. Dad was infatuated with his baby boy and reached down to touch his hands. Their son then grabbed his finger and it was the perfect peaceful moment in the starry abyss of lights.

Colleen Murtha Report

#18

Best In Delivery: Black & White: "Into Their Hands", Lauren Maggi , United States

Best In Delivery: Black & White: "Into Their Hands", Lauren Maggi , United States

A repeat c-section, done on mom's terms. The drape dropped when her baby boy came into the world into the hands of the team she chose and trusted, she got to announce it was a boy, and she felt the empowerment of her birth, even though her baby boy was delivered into their hands, and not pulled into the world by her hands, she still felt the empowerment of her decisions and choices in a hard situation.

Lauren Maggi Report

People who have given birth might be curious about the logistics of the entire process. After all, depending on the circumstances, the birth might take place in a low-light setting. More commonly, it might, literally, last for hours and hours. Actual birth photographers might be a rare breed willing to literally sleep on home and hospital floors to get the shot they need.

#19

Honorable Mention: "Bubble", Hanna Troch, Belgium

Honorable Mention: "Bubble", Hanna Troch, Belgium

Hanna Troch Report

#20

Members' Choice: Best In Labor: "Power Couple", Larissa Van De Geer, Netherlands

Members' Choice: Best In Labor: "Power Couple", Larissa Van De Geer, Netherlands

Larissa van de Geer Report

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#21

Best In Postpartum: Black & White: "Hello My Little Sister", Karoline Saadi , Brazil

Best In Postpartum: Black & White: "Hello My Little Sister", Karoline Saadi , Brazil

Upon meeting their newborn sister, the two daughters continue breastfeeding TANDEN, an act of surrender, completeness and connection between mother and daughters!

Karoline Saadi Report

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daqadoodles_1 avatar
Debbie
Community Member
1 month ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I'm getting angry about the censorship of breastfeeding. Ffs, it is a natural thing!!

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While pregnancy has been depicted in physical art since the ancient world, even in this day and age, birth, in popular culture, is a common plot point. The characters rushing to a hospital when the water breaks at an inopportune time, a family going through a stillbirth. However, the actual mechanics of a birth are almost never shown. 

#22

Best In Postpartum: Fine Art: "Finally Face To Face", Lisa Weingardt, United States

Best In Postpartum: Fine Art: "Finally Face To Face", Lisa Weingardt, United States

A redemptive HBAC story full of moments she missed in her first operative delivery.

Lisa Weingardt Report

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#23

Honorable Mention: "Her Baby, Her Birth, Her Way (Maternal Assisted Caesarean)", Inge Berken, Netherlands

Honorable Mention: "Her Baby, Her Birth, Her Way (Maternal Assisted Caesarean)", Inge Berken, Netherlands

A maternal assisted Caesarean birth is a caesarean section delivery that allows the mother to be actively involved in her birth. In a maternal assisted caesaren (MAC) the mother is able to reach down to help pull her baby out of the womb, lifting the baby straight onto her chest for skin-to-skin contac

Inge Berken Report

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#24

Best In Labor: "Relax, Soften, Open", Chinelle Rojas, United States

Best In Labor: "Relax, Soften, Open", Chinelle Rojas, United States

In this striking black and white image, we witness the profound and transformative moments as a mother steps into a birth pool during labor. The high-contrast composition enhances the depth and intensity of the scene, allowing emotions and sensations to take center stage.

Standing confidently and nude, the mother embraces the power and vulnerability of her body. The soft illumination from outside the sliding glass door delicately highlights her form, creating a captivating interplay of light and shadows. This ethereal lighting accentuates her curves and contours, symbolizing the radiant strength and beauty that emanates from within.

Behind the mother, a set of birth affirmation card hang, serving as a visual anchor amidst the anticipation and intensity of labor. The first card bears the words "relax, soften, open," a gentle reminder for the mother to surrender to the natural rhythm of her body, to trust in the process, and to embrace the transformative journey ahead.

As she steps into the birth pool, the mother allows her body to acclimate to the soothing temperature of the water. This moment of pause and reflection signifies a pivotal transition, where the water becomes a sanctuary of comfort and support, easing the physical and emotional strain of labor.

The black and white aesthetic of the image adds a timeless quality, emphasizing the raw and primal nature of childbirth. By stripping away color, the image invites us to focus on the essence of the moment – the mother's strength, determination, and connection with her body.

