Having confidence in your birthing team can make all the difference during labor. Trusting the people who will bring your child to the world safely alleviates a huge amount of stress, which is why people choose their doctors and doulas with such care. But the person you made a baby with is also a critical part of your team, which is why these photos of dads supporting their partners during birth are so heartwarming.
Old adages about dads waiting with a cigar while their partners give birth or fainting in the delivery room still exist, but expectations of the role dads play during birth have majorly shifted in recent years, with more and more women expecting their partners to play an integral part in their birth process. Simple tasks like holding your hand during contractions or helping you remember that Lamaze class breathing seem small but feel huge during the moment, as can the emotional support from a partner specifically. They're the person you're going to raise this child with, so reminders from them that you can do it as you push are extra meaningful.
So read on for some moving pictures, which were submitted to the 2019 Birth Becomes Her Photo Contest, that capture the kind of support dads can give their partners during birth. (And maybe have some tissues ready.)
1. Helping Hand
A laboring mother lies on her side in a hospital bed, turning her head upward. She seems to be in pain, her eyes closed and mouth open. Dad is right there with her, resting one hand on her shoulder and the other on her belly. His eyes are on mom. Photo by Desire to Inspire Photography.
2. Nose To Nose
This couple literally leans on one another as they bring their child into the world in Dora Barens Geboortefotografie's photo. Mom and dad are in a birthing tub, sitting across from one another. They lean their faces together so their noses are touching, with the sun shining through behind them. Anticipation and love color the shot.
3. Support System
Dad has mom's back during labor in this shot by Danica Donnelly Photography. Mom is in a birthing tub, leaning back against her partner, who sits on the edge of the tub with his head bent down. Dad rests his hands on her shoulders and kisses his partner's head. Both have their eyes closed, lost in the intimacy of the moment.
4. Holding You Up
As she crowns, this dad does everything he can to support his partner. In Kayla Reeder's photo, mom lies on a bed, turned slightly to the side as she starts to give birth. Dad has an arm wrapped around her shoulders, and his other holds her leg up to help clear the baby's path. Mom holds onto him for support, crying out. Dad's eyes are on the baby coming into the world.
5. I've Got You
In this photo by Jessica Samyn, dad holds up mom as she powers through the difficulty of childbirth. They're in a hospital room, standing near the bed. Mom is hunched over, covering her mouth in discomfort. She leans on dad, who wraps his arms around her. He closes his eyes, as if he's trying to absorb some of her pain.
Dad's got his eyes on laboring mom in this photo by Hanna Hill Photography. She sits against a wall, holding onto a curtain with her eyes closed. He leans over her, cupping her face with his hands and bending his head towards her. You can almost hear him whispering words of encouragement.
7. Let's Do This
Mom is the focus of this shot, taken by Samantha Noel Photography, but dad stands by her, doing all he can to cheer her on. She's sitting in a hospital bed with her legs spread, her face contorted in pain. Dad presses a washcloth to her forehead, looking down to check the baby's progress. He's in it with her.
8. Holding On
Jen Conway captured vulnerability in this birth photo. Mom kneels on the floor, with her arms on her partner's shoulders and her mouth open in pain. Dad puts his hands on her back, and his head is buried into her shoulder, out of sight. She knows he's there for her.
9. You've Got This
Dad cheers on his birthing partner in this picture by Kelly Jayne Photography. She's giving one of the final pushes of labor, and you can see the baby's head between her raised legs. Her eyes are closed as she focuses, but dad's are wide open. He stands next to her, holding one of her leg's up and gripping her hand in the other. His mouth is open too, either to say words of encouragement or in awe.
10. What Do You Need?
Mom's discomfort shines through in this shot, taken by Birth Moments Photography, but so does dad's support. Mom sits in her hospital bed, with her head arched back in pain. Dad's gaze is locked on her from where he sits next to her, and he grips her hand tightly. He leans towards her, trying to get closer.
11. We Got This
Birth Day Geboortefotografie captured one of the joyous moments of birth in this photo. Mom and dad are in birthing tub, leaning over the far side. Dad has an arm wrapped around his partner's back, and his face is tucked into her shoulder. He smiles, leaning close. Mom's face is hidden, but you can see a hint of her grin as well.
