A viral news story recently made the rounds, allegedly showing an outrageous exchange between an expectant mother and a birth photographer who refused to work with her on the grounds that “a surgery isn’t birth.”
Though the account wasn’t confirmed ― and the mother deleted the post from her Facebook page ― it certainly made waves among birth photographers, professionals who spend their days capturing the precious early moments between moms and their babies, and all the hard work that comes before.
Birth Becomes Her, a birth photography blog and community, quickly issued a reply in the form of a stunning collection of C-section photos that show A) birth photographers most definitely respect cesarean births and B) C-section moms are strong as hell.
“It was particularly shocking to hear that someone who calls herself a birth photographer would say something so damaging and untrue,” Monet Nicole, co-founder of Birth Becomes Her, said in an e-mail to The Huffington Post. “When rumors began to surface that the text message exchange might not have been true, we felt even sadder ... we just want all women to know that we love and celebrate cesarean births just as much as any other.”
Here are 26 gorgeous images from Birth Becomes Her that provide a glimpse of just how powerful and moving C-section births can be ― with captions from the photographers.
"This is a shot from my first time photographing a C-section with the use of a clear drape. The mom was able to lean her head up and watch her son being born. I was able to capture this moment just after. It takes a lot for me to say I have a new favorite, but there is so much beauty in this 1/200th of a second. I intentionally didn't crop out the bottom, as it tells a more complete story of this sweet boy's birth. The mom's hands are gently cradling her baby; the baby's hands are reaching for the comfort of the one who gave him life; the dad's reassuring hand can be seen coming into frame and the doctor's hands are below, caring for the mom. Each of these hands is doing their best to care for someone. This is love. This is birth."
"Birth is defined as the emergence of a baby or other young being from the body of its mother; the start of life as a physically separate being. A C-section is not less beautiful, not less emotional and does not make you less of a mother or father."
"The reactions of mamas meeting their children for the first time is precious and priceless, regardless of how the baby is born."
The Sophia Co
"After hours and hours at nine centimeters, with the head engaged, this family opted to meet their baby boy via cesarean."
"This mama labored for so very long in hopes of a VBAC. From her previous birth, she was convinced her body would have trouble progressing past five centimeters. She rocked it -- all the way to 10 -- then had a uterine rupture and birthed her baby via cesarean. Her birth was beautiful. Life saving, life giving—beautiful."
Birth Is Beautiful - Captured by Ina
"Some of the most beautiful, sacred and emotional moments I've ever documented have bee captured during Cesarean births."
"All births are amazing and worthy of documenting. Whether they are cesarean, planned or emergent, whether they are vaginal, breech or otherwise, whether they involve additional intervention like forceps or suction, or whether they occur in water, in a car, or in a field.... all birth is incredible, all birth is a journey worth documenting and worth being in utter awe of."
"And suddenly, she looks up and sees the love of her life."
"As a cesarean mama myself, I know the emotions that may go along with the experience, especially if it was not what a mom was planning. I will say this, C-section moms are fierce. The bravery it takes to lay there and be cut open for the sake of your baby is nothing short of amazing."
"Seeing their baby for the very first time. Beautiful!"
"This was a planned, repeat cesarean for a mama whose baby had anencephaly
. She waited until the right time to plan her cesarean so that her baby could be born alive and donate organs. And that exact plan happened because of her cesarean."
"This baby girl was born after her mom stalled at seven centimeters, having contractions every one to two minutes for five-plus hours."
"This was my sister's birth. After three hours of pushing, she consented to having a cesarean birth. This moment made it all worth while."
"Waiting patiently for mama to get out of recovery. Sometimes a C-section is not the plan, but it's birth, and it's beautiful!"
Fox Valley Birth and Baby
"If this isn't bringing forth new life, then I don't know what is!"
"A family-centered cesarean birth."
"This mom told me: 'When I was suddenly and unexpectedly diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia at 35 weeks, the doctor wanted to begin the induction process immediately. I weighed the risks and ultimately requested to have a cesarean. I feel empowered by my choice, and I'm grateful we are both safe and healthy. I'm thankful that the hospital staff accommodated my wishes and we had a gentle, family-centered cesarean, which included delayed cord clamping and skin-to-skin in the OR."
"A very unexpected C-section, but this Mama said at the end of the day, she got her healthy baby."
"Within minutes of entering the OR, this mother birthed and met her beautiful baby girl surrounded by a team that loved her, cared for her, and genuinely had her, her husband’s and their baby’s best interests in mind. She gave birth. Period."
"Their little one was diagnosed with mosaic trisomy 13 [a rare chromosomal condition]. They had no idea how long he might live. His first cry was the most powerful thing."
Kimberlin Gray Photography
"Skin-to-skin after their Cesarean birth."
"Such bliss. All birth is beautiful."
"In one blurry moment, your soul can feel both pride and shame, wonder and fear, love and pain ... this is the welcoming into motherhood, an unpredictable journey that shouts, 'buckle your seatbelt, this is going to be a wild ride!'"
"This mommy has her much anticipated rainbow baby, safe in her arms."
"Mama and baby enjoying their first moments together, skin-to-skin in the operating room."
"Recovering together after a cesarean birth."
Captions have been edited and condensed.