Most people don't see a birth up close until their own child is born, which makes sense. But these photos of kids watching their siblings being born show that birth can be a family experience, with current children bearing witness as their brothers and sisters are born. The intimate portrait of the bond between siblings these photos display is mind-boggling, and really captures a moment a big brother or sister will surely never forget.
There is some debate over whether children should watch the birth of a sibling, as Parents reported, but for the most part, experts agree that it's up to parents to decide what's right for their family. Many parents feel having their older children in the room during a birth allows the experience to become "a full-circle family moment" that takes on greater meaning for everyone, bonding the siblings right away, while others do not want to scare their children with the intensity of birth. At the end of the day, the people in the birthing room need to be the people who make you feel loved and supported, and it's up to you and your partner to decide who those people are.
These images submitted to the 2019 Birth Becomes Her Photo Contest showcase the thrill, excitement, surprise, shock, and sometimes even fear that can come with witnessing a birth. Whether or not you would have your own children in the room with you while pushing a new baby out, you have to agree that for these kids, watching their younger sibling being brought into this world is a quite the once in a lifetime experience (until their mom has another, that is).
1. Front Row Seat
This big sister in the making has a closeup view of her sibling's birth in this intimate shot by Kersti Smith and Wendy Everett of South Bay Birth Services. Mom is on her knees as she crowns, and dad reaches under her to support the baby's head as it leaves the birth canal. The older sibling watches from the back corner, a fascinated smile on her face as she waits to meet her brother or sister. Her gleeful grin captures the excitement of the moment.
2. In It Together
In this photo by Katie of MommaKTShoots, we see the raw emotion of an older sister looking at her mother and new sibling. Mom has the newborn on her stomach, covered in a towel, and her other hand reaches back to hold her daughter's cheek. The girl cries, seeming to be overcome with emotion after watching the birth.
3. Mixed Emotions
These three kids showcase quite the range of emotions as they watch their mother giving birth in this photo taken by Lori Martinez. Mom is in a birthing tub in the bottom of the frame, while dad dutifully stands next to her with a handheld camera. The eldest boy has his mouth open in an excited smile, and his younger brother stands in front of him, a bewildered look on his face. Their sister stands next to them with her hands raised to her face, and she appears to be pretty freaked out.
4. There From The Start
This picture shows 10-year-old Kayla catching her sister Everly the moment she is born, and the total amazement on her face is mesmerizing. Dad stands behind Kayla as she reaches for her sibling, and you can see mom's foot in the corner of the photo. Kayla's eyes are locked on Everly who is soaking in her first breaths out of the womb. The stunning image, captured by Paulina Splechta, went viral after Splechta posted the photo to her Facebook page. It's not hard to see why.
5. Let Me In
Family and birthing team surround this laboring mom in a birthing tub. Captured by Daniela Djean, the picture shows a mother whose face is set with determination. The baby's eldest sibling stands by the edge of the pool, seeming to want to be closer to her mom. Her father reaches for her, and another child is laying on the bed with his feet on dad's back. The fact that they are physically connecting to each other does not go unnoticed.
In this moving image, captured by Aubrey Bahr, a mother is giving birth in a car, with her partner and child looking on as she labors. The soon-to-be big sibling is gazing down at Mom and staying close to her as her leg is held up by another person — a midwife or family member? Perhaps even a stranger.
7. Checking In
A big brother in the making wants to make sure he knows what's happening to his mother in this photo taken by Vanessa Brown. Mom is on her knees as she labors, and her son crouches down to check on the status of baby's arrival with mom laughing.
8. Hands On
Someday, this child will be able to tell their little brother or sister they were right next to them from the second they were born. Mom holds the newborn, still encased in vernix caseosa and attached to the placenta, to her chest. Big sibling rests their hand on the baby, staring intently at the family's new addition. There is a trace of vernix on the toddler's cheek. The intimacy is visceral. The image was captured by Melissa Cate.
An older brother has a surprised look on his face in this shot by Lindsey Welch. Mom has her mouth open in an emotional smile as her partner hands her the baby, and big brother gazes at the pass-off, leaning over the birthing pool.
10. Keeping You Close
Meg Brock captured this photo of a child standing next to his laboring mother in a birthing pool. She has an arm wrapped around him with her eyes closed and his lips rest on her forehead. He is likely too young to grasp just how much emotional support he is providing.
11. Here For You
A soon-to-be big sister comforts her laboring mother in this photo taken by Seana of Birth Divine. Mom is in a birthing tub, clearly in pain, and her eyes are closed as she focuses on getting through each contraction with one hand in her partner's and the other clutching the grab bar. The little girl stands next to the tub, with her hands placed on Mom. Dad looks over to smile at their daughter, parental pride emanating.