20 Photos That Show The Incredible Strength It Takes To Give Birth

No matter the specific circumstances, childbirth is hard. It’s hard for the mother who is being hit with contraction after contraction, fighting to catch her breath; it’s hard for the mom who is barely hanging on as she waits for her epidural; it’s hard for the mother quietly composing herself under the bright lights of the OR, waiting for her C-section to start; and it’s hard for the mama working to keep calm as she brings her preterm baby into the world sooner than she’d planned.

And yet the strength that women find and tap into during childbirth ― a time when they’re at their most vulnerable, and when so much is at stake ― is incredible, full stop.

Here, 43 talented birth photographers share moments they’ve captured that show the truly awesome strength of women in childbirth.

  • Sometimes strength comes in pairs. These friends — twice mistaken for sisters by the hospital staff — were silently intertwined throughout this mom’s labor as she brought her rainbow baby into the world.
  • I felt such a connection with this mother when I took this photograph. I thought that woman all over the world would look at it and say, “Yes. I was there once. Stay strong!”
  • This mom labored for many days, off and on, but never lost her endurance, positivity and humor. I know she will use the strength she pulled from labor in the years to come as she navigates motherhood and all of its obstacles.
  • This mama worked hard to birth her baby into the water, with the father and her midwife there to support her.
  • This mama worked through a “precipitous” (meaning, an extremely fast, extremely intense) labor to bring her third child into the world. Two minutes after this photo was taken, her baby was born into her father’s hands.
  • This mom gets a quiet, supportive touch from her son as she works through a contraction.
  • After a devastating stillbirth, Kara underwent surgeries and treatments to enable her to carry a child full term.
  • This mom was getting out of the tub, then had a contraction that immediately brought her to the floor. Her husband was right there through it all giving her support.
  • This mom was induced, early, and although the intensity of her contractions rolled over her incessantly in waves, she roared her baby out into the world at 36 weeks. I will remember her vulnerability and strength forever.
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    This mother’s firstborn held her tight as she breathed through a contraction. You can feel her strength enveloping them both in this moment.
  • During each contraction, this mother listened to what her body told her to do — moving, breathing and even laughing her baby out.
  • This mother had a very fast labor and birth with her second baby, so we all expected this third baby to just kind of “fall out.” Instead, she endured weeks and weeks of intense prodromal labor that kept starting and stopping much to her frustration. She then labored through the night and into the following afternoon before her baby girl finally arrived — and was born en caul! It was a gorgeous day with a lot of happy tears.
  • This strong mama stays focused with calming music in her ears. I love her tattoo. She also had one on her foot saying, “Just breathe.” This was her fifth pregnancy and the first baby she and her partner got to take home. A true rainbow baby!
  • I wholeheartedly believe that women do not know their true level of strength until they’ve given birth, however they do it.
  • This mother showed so much strength as she endured over 11 hours of labor, which included hours of pushing. Her wonderful doula gave her a scarf wrapped around the birthing bar to help with the pushing when she started getting too tired.
  • Supported by her doula, this mom rocked slowly back and forth through a contraction.
  • This mom took advantage of the rest breaks she got in between contractions.
  • This mamma labored so calmly and beautifully, laughing and talking during most of her labor. When it was time to push, she was focused and determined and worked through transition with so much strength and beauty.
  • This was “that moment” — the moment that almost every woman experiences in labor when she has that overwhelming feeling of “I can’t do this.”  As she was overcome by emotion, her husband comforted her and moments later she delivered this sweet baby. Even more amazing? This is a surrogate birth and the second baby she carried for an amazing mom and dad! They are beyond thankful for her strength.
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