Through this captivating composition, we are reminded of the inherent beauty and power of childbirth. It is a testament to the mother's resilience, courage, and ability to embrace the unknown. This image encapsulates the transformative journey of labor, the importance of self-affirmation, and the profound connection between a mother and her body.

It serves as a tribute to the incredible strength and grace exhibited by mothers during childbirth, as they navigate the depths of their own being to bring new life into the world.

Chinelle Rojas Report

Indeed, even medical instructions of the modern era are still, generally, clinical and unimaginative. It seems unlikely that a person wanting to understand not the medicine behind a birth, but birth as an experience would not come away from this sort of depiction with any measure of inspiration

#25

Best In Labor: Fine Art: "Heart Hold", Laura Brink, Australia

Best In Labor: Fine Art: "Heart Hold", Laura Brink, Australia

'Heart Hold' was captured during the peak of Patricia's labour at home on the Gold Coast, QLD, Australia. This image shows the palpable trust and love shown by Patricia's birth support during a challenging phase of labour. Just 35 minutes later, the heartbreaking decision to call an ambulance for professional medical support was made following significant signs of distress and mother's intuition. Patricia had planned to free birth her baby at her home, but adapted to change beautifully as her baby became significantly distressed during labour, requiring a Category 1 Emergency Caesarian with general anaesthetic, temporary neonatal CPR resulting in NICU admission, only 10 minutes after arrival to hospital.

Laura Brink Report

#26

Honorable Mention: "A Fluid Connection", Katie Lacer, United States

Honorable Mention: "A Fluid Connection", Katie Lacer, United States

This couple has a connection that is almost overwhelming, they love each other so well. It's apparent in how they melt into one another, even during hard labor. Their hands, together but open, a moment of release in the middle of something so hard, shows just how fluid this entire process is.

Katie Lacer Report

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#27

Honorable Mention: "Miracle #2", Martha Lerner, United States

Honorable Mention: "Miracle #2", Martha Lerner, United States

This image represents their second miracle baby, Baby S. Their first was conceived via IVF/surrogate and he was named Seven because he was attempt number 7. Miraculously, they got pregnant and in this picture were finally meeting their second miracle, born via c-section after trying ALL THE THINGS to have a non-medicated, natural birth.

Martha Lerner Report

#28

Honorable Mention:"Love-Is-Love-In-Birth-And-Life", Dana Jacobs, United States

Honorable Mention:"Love-Is-Love-In-Birth-And-Life", Dana Jacobs, United States

I just loved my client's tattoo touting "Love is Love" and seeing it in proximity to her pregnant belly, still containing a baby that her partner and her worked so hard to create, felt so beautiful and full of meaning, to me. May we all understand that "Love is Love" in birth and in all areas of life.

Dana Jacobs Report

#29

Best In Labor: Black & White: "In The Shadows", Emily Santi , United States

Best In Labor: Black & White: "In The Shadows", Emily Santi , United States

Labor was starting to take a toll on this mother. She was deep in the shadows, well into her two-day labor with her fourth baby.

Emily Santi Report

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weatherwitch101 avatar
weatherwitch
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Fourth Labour at two days and the other ladies fourth Labour was 15 minutes. Poor mum here she looks exhausted ❤️

#30

Best In Labor: Documentary: "Unyielding Resolve: Pushing Through", Natalie Broders, United States

Best In Labor: Documentary: "Unyielding Resolve: Pushing Through", Natalie Broders, United States

Natalie Broders Report

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#31

Honorable Mention: "Shapes Of Waves And Sunrays", Mariel Peters, Netherlands

Honorable Mention: "Shapes Of Waves And Sunrays", Mariel Peters, Netherlands

Mariel Peters Report

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#32

Honorable Mention: "An (Extra)ordinary Day At Home", Laura Brink, Australia

Honorable Mention: "An (Extra)ordinary Day At Home", Laura Brink, Australia

During her second labour, but first home birth, Tara moved in and out of the beaming sun, then would retreat back to the darkness and safety of her birth space inside. She'd walk past the newborn clothes she hung earlier that morning during the early stages of her labour, then stop to surge over her first daughter's cubby house. I loved the simplicity and naturalness of allowing birth, despite how extraordinary, to flow into the normal, day-to-day of our lives.

Laura Brink Report

#33

Honorable Mention: "Reflection", Jessica Miles , United States

Honorable Mention: "Reflection", Jessica Miles , United States

Reflection of birthing person receiving spinal anesthesia through the window of the scrub room showing the reflection of the scrub sink.

Jessica Miles Report

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