The rush of emotion you experience the first time you see your baby is indescribable — love, relief, fear, and joy course through you in equal measures. The experience almost can't be explained in words, but these photos of dads meeting their babies for the first time capture the ecstasy and intensity of birth. You have to see the sacred bond of father and child to really understand it.
It's worth noting that there is a marked difference in the experience between being the parent who is physically giving birth, and the one who is standing by — there's an extra layer of anticipation and helplessness for the latter. Many fathers have reported experiencing immense awe from watching their partner give birth, while others were overcome with fear during the process. Most are overwhelmed in some capacity by the love they feel once their child is in their arms, struggling to find words for the moment they met their child.
These images, many of which were submitted to the 2019 Birth Becomes Her Photo Contest, highlight the beautiful and powerful relationship between father and child from the moment the newborn enters their life, providing visual proof of the instant connection when words fail.
1. Pure Joy
This photo, captured by Alyssa Kapnik Samuel, shows a new father cradling his baby and grinning as widely as he can. The new dad's overwhelming happiness is contagious.
2. Finally, Finally
Submitted by the photographers at Fox Valley Birth and Baby, this stunning image captures the moment a couple meets the baby they had via surrogate. The father cradles his partner and child, looking at them both with utter adoration. It's clear the couple has been waiting for this moment for a long time, and the dad's love is plain on his teary face.
3. Tearful & Tired
Just seconds after this baby was born, the hospital team laid this child on his mom's chest, with his dad looking at his child with tears in his eyes as documented by Lisa Lord of Lilo Photography. It's a euphoric photo of family bonding, and the father's tenderness emanates.
4. Papa Bear
In this photo also captured by Lisa Lord, a father watches over his son as he gets an oxygen treatment just after his birth. Dad wants to be with his little one while doctors treat him, staying by his side as he adjusts to the world.
5. Love At First Sight
The emotion is palpable in this shot by Ashley of Hello BéBé Full Spectrum Birth Services, where a father looks at his child while his partner holds their new baby just seconds after he or she came into the world. The dad seems close to tears as he angles his body towards his family, and everything about the image conveys how much love this couple has for their little bundle.
6. First Kiss
This sweet photo, taken by Lisa Lord, highlights a private moment between father and son just minutes after he was born. Dad gently kisses his baby's fingers, treating him with the utmost care while hospital staff cleans him up. Their faces are turned towards one another, love flowing between father and son.
7. Skin To Skin
Heather Mohr of Heather Mohr Photography captured a father holding his child seconds after he was born via surrogate. The dad presses his son to his chest in the image for the child's first experience with skin-to-skin contact, and the father is solely focused on bringing his baby as close to him as possible.
8. That Loving Look
This photo, taken by Crawford Morris of Clayton and Rose Photography, marks a father's first time holding his child, and everything about the photo indicates he's totally enamored with his little one. He cradles the baby in his arms, gazing at them with a mesmerized smile.
9. Snuggle Sesh
We see a quiet embrace between father and child after a homebirth in this picture taken by Crawford Morris. The pair appear to be in their own world, with dad holding the baby to his chest underneath a blanket. His eyes are closed, as if he's doing all he can to soak in life with his baby.
10. The Big Moment
This photo, captured by Norma Hess of Norma Hess Photography, shows a father seeing his child comes into the world. The father looks on as the baby breathes in the world, and his outstretched arms show how much he already wants to have his child close to him.
11. Utter Amazement
This dad appears equally stunned and ecstatic as he looks at his newborn and his partner in this shot taken by Anabel Acuña. Mom holds the baby while dad gazes at them both, an exhausted smile capturing the rush of emotions that comes when your baby finally arrives in the world.
This intimate photo, taken by Norma Hess Photography, displays a mother and father watching their newborn baby boy as he breastfeeds for the first time. The father holds his child in one hand and his partner's head in the other, bringing himself as close as possible to them both as they bond as a family.
13. Proud Is An Understatement
Although his face is covered by a medical mask, you can tell this dad is grinning while holding his child up to the camera in this image captured by Jessica Worland. That is one proud papa.
