Uncensored photos show the power and beauty of childbirth

Uncensored photos show the power and beauty of childbirth

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Award-winning birth photographer Kayla Gonzales admits that she's a childbirth junkie. This may explain why just one week after welcoming her fifth child, she was back at work, with her camera in hand and her newborn son snuggled against her chest, documenting another baby's unforgettable entrance into the world.

Despite having been witness to countless births through the years, the Austin, Texas-based photographer is still awe-struck by the beauty and power of labor, and that shows in her photos. Real, raw, stunning. And definitely not censored. This recent delivery, though, was particularly moving, as Kayla was still riding the postpartum waves of her own very recent experience.

"I was burning up wearing the baby (and Depends), shot the entire thing with my boob out (in his mouth or under his little sleeping head, calm down already), and was super hormonal," Kayla, mom to daughters Aria, Eden, Iris, Nova, and new son Foxe, admits in a recent Instagram post (@austinbirthphotos). "I was shaking and all kinds of weepy, I haven’t felt that many feels at someone else’s birth in a very long time! It was hard, I’ll admit. Hell, nearly anything at 7 days postpartum is hard!...But I mean, this moment right here? Bearing witness to this moment, for me, is 100% worth it. I have z e r o regrets!"

These images might be "too much" for some people. Too intense. Too messy. Too raw.

These images are exactly why I love birth photography.

Childbirth is intense. It is messy and yes, it’s usually painful. Pretending otherwise, or censoring pictures that show the truth of it, doesn't do anything to change that reality. All it does is keep us afraid.

I delivered my daughter in the hospital. As the contractions grew stronger, crashing through me, a nurse pointed to a mirror in the corner of the room and offered to bring it over to the bed. She was giving me the chance to watch my baby being born. I turned it down. I thought, Why on earth would I want to see that?

Looking back, I realize I was mostly just scared of what I might see. I had never witnessed a baby being born before, not really. I'd seen glimpses on TV shows, interrupted by ads and editing, but that was it. So I didn't know what I would see if I looked in that mirror: Blood? Gore? Poop?! (Shudder!) All possibilities were terrifying, not to mention mortifying.

It seemed much safer to just shut my eyes and get through it. It wasn't until later, when my baby lay against my chest, her eyes wide open, that I began to understand that giving birth was the most empowering, most powerful thing I had ever done in my life. I didn't feel scared or embarrassed. I felt capable. I felt miraculous.

I wish I had known about that feeling beforehand. I wish I had known more than just fear.

That, to me, is what real, raw birth photos like these ones by Kayla Gonzales accomplish. They tell the whole story of childbirth: Pain, power, beauty, relief, and every single thing in between.

Thanks to Kayla, and this mom, for sharing these images with us here at BabyCenter, and with the world. Be sure to follow Kayla on Instagram and visit her web site to see more of her work.

Images by Austin Birth Photos / Kayla Gonzales

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.

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