Anyone who has experienced childbirth can tell you, it's an out of body experience. Even a few short days following the birth of your child, the insane amounts of pain, pressure and inner strength that come when attempting to bring a baby into this world is beyond anything anyone could have ever prepared you for. Many women chose to have the birthing process documented whether by photo or video to remember that exact moment because whatever instincts we have to procreate tend to blur the edges surrounding the process.
Take my last birth, for instance. It was my third c-section, but this time twins were coming into this world. It wasn't my first rodeo, so I felt prepared. I warned the anesthesiologist about my tricky spine when it came to spinal blocks. He brushed me off. Well, right as Baby A was being plucked from my open abdomen, pain came surging through me like The Tree of Life.
I can remember screaming in the anesthesiologist's face that I needed something. I can still see his huge eyes as he flipped switches, pushed buttons and crossed his fingers. This photo was taken while in the throws of all of this while feeling like a carcass cut bow to stern:
I can remember squeezing Baby A and telling my mom to get her away from me since I didn't want her to hear me scream like a banshee the first time and grow up to be a serial killer.
That's childbirth. A bottle rocket of gruesome pain, emotion and, finally, happy ever after. It's time to celebrate those of us women who are badass chicks who ripped our bodies to shreds and would do it 1,000 times over in order to meet the loves of our lives.
Without further ado, here are 15 other badass moms giving birth like it's their damn job:
15 The Wail
This Texas mother was caught in the throws of labor by her birth photographer during a birth that went from zero to 60 in an instant.
Jasmine was overdue and ready to get things on the road for her home birth in Austin, Texas when early labor started slowly. She texted her birth photographer that she was in labor, but it was still early so she was going to run some errands...like a badass.
The photographer ended up getting there a bit ahead of schedule since Jasmine was still dilated to a 6-7. However, immediately after her arrival, Jasmine whirled off the sofa and bore down in this warrior birth pose as the photographer snapped the photo.
Things were escalating quickly.
Immediately following this photo, the photographer shoved the coffee table out of the way, snapped a few more photos and boom, Oliver Massimo Joseph was born at 7:26 pm.
Way to go, Mama.
14 The Crouch
"No magic potion. No fairy dust. No one to do it for you. Just me, I will push you, show you, how to put one determined foot in front of the other. That's what I will do. I am inside you. I'm called your inner strength. Dig deep down and find me."
This photo speaks volumes of this badass mom. As she bares down in a contraction, crouched in the most comfortable position she can find with her partner helping as much as he can. Heaven knows every woman in labor needs someone to lean against, hold onto and scream obscenities at for at least the last throws of labor.
Not only can you see the warrior in this woman's face, but you can see the support she has in her partner by his clenched fists and hard stance. They are in this moment together. This is one of those moments that blur in your memory, but in the moment you think you'll remember forever.
13 The Shower
I can tell you firsthand how great a shower feels on your back during active labor. There's something soothing about the warm water on your throbbing spine as well as the serenity and solitude of yourself, the water, your body and your new baby. It's almost a meditation and works wonders for your inner strength. It also doesn't hurt that you're washing away the sweat of labor which can be quite the stinky mess.
This woman appears oblivious to the camera. She is in the zone and screaming through a monster contraction. I love this beautiful shower, but also the candidness. The strewed shampoo bottles, drink perched on the toilet and random chair for stability just make this a true glimpse into the lengthy home birth process.
12 The Serenity
"Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers -- strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength." - Barbara Katz Rothman
Some mothers-to-be scream during labor, some get epidurals, some have c-sections, some scream for epidurals. However, I have seen or heard of very few, if any of all, being this peaceful and serene while a baby is crowning. This woman deserves a Medal of Honor for her stoic resilience while pushing out her baby during this home water birth.
But, seriously, how is this woman this calm? Is she alive? A superhero? This is the most beautiful, in-the-moment photo I have ever seen. She was destined for this moment, to be a mother and is all things heroic in her final moments before motherhood. Floating there in the arms of those who love her. This is nothing short of goddess-like.
