These images give new meaning to the miracle of life.
Birth and breastfeeding photographer Leilani Rogers calls watching a baby take its first breath a “heavenly experience.”
The founder of the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project has documented 50 mothers going through their uniquely beautiful experiences.
She shared with Redbook the stories behind the most unforgettable, sometimes coarse, and always breathtaking moments that resonated with her the most.
“Capturing a baby born entirely in the amniotic sac (“en caul”) was probably the most defining moment for me as a birth photographer. The conditions of that birth weren’t ideal; it was dark, the room was tiny, and there were a lot of birth workers present whose job was much more important than mine. Going through the images later that evening was the first time I truly laid eyes on what I had captured. And I began to cry, because it was so beautiful and so rare, and I felt so blessed to have witnessed it, even if only through my lens.”
“My client’s 7-year-old daughter is providing pressure to her mother’s lower back. She so calmly and sweetly came into the room where her mother was birthing and genuinely wanted to help. Later her mother told me how comforting it was to have her there, and how much she admired the nurturing nature her daughter possessed.”
“I am often asked if it bothers me to see the surgical side of birth and C-sections. It truly does not. I find those moments of delivery to be every bit as beautiful and fascinating as a vaginal birth.”
“This is a rare occurrence — a baby born with 6 fingers. Definitely a surprise to mama and the birth team, but a special one. There was no bone in the finger, but it had a nail. It was intriguing, to say the least.”
“I often lose my breath as I document mothers reaching for their babies and bringing them to their chests. And each time I come back to those images, I lose my breath all over again. The joy, relief, and exhaustion is just so palpable.”
“What a privilege it is to get up close to placentas and umbilical cords. They are fascinating and serve an amazing purpose.”
“This image means so much to me. This is my niece. Her birth was so tranquil. And this was such a heavenly moment. She came quietly and peacefully into this world and took her time opening her big beautiful eyes to take in her new surroundings.”
“I love images that show that a woman can birth in many different positions. They should not be limited to their backs. That defies gravity, does it not? Case in point, many times a change in position will facilitate a stalled labor.”
“Herbal baths are my absolute favorite to capture. They’re done anywhere from a few hours postpartum to a day or two later, and aid in healing the perineum. They also smell divine (herbs like chamomile and lavender are used) and promote bonding between mother and baby. Plus, babies enjoy returning to a familiar environment.”
“I photograph a lot of births at home and in birth centers. Some might say they are more photo worthy. I disagree. This moment for instance, is mesmerizing. Baby is passing between the womb and her mother. I love the way Mom is reaching for her child, eagerly awaiting her placement in her arms.”
“I see a lot of water births. But birth tubs take some time to blow up, and fill. Every now and then, birth happens so quickly there is no time to go through that process. In this case mama knew she needed water, so she gave birth in her bathtub. And I photographed it from inside the shower stall, looking through the glass.”
“It’s an honor to celebrate families of all kinds. This two-mama family’s birth was so beautiful. And it was so fortunate that this mother’s partner is an experienced doula, because she was in labor for 35 hours!”
“Another beautiful hospital moment. It wasn’t until after I got home and began editing images that I noticed this little one’s signal that she felt at peace.