Childbirth can take us on a wondrous, beautiful, messy, and yes, sometimes wild ride. No matter how babies come into the world, the photos taken the instant they arrive always carry such emotion. It's no wonder that many parents try to document the experience as best they can, enlisting trusted family members, friends, or even professionals to capture an often indescribable moment. Scrolling through
wild and beautiful #birthphotos on Instagram reminds me of the hectic minutes just before and after I gave birth to my little ones. I always get a little teary-eyed.
Some mamas center themselves quietly in the middle of their surges; others groan, huff, or yell their way over the crest. The most pressing thing on our minds is the urge to push through all the pain and get that baby out. During a C-section, there's the doctor tugging at your belly behind the surgical curtain while you wait. Then, the world seems to stop. The doctor holds your baby up high for you to see, and you hear a piercing wail breaking through the air. In the rush of motion and emotion, someone (not you, because you literally just had a whole human come out of you)
snaps a photo. And thank goodness they did. For these new moms on Instagram, the picture of the seconds before and after they gave birth will be one they cherish forever. 1 Wait, It's A... Boy?!
In this awesome moment photographed by
Lauren Jolly, Winston Salem birth photographer, blogger Nancy Ray finds out shortly after giving birth that the baby she'd thought was a girl... is actually a bouncing little boy.
"Nancy exclaimed, 'What is THAT? Is this a boy baby?!' [Nancy's husband] immediately double checked and fell to his knees. We were all in shock and couldn't stop laughing," Jolly tells Romper.
2 I Love You So Much
Just after giving birth to her precious rainbow baby, mom Justine Zampogna kisses her partner with their newborn between them. So many emotions come with finally holding the long-awaited little one; no wonder we reach out to hug or kiss our partners. The birthing staff surrounding them witnesses the intimate moment, which was shot by
Jessica Newton of Home Grown Photography, based in Perth, Australia. 3 The Calm Before The Storm
In an instance of calm before the big occasion,
artist Emily Rose McDonald labors in a serene birthing pool to bring her baby into the world. I loved seeing the wisps escaping from the French braid keeping her hair out of her face. Her right hand, splayed steadily to her side, is the only hint of the strain her body is going through. 4 We Did It! Nicole Burron, an astrologist and palm reader, flashes a gorgeous, tired smile as she clutches her wee one to her chest. Her son, fresh from the womb, is covered in vernix and just getting used to feeling his mother's skin against his own. But the tear-jerker in this photo might be the way her husband's finger slipped into the baby's hand to say hello. 5 I Loved You Before I Met You
Leah T. receives her new son Jack as birth workers carefully place him in her arms. Everything changes in that breathless second. The perspective from a mother's-eye view gives us a chance to notice how excited doctors and nurses can be to see our new additions, too. 6 Nice To Meet You, Little One
mom Ashley and her partner peek in wonder at their bundle of joy just minutes after baby's arrival. After spending so long wondering what (and who) they will look like, it's trippy to finally see that tiny face. The whole world shifts in that moment. 7 Just Breathe Through It
Brittany Anderson leans forward during labor in a second of intense concentration. With her hair pulled up into a wavy ponytail cascading against her neck, she looks like she's harnessing the strength she needs to push through to the finish line. Sometimes it's the photos of mothers still and tense that remind us most of how powerful we can be during childbirth. 8 Happy Birthday, Baby
I admit my eyes got a little misty at the sight of
Ashley Tu'avao snuggling her daughter against her cheeks. One hand firmly holds the newborn against her and the other hand gently grasps the baby's little fingers. With their eyes closed, they soak in each other's presence. 9 Push Just A Little More
Photographer and mother
Elizabeth Berghuis focuses her energy on pushing as fellow photog Annica Quakenbush is behind the shutter. The physicality in this photo socks you in the gut: the way Elizabeth tucks her chin into her chest, drawing her knees toward her face, her mouth pressed tightly. Her laser focus is something to behold. 10 OMG This Just Happened!
The delightful, surprised face on
Heather Grimm highlights the wonder at the end of labor. You push and push, and before you realize it, you have a miracle in your hands. Great reward for all that hard work! Photograph by Kali Norton. 11 You're So Beautiful
photographer Monet Moutrie took a wonderful image of a mama gazing into her baby's face for the first time. Even though the photo features mom, baby, and other supportive faces, I couldn't help but notice all the literal helping hands outstretched. Birth can be such a team sport. 12 What A Time To Be Alive
I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.
13 Sweet Release
What an incredible
shot by Jen Pierce, representing the flood of relief many new moms experience when at last we can throw our heads back in release. The pressure has eased. Childbirth is over, but a new journey has begun. 14 Lean On Me
A couple seems to "dance" their way through labor, leaning their heads against each other. This photo, taken by
Samantha of Sabel Moments, demonstrates how it can also take two to tango when it comes to birth. Mom is in good hands. 15 Look Who's Here
A war of emotions — happiness, relief, tenderness — plays out on the face of a mother bringing her newborn into the world. She rests against an equally joyous partner, whose smile is waiting to greet the little one. Rowan Steiner of
Salt City Birth & Newborn Photography recorded this touching occasion. 16 Hold My Hand
Bracing against her knee in pain and concentration, this laboring mom holds her birth supporter's hand in a shot by
Milk and Hannah photographer Hannah Spencer. You can see the effort etched on her face; her whole body is working toward the monumental goal of bringing a baby into the world. Mamas are amazing. 17 Let It All Out
And then sometimes the only thing you can do when it's over is cry, as
photographer Colleen Creehan's work shows us. Birth is incredibly intense, requiring both mental and emotional energy to get through it. We deserve a good bawl after all that. 18 Come Here, Sweet Baby
Among my favorite #birthphotos are ones that depict all the creative ways mamas give birth, like this one by
Brisbane-based photographer Angie Peterson. Whether that looks like kneeling, squatting, or lying on your back, it's all about whatever makes mom feel comfortable and confident. It's amazing to have the opportunity to reach down and pull your infant up.