11 The Wail
"Imagine what might happen if women emerged from their labor beds with a renewed sense of strength and power of their bodies, and of their capacity for ecstasy through giving birth." - Dr. Christine Northrup
As you can tell, many moms opt for water births at home. They can create their own moods, their own environments and have all the comforts of home. This particular mom-to-be appears in her element as she screams through a contraction.
You can see the tension and exhaustion throughout her body. You can also see the smirk of an onlooker as everyone waits as patiently as possible for the newest member of this family. My heart hurts for this poor woman who looks more tired than she has ever been in her life as things get rolling and labor chugs right along, not caring that she feels like she is about to break.
Hang in there, Mama.
10 The Look In Her Eyes
"The women whom I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way cause shit went wrong, and they handled it." -Elizabeth Gilbert
One of my favorite memories of my last birth was my mom. As I was being prepped for my c-section, I was full of jitters and nerves. She held my hand and told me to cry as hard as I wanted. She told me it was okay to be afraid. We managed to get her alongside my husband in the operating room and seeing her face while her third and fourth grandchildren came into this world was a moment I will never forget. She rubbed my hair and caught my tears. There's nothing more valuable than your mother.
This is what I hope is happening for this woman, or should I say badass warrior, as she stares into the eyes of, who I hope is, her mother. Drawing strength from a woman who has been there, who knows the pain is almost as calming as the drugs...almost.
9 The Strain
"Giving birth is a transformation, and it doesn't matter whether you've had eight babies before. It's still a transformation the next time you have another baby, because you are no longer the same woman you were before you had that baby." -Penny Handford
While having my mother present for my third birth was a moment I will never forget, nothing, and I mean nothing, made me fall in love with my husband more than looking into his face while my babies were being born. Feeling his hand on my forehead, looking at the excitement and terror in his face and seeing him nearly faint a couple of times are memories worth their weight in gold.
This woman and her partner are in the same sync. She may be screaming and you can see her abdomen caving as her baby is making its way out, but she will remember having her partner there. That her partner caught her baby, the baby they made together. That is quite the moment to have on camera forever.
8 The Mother Warrior
"The bond between mothers and their children is one defined by love. As a mother's prayers for her children are unending, so are the wisdom, grace, and strength they provide to their children." -President George W. Bush
When my second oldest was born, my oldest was only 18 months old. He knew very little about the baby in my belly and didn't understand the birth process in the least. However, when my twins were born, they were each four and two and understood. They were amazed at the changed my body went through.
The most amazing moment as a mother was when my mother-in-law brought my two oldest children to meet my two newest. They curled on the hospital bed and stared at their wrinkly mushes in awe. Their worried faces looked at me to make sure I was okay. I assured them and we sang, "Hush Little Baby" to their newest sisters. It was magical. I sobbed and will remember it forever.
Having your children present like this mother may have worried them, but they had a first-hand experience to know the lengths their mother went through to bring them into this world. This moment, caught in the flash of a bulb, will be in their memory forever when they think of their mother. The badass she is.
7 The Bed
"The instant of birth is exquisite. Pain and joy are one at this moment. Ever after, the dim recollection is so sweet that we speak to our children with a gratitude they never understand. We speak to our parents with a sorrow unfamiliar until the day they are dying. " - Madeline Tiger
Pain is temporary. It's something that pregnant women hear over and over while in labor. It's also something they tend to ignore or scoff at since they are the ones feeling like they are being butchered -- not the person who's toting off birthing advice.
However, it's the truth and, more than likely, the same thing they will tell their daughters one day when they are writhing in pain like this woman who feels the fire of a thousand suns coursing through her body. Pain is temporary, but that love will last for a million lifetimes. Remember that and you'll be okay.
6 The Drive
"Obviously there is pain in childbirth. But giving birth is also a moment of awe and wonder, a moment when the true miracle of aliveness, and of a woman's amazing part in that miracle, is suddenly experienced in every cell in one's body. It is in that sense truly an altered state of consciousness." -Riane Eisler
Where I live, we are about an hour's drive from a hospital acceptable enough for most women to give birth in. It was a huge fear of mine to give birth on the side of the highway, so I made that hour long trek more than once during false labor pains to avoid a 911 call and a panicked husband with PTSD.
