[Warning: This story contains images some may find confronting, including images of natural birthing processes and stillbirth.]

There’s nothing quite as magical as when a baby is born. The marvel of humanity that connects us all. The wonder of life that speaks of a higher power. That juncture when a mum comes face-to-face with the child that had been growing inside of her.

Capturing such raw and emotional moments by the right photographer can create memories that last a lifetime. Every year, the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers (IAPBP) celebrate that with an annual birth photography image competition.

The IAPBP birth photography competition

The birth photography awards has been running for 14 years and showcases the best of the best in birth photos.

In 2024, there were six main categories photos were judged in:

  • Best Overall First Place
  • Best Overall Birth Details
  • Best Overall Labour
  • Best Overall Delivery
  • Best Overall Postpartum
  • Best Overall Hardship & Loss

Each category also featured three additional subcategories:

  • Black & White
  • Documentary
  • Fine Art

The winners are images that are not only filled with story, emotion and detail, but taken with expert technical precision.

2024 birth photography awards winners

Here are some of the winners of this year’s birth photo competition.

Best overall first place

An exciting moment during a caesarean birth when the baby reaches out, grabbing the doctor’s finger.

“Holding hands” by Nora Dalmasso (Argentina)

Best overall birth details

Golden hour! The first lap! Bonding, food and affection during the twins’ first breastfeeding, as soon as they were born.

“Ponte Entres os Mundo” (Bridge between the worlds) by Luma Braz (Brazil)

Best overall postpartum

After a beautiful c-section, the belly is being closed, mum is feeling fine and dad is getting to know his baby girl.

“A whole story in one image” by Jessica Innemee (Netherlands)

Best overall hardship & loss

A grandmother holds her grandchild, born sleeping, while looking at her son. She feels the pain of missing her grandchild and also carries the pain of her child losing his baby.

“Generation lost” by Kyra Wijnhausen (United States)

Best overal labour

In this striking black and white image, we witness the profound and transformative moments as a mother steps into a birth pool during labour. . . . Through this captivating composition, we are reminded of the inherent beauty and power of childbirth. It is a testament to the mother’s resilience, courage and ability to embrace the unknown. . . . It serves as a tribute to the incredible strength and grace exhibited by mothers during childbirth, as they navigate the depths of their own being to bring new life into the world.

“Relax, soften, open” by Chinelle Rojas (United States)

Best birth details: Documentary

A beautiful calm breech birth. They expected her bum to come first, but whoop, there were two little feet!

“Feet first” by Jessica Innemee (Netherlands)

Best delivery: Black & white

A repeat c-section, done on mum’s terms. The drape dropped when her baby boy came into the world into the hands of the team she chose and trusted. She got to announce it was a boy and she felt the empowerment of her birth. Even though her baby boy was delivered into their hands and not pulled into the world by hers, she still felt the empowerment of her decisions and choices in a hard situation.

“Into their hands” by Lauren Maggi (United States)

Best delivery: documentary

For this photo, you have to look twice to see what’s happening. The mother is giving birth on her hands and knees, and the baby’s head has just been born. Without the mirror, I couldn’t have captured this moment.

“Reflections of birth” by Settia Tin (Netherlands)

Best postpartum: Black & white

Upon meeting their sister, the two daughters continue breastfeeding tandem, an act of surrender, completeness and connection between mother and daughters!

“Hello my little sister” by Karoline Saadi (Brazil)

Best postpartum: Documentary

After having a surprise birth in the bathroom, Mum got into the birthing pool to relax and enjoy her first moment with her baby. Dad was infatuated with his baby boy and reached down to touch his hands. Their son then grabbed his finger and it was the perfect peaceful moment in the starry abyss of lights.

“Nebula of love” by Colleen Murtha (United States)

Members’ choice best overall first place

A father and a grandfather bearing the unbelievable weight of grief and loss.

“The weight of loss” by Kyra Wijnhausen (United States)

Members’ choice best birth details

I love how this mum paused to admire and appreciate the beauty of the sac that protected her baby for nine months. The baby boy was born en caul, coming into the world with the sac over his head and right into his mother’s arms.

“Beyond the veil” by Julie Francom (United States)

Members’ choice best labour

A show of support during labour.

“Power couple” by Larissa van de Geer (Netherlands)

Members’ choice best postpartum

Sam, this beautiful doggy, had spent the whole evening by his mama’s side as she laboured. He even sat next to the birth pool, with the occasional cry and woof but mostly resting his head on the pool as he sensed the shift in the atmosphere. As this beautiful baby arrived, acceptance was instant with sniffs and kisses. As his mama lay on the settee with his new big sister just after delivering the placenta, I turned around to find him looking with so much love at his newest family member. It was a split second moment but in that second the amount of love in those eyes was so palpable I almost cried on the spot!

“True love” by Sophie Bailey (United Kingdom)

Read next

For more birth photos, check out the IAPBP website.

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