These award-winning photos from the 2017 International Association of Professional Birth Photographers prove that childbirth is a beautiful and life-changing experience, no matter what the circumstances.
That said, it's also raw, messy, and very, very real! Nudity, bodily fluids, blood, and placentas (gasp!) are all to be expected. If that's not up your alley, you might want to sit this one out. But if you want to see the power, determination, and beauty of childbirth, you've come to the right place.
First place winner went to this photo of a mom in the front seat of a car. She's one tough cookie!
Read More: She Prayed She Was Wrong, But This Mom Knew She'd Never See Her Baby Grow Up
This mom, whose photo won best in the category of labor, is also clearly a warrior. As a wise midwife once told me, "Your body will take you to the limit of what you can handle, but never beyond."
If you're wondering why anyone would want to go through the pain of childbirth, this winning postpartum photo says it all. Just look at that adorable little face!
Best in birth details is my personal favorite photo and story. After five miscarriages, this mom delivered a healthy rainbow baby, despite the risk of a detached placenta. For once, she says she got to "cry tears of joy instead of sorrow."
Along with the winners were many equally stunning honorable mentions. This one was aptly named "Joyful Finale."
Although this father had three brain surgeries in the weeks leading up to the birth of his son, the hospital made special accommodations for him to leave ICU and attend the birth. His story is one that will definitely tug at your heartstrings.
Is this little girl apprehensive about being a big sister or wistfully planning all the awesome stuff they're going to do together? With three little sisters of my own, I'm going with the latter.
Twins are always such a beautiful blessing! I love that this photo was named "Three's Not A Crowd."
This dad has a whole new appreciation for his partner's tummy after meeting their baby.
Not many of us are stars before taking our first breath! Look at all those hands stretched out to meet this child. That's a lot of love.
This child also made a grand underwater entrance.
Whether natural or with the help of an epidural, at home or in the hospital, IVF or good old-fashioned sperm meets egg, childbirth is a beautiful thing to witness!
If you'd like to see more of the winning photos, click here. And be sure to share these amazing images with your friends and family!