Becoming a mom and seeing your baby for the first time is one of the most hearts tugging moments that can be. You wait patiently for 9 months to see your baby, imagine different things and then suddenly, you are handed over your imagination in reality.
What did you feel in that moment? Was it love? Exhaustion? Gratitude? Were you relieved at the thought of what lay behind you? Overwhelmed by everything that suddenly stretched out down the path ahead?
It ranks right up there among life’s most remarkable events, that instant you first set eyes on the person who will change you forever, who will crack open parts of your heart you didn’t even know were there.
A group of wildly talented birth photographers have shared with us some of their own favorite photos showing that unforgettable first meeting between a mother and her child, and the powerful stories that led them to that moment.
"This mom had an incredibly long labor with her first at a hospital. She decided to have a home birth with her second and it was an entirely different experience. Her labor was quick and intense... the midwife barely made it through the door before her second daughter was born. This moment captures the joy of birth for me." (Photo by Monet Nicole)
"Because the labor and delivery unit was so busy, this first-time Momma had an incredible two hours of skin to skin immediately following birth. Baby boy was tucked in close on Momma's chest, so cozy she wouldn't dare mess with him to sneak a peek at his darling little face. The nurses told her they were going to take him to do all the routine checking and measuring when she mentioned that she really hadn't really taken him all in yet. This is the moment. This is the moment when she really looked at him. Recognition. Surprise. Joy! Love." (Photo by Marcy Harris Photos)
"Hannah's brother had been murdered in a home invasion several years ago. The tragedy is ultimately what brought her and her husband together, as he was a friend of her late brother. This birth was so many things, to so many people. There was unimaginable healing and happiness in this moment." (Photo by Ker-Fox Photography)
"This was mother's first time seeing her sweet son. At 33 weeks she was admitted to the hospital for a rare and often hard to detect condition called HELLP Syndrome. Two days later her son was born, thriving, but needing a little extra help. I was allowed to go back with her to see and touch him for the first time." (Photo by Ker-Fox Photography)
"It was a quiet moment, after all the hustle of the birth was over. Just mom and dad in the room and me to capture the moment. Mom had a moment to finally absorb her little miracle baby for the first time, all the fears were put to an end, she finally had her precious baby in her arms." (Photo by Yamile Branch Photography)
"This mom worked so hard for the birth of her third baby. The moment he came into the world, her joy and relief filled the room. She reached down, grabbed her baby and brought him up to her chest. A truly breathtaking moment." (Photo by Monet Nicole)
"After taking a quick nap, mom woke up to the news it was time to push. It couldn't have been more than two pushes later and her son came earth-side with a speedy quickness, so much so mom and dad barely had tome to realize what was happening. Joy, excitement, and gratitude washed over them both immediately." (Photo by Ker-Fox Photography)
"Mom and dad tried for many, many years for this little girl… It was so emotional and beautiful to witness." (Photo by Milk and Hannah Photo)
"Parents Craig and Stephanie, shown in the background, watching the birth of their third child via gestational carrier." (Photo by Shoots and Giggles Photography)
Mom is a NICU nurse, and here she was about to have a baby that would need short stay in special care. She was told at 32 weeks that she had low fluids, she and admitted for a couple of days, and ultimately discharged and put on bed rest. 2 weeks later it was decided it would be safer for baby to be born at 35 weeks. In this moment all of her fears and concerns melted away. He is here, he is healthy, and he is perfect." (Photo by Ker-Fox Photography)
"When I arrived she was already 9cm. The space was so incredibly calm. She laboured eyes closed and her breathing steady... we knew it was only a handful of contractions before she was going to meet her baby. It was in this moment she finally opened her eyes. Just in time to see his beautiful face and his little hand reaching up for her." (Photo by Ashley Marston Photography)
"I am so grateful to have been invited to take photos at this birth. Mom labored quickly and peacefully, and soon after getting in her birth tub pushed her baby into the water. The immediate feeling of relief and love washed over her, it was so beautiful to witness!" (Photo by Sabrina Rexing Photography)
"This was a so-called ‘gentle section.’ Directly after the baby is born they lay her on the mothers chest, so the bonding-process can start immediately. This couple was so ready to welcome their little girl into their lives, it was an honor to witness and document it for them." (Photo: FocusPocus Fotografie)
