This image won the 2017 Image of the Year, and when you see it—and hear the story behind it—you'll understand why.
We've seen some truly extraordinary birth photos, so when a shot wins the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers 2017 Image of the Year Competition, we know it's going to a be good one.
The award-winning image comes from Jaydene Freund, the photographer behind Cradled Creations, and it absolutely does not disappoint. Freund managed to really capture the visceral nature of giving birth: There's no crowning newborn, no single tear running down a new father's face, there's not even a delivery room or hospital bed in sight. It's just one woman who is well on her way to bringing a baby into the world, and clearly feeling every bit of the intensity that defines the experience.
The photo itself is visually arresting, but it becomes even more interesting when you hear the story behind it. According to a blog post from Freund, the mother captured in the image planned to deliver at home, but she had complications and needed to head to the hospital while she was already well into labor.
"I had been at home with this family capturing their labour journey. When the midwife came to assess her and recommended transferring to hospital, I knew I would travel with them in their car. This mom was having her 2nd baby and even though she was 8cm when she got in the car, I knew how quickly things could progress for a second time mom. As we sped to the hospital (a 10 minute drive) I could hear her contractions getting stronger and knew she was already 10cm and ready to push even before we got to the hospital. Thank goodness she stayed calm and breathed through all the intense desire to push," Freund wrote on her blog.
Freund's image features the mother mid-contraction. "It was an incredible birth to capture because there was so much emotion in such a short period of time," Freund told Fit Pregnancy. "When she decided she would go to the hospital, everything moved very quickly. Her husband and I prepared the car, and all drove together while her midwife followed in the car behind. When we arrived to hospital, it was a whirlwind. She walked herself up to the maternity ward and straight into a room. Her midwife checked her and she was 10cm dilated and ready to push. As soon as someone told her she was safe to push out her baby, there was an immense amount of relief and 10 minutes later baby was in her arms. A surprise baby girl."
You can check out some of the other incredible winning images on the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers website.