New to Bounty?
Birth photographer, Monet Nicole Moutrie from Denver, Colorardo in the U.S. has been photographing child birth for the last eight years. In this incredible series of powerful photos she captures the joy, relief, love and sheer exhaustion that women feel in the first moments that they hold their newborn babies.
Photography by Monet Nicole. Republished with full permission
Monet became a birth photographer after witnessing and photographing her older sister’s last birth. After three hospital births, Monet's sister decided to give birth at home and invited Monet to watch the process from start to finish. "I didn’t have children of my own, and I was mesmerized by what the female body was capable of."
Explaining how she began photographing childbirth Monet explains it was seeing her nephew enter the world. "Taking photos of my sweet nephew’s first few hours of life was immensely rewarding. From that point forward, I knew I wanted to move into the realm of birth photography."
When asked about why she enjoys most about photographing childbirth Monet explains there's always plenty of surprises. "Each birth is completely unique. Although births do tend to follow a pattern, they always manage to surprise us! When I get called to a birth, I know there are a thousand different possibilities. The variety is incredible and makes each birth just as exciting as the first one I shot."
Mother & Baby asked Monet what she loves the most about capturing these precious moments in people's lives.
"I love watching the strong and brave work my clients do. There is nothing more moving then seeing a mother labor and toil and then finally hold her beloved child in her arms. Both the pain and the joy are unmatched."
Monet explains that when photographing births she tries to capture the small moments.
"The gentle touch of a partner, a baby’s first attempt at opening his/her eyes."
But it's not just the emotion of birth that Monet tries to capture with her photos. She's not afraid to document the true events as each baby is born.
"I also love capturing the actual birth. Some birth photographers shy away from crowning shots but I love them. I think they are just as beautiful and important as any others."
When asked to descibe childbirth, Monet sums it up best with three simple words.
"Transformative. Empowering. Beautiful."
So after witnessing birth after birth for the last eight years, does the miracle of a baby being born lose it's impact? Monet's short answer is 'no'.
"Each story is unique and powerful. I find myself in tears when I’m editing images because I’ll look back and find all these small little moments that almost slipped away. There is no posing in birth photography. There is no direction. I simply capture what unfolds. And I find that each birth is just as magical as the last one."
And what does Monet think about women after seeing so many bring life into the world?
"Women during childbirth are goddesses! They are connected to a power greater than us. It’s a wonder to behold."
Many of us don't witness childbirth, instead we participate in the birth of their own children. We asked Monet what it's like to stand back and witness this miracle objectively.
"The moment a child is born is electrifying. I can feel the energy dramatically shift in the room the moment that child comes up or out and into his or her mother’s arms."
Babies are brought into the world in many different ways. With vaginal births, water births, caesarean births and intervention-free births all thrown into the mix we asked Monet if she has a favourite that she enjoys capturing.
"Home births are special because you get to see a family in their natural environment. You watch them interacting with their animals, the special objects that bring them comfort. Home births are often darker, more quiet, and more intimate."
But Monet was quick to point out that hospital births are a wonderful experience to watch and capture also.
"Hospital births are beautiful too. Some of my most dramatic images are taken at hospital births. The crowning shots you can get at a hospital birth are often spectacular!"
And what about babies born via a caesarean section?
"C-section births brim with beauty too. It’s incredible to watch a baby reach up and out into the world…to see the look on his parents’ faces when he’s brought over to them."
Not every woman is able to have the birth experience that she hoped or planned for, and this can be disappointing for some mums. Monet's powerful photographs are able to illustrate that each of these births – regardless of whether they are vaginal or via a c-section – produce an emotional and joyous result.
"I share almost all of my birth stories (with client’s permission of course). I believe that we need to see images of women giving birth because it helps change our culture’s perception of the female body."
When asked which of her incredible birth photos is her favourite, Monet explained this is her pick.
"This one is very special to me. I think it captures what birth is like for many women…exhausting, rewarding, and beautiful. I love the way the cord rests on her belly and the look of relief on her face."
Of course not all of Monet's birth images capture the joy of the post-birth cuddle. Many of her photographs and blog posts feature the the raw and gory reality of what a woman's body looks like as she delivers her child.
"I definitely push the envelope, but I refuse to allow these images and representations of womanhood to be censored. I think this is one reason that people have been drawn to my work. I also am a writer, and I love sharing both visual and written expressions about birth."
Monet's work is incredible. The intense emotions she captures in these raw moments are amazingly powerful.
To see a mother hold her brand new baby in her arms for they very first time after a marathon of a childbirth – and the emotion that goes with it – is a remarkable thing.
The relief, exhaustion, joy and instant love parents feel at our children's birth is an absolute life highlight. And to have that moment captured and treasured for a lifetime is a wonderful gift.
See more of Monet's births photography at her website: Monet Nicole