Roughly one in three births in the United States is via C-section, many of which are performed at a moment's notice during true emergencies in order to keep mothers and babies safe. Even when they're less sudden -- when, say, a mother has a medical reason to schedule an operation ahead of time, or when her health care providers determine after hours of laboring that surgery is her best course of action -- C-sections tend to be viewed as a strictly medical affair. A hospital procedure, rather than an intimate, life-changing event.
In honor of Cesarean Awareness Month, we asked members of the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers to submit some of their favorite photos capturing the beauty and complexity of C-section birth, in all of its glory. Here, 15 photographers and families share their unique stories.
These accounts have been edited and condensed for length and clarity.