Powerful photos show the raw reality of giving birth

This photograph took third place in the Birth Photographer International Image Competition (Picture: Diana Hinek/Caters News)

These powerful photos show what giving birth is really like – beyond the cute moments of babies all clean, bundled up in blankets, and cuddling up to their mums.

The photos have been crowned the best in the world in this year’s Birth Photographer International Image Competition (or BPIIC, for short), a contest founded by Lacey Barratt as a way to further legitimise the art of birth photography.

Lacey, 33, from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, has been a passionate birth photographer for 10 years and was one of fourteen experienced judges to pick the winners of the competition.

First place was awarded to Renate Van Lith, from Amsterdam, Netherlands, second place was presented to Jenna Nord from Montana, USA, and third place was granted to Diane Hinek, from California, USA.

But with 216 entries snapped by birth photographers from around the world – including Brazil, Portugal, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand – Lacey felt it was important to showcase all of the top images of the competition.

Mum-of-five Lacey said: ‘It was important to host a competition because there are so many other incredible competitions in the world, but they are not specific to birth photographers.

‘So we often get lumped in with documentary, photojournalism, and wedding documentary categories.

A very modern moment in the arrival of a baby (Picture: Sarah Lentz/Caters News)

‘Judging and comparing a birth image with a wedding photo are just two completely different ends of the spectrum.

‘So to have a panel of judges trained specifically in birth photography was paramount to the legitimacy of such a prestigious award.

‘I personally love how birth heals a bad birth and prolongs the joy of a good birth.

‘Our work is so paramount to birthing people, because it allows them to take charge of their emotional autonomy even though our physical autonomy may have been taken from us.

‘When we view our images, we get to choose how we feel about them. And that is powerful in itself.’

Renate Van Lith, who took this image, won the competition (Picture: Renate Van Lith/Caters News)
Renate submitted a number of photos (Picture: Renate Van Lith/Caters News)
Look at that joy (Picture: Renate Van Lith/Caters News)
Another of Renate’s winning photos (Picture: Renate Van Lith/Caters News)
What a photo (Picture: Renate Van Lith/Caters News)
Lisa, from the US, submitted this photo of a water birth (Picture: Lisa Phillips/Caters News)
Hayden Trace, also from the US, won praise for this image of twins being born (Picture: Hayden Trace/Caters News)
A look of pure love (Picture: Karissa Gray/Caters News)
Jenna Nord took second place for this photograph (Picture: Jenna Nord/Caters News)
Doesn’t this baby look peaceful? (Picture: Cait Sumner/Caters News)
Elation (Picture: Rianna Cross/Caters News)
That first cry (Picture: Laura Brink/Caters News)
A snapshot of giving birth amid coronavirus (Picture: Charlene Foerster/Caters News)
Childbirth isn’t just the happy moments afterwards (Picture: Hayley Edgar/Caters News)
The road can be long (Picture: Gabby Del Pio/Caters News)
These photos capture the pain, the patience, and the joy (Picture: Hannah Paulsen/Caters News)
Lacey thinks it’s important to show the raw details of childbirth (Picture: Payton Reper/Caters News)
And to honour the art of birth photography (Picture: Regina Martin/Caters News)
The results are amazing (Picture: Amber May/Caters News)
Through all the pain and time, the arrival of a baby makes it all worth it (Picture: Bianca Macauley/Caters News)

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