It appears my birth nightmare, was this woman's reality. The muscles in her forearm as she nearly rips the handle off her vehicle and her partner's gentle touch just show the massive amount of pain throbbing through her body. She will never be the same -- she will forever be the badass mom who had a baby in her car.
5 The Climb
"There is a secret in our culture, and it's not that birth is painful. It's that women are strong." -Laura Stavoe Harm
One of the biggest tips from hospital staff while you're in labor is to walk. Walk that baby out, walk that baby out, walk that baby out. You will hear it on a loop until your head explodes. It's a hard pill to swallow when you're in such severe pain that, instinctively, you just want to curl into the fetal position. However, it's vital to get things moving in the right direction and not halt labor.
This is Mel, who's birth photographer was her sister Lucy. Lucy said Mel was a badass that entire day. She ran errands in labor, went out to dinner and even labored on the side of the road. She went to the hospital to be sent home only dilated to 3 cm. However, as soon as they got home, they turned around and almost had the baby in the car. She was a badass from start to finish and kept things moving for her baby.
4 The Grip
Here's a little secret about me: I have four children and only felt labor one time. It was with my son. I was induced and things were not progressing. It was not active labor or even severe. I am such a wuss that I had to get my epidural in order for the doctor to break my water since every time she tried I basically crawled up the walls in pain. Seriously, I don't know how you people do this.
I am seriously awestruck by photos of this. This woman, all on her own, hands barely gripped to the edge of the tub and full-on pushing her baby out by herself. What kind of magical stuff is this? Women are amazing, this woman is a badass and I am insanely jealous I didn't have a home water birth, though I know I would have chickened out five minutes in and spent hundreds on a big fancy tub. Oh well, kudos to you badass water birth moms out there.
3 The Sunshine Birth
"Birth is not neat and fast: It's gritty and primal. But it's nothing to fear. Unless you also think we ought to fear women crying when they are sad or laughing when they are happy...if we stop viewing birth as an emergency -- it's NOT -- Then we can stop imposing anxiety on women about birth." -Mayim Bialik
Can we just talk a second about how this woman is giving birth in a swing, in the sunshine next to a tree? Like, how amazing does that feel for this new mom? How strong and confident to be doing this with the help of Mother Nature? That's badass at its finest.
There are so many women who fear the unknown when it comes to labor at home. Just like myself, many worry what would happen if something goes wrong. However, many of us need to take a breath and realize that women have been giving birth on their own since the beginning of mankind. We can do this. We can look at this badass woman and know, it can be done, we just need to try.
2 The Scream
This is Caitlin has she works through her natural delivery of her and her husband's little baby boy, Topher. This is all the culmination of Caitlin's four days of contractions and labor. She said, at this point, she didn't think she could do it, but her husband, midwife and two nurses kept her pushing until her face turned purple.
"I’d look around the room for anyone to lock eyes with me and give me some relief, but instead, they all offered the same message – 'you can do this; you have all the strength you need to do this,'" Caitlin said in a message on her photographer's website. "I wanted to quit. I didn’t think I had the endurance. I’d stop pushing and our midwife would urge me to, 'not waste my contraction,' and push one more time."
Well, you did it, Mama. And you, my dear, are a badass.
1 The Tension
"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming." -Romans 8:18
I have been pregnant three times. That means I spent 27 months wishing time away. I wanted nothing more than to smell my baby, feel it's finger wrap around mine and hear it's very first scream rip through the walls.
While these moments are painful, terrifying and beautiful all in one. This photo seems to capture, not only this woman's badass ability to endure excruciating pain, but also the pure light and happiness that is awaiting her in (hopefully) a few short hours. It's severe, intense, white-light pain, but it is even more intense love awaiting each and every one of these women at the end. It's what keeps you pushing through and not giving up. It's a testimony to how euphoric motherhood is that we are willing to become completely savage, primal beasts in order to smell the sweet sweat on top of their peach fuzz heads.
It's all worth it, Mama. Don't worry.