12. I'm Here
The stress of birth seems to be getting to this mom in Katie Gaeta's photo, but her partner is there for her. Mom sits on a toilet, covering her eyes in distress. Her partner sits in a shower nearby, reaching his hand across the sink to touch her. His eyes are locked on her, and he seems ready to jump up the second she needs him.
Here, we see a dad doing everything he can to help mom relax during birth. She's lying in a tub with her eyes closed and head tilted back, while a birthing staff team member pours water on her. Dad leans over her, sweetly tucking her hair behind her ear. His desire to be close is clear. Photo by Gabriella Hunt.
14. Lean On Me
A couple embraces in this photo by Lifetime of Clicks Photography, sticking by each other during childbirth. Mom sits on an elastic ball, angling forward to lean on her partner with her arms on his legs. He sits across from her, with one hand on her leg and the other on her head, which is tucked under his chin. He closes his eyes, breathing her in.
15. I'm With Her
Mom and dad seem to be handling the stress of labor together in this photo by Nicole Streeter Photography. They sit in bed together, with mom between dad's legs. Her head is thrown back as she cries out, and dad's head is over her shoulder. He looks at people on the other side of the room, a calm focus to his gaze.
16. Hold Onto Me
In Sevan Photography's shot, a dad holds his birthing partner up as she labors. She's on her knees in a birthing tub, bent over the side. Her partner kneels on the outside, gripping her arms. He'll keep her steady.
17. Here If You Need Me
Sometimes support is about giving someone the space they need, and that's the case in this photo, taken by Chiari Doveri. Mom is in a tub with her eyes closed and her hand together in prayer, her belly half submerged. Dad sits nearby, studying her. He seems patient, eager to do what she needs the moment she asks.
18. Look At Me
A dad-to-be watches his partner during their home birth in this shot by Lawren Rose Photography. She sits on the floor, resting against a bed, with her knees bent and eyes closed. He rests his hands on her legs, with his whole body leaned towards her. His anticipation emanates.
19. You're Doing Great
The exhaustion of birth seems to be getting to mom in this photo by Ashley Grimes Photography, but dad is there to lift her up. She's in a bathtub, leaning her head back and closing her eyes as one hand rests on her belly. Dad hovers over her, with his elbows on the tub and his hands cupping her chin from above. She holds her hand to his, keeping him close.
20. Quick Kiss
Dana Jacobs caught a moment of pure love during this couple's birth. Mom is on her side with her legs spread, as hospital staff presses a transducer for an ultrasound to her lower belly. Mom's face isn't visible, though, as dad takes up most of the shot. He has his hand and lips pressed to his wife's belly, kissing his partner and baby on the way.
21. So Close
Support is abundant in this photo by Deborah Glenn. A birthing mother leans against her partner, with a washcloth on her forehead and her eyes shut. He presses his cheek against hers, his lips grazing her chin. You can see sweat on them both, as the work of labor hits them. Dad will be with her every step of the way.
22. Group Effort
Dad reminds mom he's there for her with an embrace in Aly Renee's photo. She's standing near a window with her eyes closed, and she has one hand on the sill. Dad hugs her from behind, resting his chin on her shoulder and cupping her belly with one hand. Both close their eyes, soaking in the moment.
23. You Can Do It
The pain of labor overtakes this mom, but her partner keeps her steady. She's leaning against him with her eyes shut in a grimace. He seems to be holding her up, wrapping a towel around her and gripping her breasts. She pushes up in pain, and he presses his head to her neck to remind her she's not alone. Photo by Mamarazzi Photography.
24. I'm Here
This mom knows she can hold onto her partner when the going gets tough, during labor or any other time. She's standing in a hospital room, with her torso bent over her bulging belly. She buries her head in her partner's chest, who stands next to her. He inclines his head towards her body. Erica Montgomery captured the moment.
25. Keeping Watch
In this photo by Family Moments by Sharalynne, dad has his eyes locked on his partner. Mom is blurry in the front of the frame, and dad is clear behind her. He looks over her shoulder with a serious expression, keeping watch over her as she brings their child into the world.