Parents

21 Spectacular Photos That Give An Intimate Glimpse Of Home Birth

Wow.

Home birth is still rare in the United States -- national estimates suggest that less than 2 percent of all births take place outside of the hospital, a figure that includes birth centers -- which means that for many people, the very notion of planning to have your baby at home feels rather remote and mysterious.

But while there certainly is debate about the safety of planned home birth in this country, many of the women who choose it believe that it is absolutely the right decision for them.

We asked the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers for photos that help pull back the curtain on home birth in the U.S., and around the world. Here are 21 images that capture a bit of what it's like to deliver your child at home, with words from the photographers about the experiences.

1
"When I arrived at this family's home, I walked in to find the 2-year-old sound asleep on his mother's belly while she quietly worked through contractions that were only a few minutes apart. She told me that she found comfort in having her boys around her while she labored. They were a welcome distraction during contractions. After he woke up, they played until the mom suddenly couldn't talk through her contractions anymore and she felt the urge to push."
2
"Three members of the same family (including their not-quite-2-year-old) each in their own zone, waiting for their lives to be changed forever!"
3
"Sometimes women's labors aren't quick and it takes a while for the baby to descend. During her beautiful, peaceful, 23-hour-long labor, this mama went for a walk with her husband around their neighborhood. They made stops to focus and breathe through her powerful contractions."
4
"During this home birth, there was an overall sense of peace with both the mom and the dad-to-be. It was my first home birth I had photographed, and it was overwhelmingly beautiful. There were several moments were I had to take a pause to gather myself. It was simply the most beautiful experience for me as a photographer thus far."
5
"My client told me: 'Having a good support team during the 40 hours of my birthing process was the only thing that got me through.'"
6
"When women plan to have a home birth, she can really make the space special, from funny reminders and mantras, to putting out photos and creating a really special ambience."
7
"This was from an outside water birth about two hours outside of Manila, Philippines. The midwives spent almost two days with this mother whose labor would pick up and then stall again. They chose to try some exercises -- and they worked! Here, they're using the 'rebozo sifting technique.' The baby's name is 'Sinag,' which means ray of light. He was born under the light of the full moon."
8
"This couple welcomed their first child at home with the help of their midwife and her assistant. The mother labored throughout the day with love and care from her supportive husband, and then well into the night as well."
9
"This mom's labor was less than 30 minutes long. The midwives were setting out their medical equipment, her sisters were getting fresh towels ready, and she soaked in the tub and held on to her husband, tuning out all of the hustle and bustle."
10
"This mom was supposed to have a water birth, but she progressed so quickly she had to bear down on the living room coffee table. The baby was born shortly after."
11
"This recent home birth, in England, happened very quickly. I think I arrived about 20 minutes before the mother delivered -- only about an hour or so after she went into labor! Women are so strong when giving birth. It's so remarkable, yet largely goes unseen."
12
"This mother is powering through contractions as she packs and prepares to transfer to the hospital due to meconium. It turns out, her baby girl had everyone tricked. She was actually breech instead of head down."
13
"This mother, in Brazil, gave birth within hours. She caught her baby herself!"
14
"You just never know where in your home your baby decides it wants to be born. The living room floor is what this little girl chose!"
15
"This elated dad looks at the placenta and he and the midwife talk about how healthy it looks."
16
"This is right after this couple's baby was born and they found out they had a boy. They were overjoyed when they first heard their baby boy cry."
17
"She did it—and it's a boy! This was this mother's third baby, her first at home after two hospital births."
18
"This mother was a goddess in labor. She was fast and furious and had her second baby boy right on her bathroom floor. She was in complete bliss after because she knew she was strong and that her baby was here in a calm environment."
19
"I love the expression this mother had when she realized she did it! She delivered her 9-plus pound baby at home with the support of her kids and parents, as well as her doula and midwives. The baby's father, who is in the military, got to listen in throughout (and hear his third son's first cry) on a cell phone."
20
"This was my first home birth. The mom went into the bathroom and stayed in there with her husband and midwife, and had her baby in there. I remember afterwards, she apologized for kicking me out of the bathroom, but I completely understood. After, they did all of the vitals of the baby right there on the parent's bed. It was such a wonderful thing to experience!"
21
"This was a very fast home birth. In fact, this little lady was in such a hurry that I was only a few minutes away from missing the birth entirely! Just before I left them to settle in, I drew mama and baby an herbal bath to help slow things back down for them."
Quotes About Motherhood