"There can be such triumph in birth. After 50 hours of labor, 5 weeks of baby being transverse, and two prior cesarean sections, this mama gave birth vaginally to her daughter. I could barely take photos through my tears of joy, as she reached for her baby and brought her to her chest. This was one of the most emotional births I've ever attended and I'm so grateful to be asked to photograph such a pivotal time in a families life." (Photo by Jennifer Mason Photography)
"This is the first time this new mama laid eyes on her new baby after a very intense emergency cesarean birth. She waited to see him until this beautiful moment, when I was able to capture it and she was able to finally hold him in her arms." (Photo by Lori Martinez Photography)
"This was my very first birth as a photographer and even the first time ever watching a woman give birth to her baby. I remember thinking in this moment 'women are so amazing!' This momma had kept the gender a surprise and her and her hubby were so excited to be welcoming their daughter into the world. This moment is what makes it all worth it. Every single complaint before just disappears and it's all worth it." (Photo by Honey Lime Photography)
"This is the moment the adoptive mom is holding her baby for the first time, as the birth mom looks on. Leslie and Michael had long battled fertility issues, and an equally painful journey through previous failed adoptions. This was the moment she became a mom. It's also the moment the baby's birth mom gifted her daughter the most selfless and unconditional act of love." (Photo by Ker-Fox Photography)
"The moment mama saw her second child for the very first time. She was flooded with emotion, relief, and love for her new son after enduring a painful pregnancy, and she recalls fondly that baby stopped crying when he was laid on her chest." (Photo by Angie Klaus Photo)
"Not only was I the photographer for this Christmas Day home, water-birth but the mama is my older sister. Watching her trust and give in to her body and fearlessly deliver my niece was a moment I will cherish forever. There was not a dry eye in the room during this moment. Being invited into a person's birth space is such a high honor." (Photo by Laura Fifield Photography)
"Seeing the pure emotion and expression of the parents at the first sight of their third child was truly, the best for this captured memory. If I had not already been made aware of this, this photograph would appear to me to be first-time parents." (Photo by Rachel Demand Photography)
"Karissa and Cory waited years for this special baby boy and having him in her arms where she could see and feel him brought strong feelings bubbling to the surface. Having the moment captured was priceless for this family, it's one Karissa says she still gets misty eyed over every time she sees it." (Photo by Serendipity Photography)
"Natalie (the mom) was incredibly nervous during the procedure. The moment before this was taken was a tense one with a mother worried about how her baby was and full of anxiety and excitement for meeting her son. The doctor got baby Connor out, immediately walked him around the sheet and the look of worry immediately turned to sheer shock at the size of this 10 pound baby boy! The look of total surprise was quickly replaced with tears of joy and relief. But this moment is one I'll never forget as it was the culmination of all of these things happening beyond this mom's control and finally there he was, this beautiful, massive healthy baby boy. The panic turned to elation and nerves became peace. It was a beautiful moment." (Photo by Elisabeth Kate Studio)
"Mom is a labor and delivery nurse herself, being cared for by the very people she works day in and day out. The look on the midwife's face shows the love she has for Sara Beth. She achieved a natural, and fully unmedicated delivery. Sara Beth progressed quickly towards the end, and with barely a push her daughter came out reaching for her mom! This was baby number 3 for this family, and goes to show the love and anticipation of the moment they are born doesn't diminish one bit with each birth." (Photo by Ker-Fox Photography)
"This family had two boys and was waiting until birth to find out the sex of the baby. This photo was taken right as dad said 'It's a girl' to mom." (Photo by Tavia Redburn Photography)
"This birth was really uplifting. It was her 2nd baby, and her husband was out of town training, so she just had her sweet baby at home in the water like it was nothing. She was so light and just focused on doing what she needed to do. Both her mother and her husband's mother were present and the energy of those happy grandmas was thrilling. I love this photo because it speaks to me about the depth of what goes through your mind when you realize your child is really here. Her face is set in such a wonder and satisfaction, but also concern and the knowledge that life is hard. I think all mothers wonder in that moment, 'Can I really do this?'" (Photo by Kelly O'Roke Photography)