14. Right Where You Belong
A father and child have their first bonding session in this photo, captured by Crawford Morris, while mom gets cleaned up after a homebirth. The infant rests on dad's chest for that crucial skin-to-skin contact, and dad gazes at his baby and strokes their cheek. Every gesture indicates love and care.
15. There You Are
Dad and baby literally reach for each other in this photo captured by Erin Fortney. At this moment, dad only has eyes for his newborn.
16. A Helping Hand
Rebecca Edmonson photographed the moment a father helped bring his baby into the world in this gorgeous shot.
17. First Hug
A dad holds his baby in this image captured by Crawford Morris, with mom looking on lovingly at the pair. Dad presses his chest against the baby's and his face against the baby's head. Parental warmth emanates.
18. Hello Baby!
In this photo taken by Kayla Gonzales of Austin Birth Photos, a father cheers as his partner brings their baby into the world. He has his mouth open in happiness and amazement, his arms are stretched wide as if he's trying to make room in the world for his little one, and his eyes are locked on the new baby.
19. Nose Nuzzles
A father presses his nose against his daughter's in Vanessa Mendez's intimate photo, snuggling close to her just after she has been born. His face is hidden in hers, but his love is on display nonetheless.
20. Cradled Close
Daniela Justus gives us the opportunity to witness the exact moment a family comes together in this picture taken just seconds after birth. Dad wraps both his baby and his partner in his arms, smiling into them both in an expression of utter relief.
21. Holding On
Clayton and Rose documented a dad comforting his baby in this image. The father holds his daughter's hand while she gets her footprints printed, appearing to coo at her while he leans over her with a protective arch in his back. The photo is shockingly emotional, with the dad's tenderness bared for the viewer to see.
22. Eskimo Kisses
A parent presses his nose to his baby's following a C-section in this image by Kandyce Joeline of Songbird and Oak Photography. His hands wrap around the baby gently, and you can sense the smile that hides behind his medical mask. Dad holds the baby against mom's chest so she can stay close despite not being able to move from the operating table.
23. Bringing Up Baby
This dad is literally bringing his child into the world, helping his partner complete their home birth by pulling the baby out of the birth canal. He watches his new baby and partner with an attentive eye, basking in the moment his family comes together. Hannah Hill captured the gorgeous image.
You couldn't miss the joy in this photo by Brianne Sanders Photography if you tried. Dad seems to be almost crying out in ecstasy that their baby has arrived. His sweetly closed eyes add to the shot.
25. Chest To Chest
In this photo taken by Ashley Grimes, a new dad holds his little one close to him just seconds after the baby is born, with the umbilical cord still attached to the placenta. The baby is resting on dad's chest and hasn't even been cleaned up yet, but dad doesn't mind, a look of disbelief and joy on his face. He looks like he could stay in that position for as long as the world would let him.
26. All Wrapped Up
Kendra Miller snagged this sweet shot, where we see a baby wrapped in a towel and their dad's arms. Dad presses his face close to the bundle he's holding.
27. Locked In
Dad has reached out to hold his baby's head as both parents gaze at the newborn in this photo, courtesy of Rebekah Nathan.
28. There You Go, Dad
A mom hands off the baby to dad just after birth in this image, taken by Rachel of Pink Moon Birth Photography. Her hands are outstretched to place the baby in his arm's, and dad's arms wrap around the baby in a protective embrace. It's parental bliss.
29. Overwhelmed With Love
Kirstie Perez captures the all encompassing emotion that comes when you bring a child into the world in this photo, revealing the emotional father seeing his baby in the background of the shot. His hand is raised to his mouth and he appears to be crying, overcome as he sees his baby for the first time.
30. Here's Looking At You, Kid
You can feel the bond forming between dad and baby in this image captured by Mosaic Birth Stories. The newborn is pressed against dad's chest with a blanket wrapped over them both, and dad looks at his little one with a smile that seems to come from within. It's a calm moment of love after the chaos of birth.
31. Thank You
Crawford Morris documented the moment a mother raised their child to her partner following her water birth, and dad's gratitude and affection pour out of him. He has an arm wrapped around his partner and the other on his baby's back, with his face pressed against his partner's consumed by emotion.
Edit note: This post has been updated to correct the photography credit in image #12.