In our humble opinions, childbirth is one of the more magical experiences the universe has to offer. New life entering the world inspires hope for a brighter future and, even if momentarily, helps us forget about the less-than-stellar parts of adulthood, like politics and deadlines. Yet, far too often, childbirth is something we keep locked up from the outside world as if it’s somehow dirty or wrong. For as much as we love to see cute, snuggly newborns on Instagram, we don’t always appreciate the hours of labor that brought them here. But maybe — just maybe! — getting an inside look into the birthing process could change that. Enter the beautiful world of childbirth photography, in which professionals capture the grittiest, rawest, and most remarkable moments during labor and delivery.
If it sounds like we’re your eighth-grade sex-ed teachers trying to scare you into abstinence, we’re not. Instead, there’s so much childbirth photography can teach people about the utter beauty of birth, whether it happens unmedicated in a bathtub or an operating room during a cesarean section (C-section).
“Birth photography is such an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to mothers processing their birth stories,” Lauren Jolly, Winston-Salem Birth Photographer, tells SheKnows over email. “I think my favorite part of my job is delivering a gallery of images to a mom so they can see their strength, support, and love — it’s magical to be able to see that in photo form. I also love being able to share birth, in all its forms, with the world.” Jolly adds that “normalizing birth for women in our society is so important.”
Ahead, we’ve compiled some of the most captivating images that show what childbirth really looks like.
A version of this article was originally published in October 2016.