16 award-winning photos capture what it's really like to give birth, from pain to pure joy

Micah Lynn Birth Stories/Birth Becomes HerA woman meets her newborn after an at-home water birth.
  • Birth Becomes Her, a resource for birth photographers, released the winners of its 2019 photo contest.
  • Founders Monet Moutrie and Jennifer Mason launched the contest in 2016 because, as they told INSIDER, “birth photography is some of the most powerful documentary photography in our world” and they wanted to “showcase the incredible work being produced around the world.”
  • Photo categories included postpartum, black and white, colour, out of hospital, hospital, and overall.
  • “We hope that these images help dispel fear,” Mason told INSIDER via email.


Editor’s note: This post contains graphic images of birth.

Over the past decade, birth photography has become a growing trend. In a 2012 piece for the New York Times, Elissa Gootman attributed the demand to “both a surge of interest in the experience of childbirth … and a greater desire to capture all of life’s moments.”

A year later, photographers Monet Moutrie and Jennifer Mason launched Birth Becomes Her, a resource for both professional birth photographers and parents-to-be. The website also hosts a yearly competition for birth photographers to “bring attention to birth images from around the world,” the founders said.

“Birth photography is some of the most powerful documentary photography in our world right now,” Mason told INSIDER via email.

Earlier this month, Moutrie and Mason released the winners of the 2019 Birth Becomes Her photo contest. Scroll through to see some of the images that took home awards in this year’s photography competition.


3rd place, postpartum

Moutrie and Mason launched the contest in 2016, though its initial intention was to highlight breastfeeding photo during World Breastfeeding Week.

“[We] branched out into a ‘labour’ contest after that. We loved showcasing these images so much, that we decided to have a big annual contest each year to bring attention to birth images from around the world,” Mason told INSIDER.


3rd place, black and white


3rd place, colour


3rd place, out of hospital


3rd place, hospital


2nd place, postpartum

During the contest’s first year, Mason said they only received a few hundred submissions. This year, they received over 1,200 submissions from North America, Australia, South America, Europe, and Africa.


2nd place, black and white


2nd place, colour


2nd place, out of hospital


2nd place, hospital


1st place, postpartum


1st place, black and white

Mason and Moutrie enlisted the help of a panel of judges who are “trailblazers in both the birth and photography communities” to select the winning photos.

Mason added that each image was judged on technical skill, creativity, emotional impact, and editing.


1st place, colour


1st place, out of hospital


3rd place overall


1st place overall

The winning photograph was captured by Sadie Wild Photography. When asked why it won, Mason said that “the unique lighting that fell on the mum’s face, coupled with her smile and sense of joy and relief made it a contest-winning image.”

The photos, however, aren’t just for the masses to enjoy. Mason told INSIDER that she hopes the photos make people “realise just how powerful and profound birth is.”

“We hope that more people approach birth with excitement and joy,” she said. “We hope that these images help dispel fear.”

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