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The second birth that Colorado photographer and mom-of-two Jennifer Mason captured was a water birth. Though it was several years ago, she still remembers everything about that day.
"I watched her catch her own baby, under the watchful eye of the midwife, and bring her baby out of the water and up to her chest," Jennifer, a maternity and birth photographer, tells BabyCenter. "The transition from womb to water and then to mom's chest was peaceful and beautiful."
It was also worlds apart from Jennifer's own childbirth experience. Just a year earlier she'd delivered her first daughter. While she'd hoped for a "peaceful birth center birth," she ended up having to be induced and her baby arrived via c-section.
"As I was laying on the table, knowing my child was being born, I felt separate from what was happening on the 'other side' of the curtain. Even though she was perfect, no-one held her over the curtain for me to see, all I could hear was her cry and my husband telling me, through his tears, that she was a girl, and she was beautiful and perfect. I lay there crying, because my whole world changed and I didn't feel like I was a part of it."
It was 10 minutes before Jennifer finally laid eyes on her baby girl, when she was placed, washed and bundled up, on her chest.
That moment impacted Jennifer in more ways than one. It's why she decided to shift her focus from photographing weddings to photographing births. Not only did she not get to see her daughter being born, she didn't have a single photo of it, either. She suddenly realized the importance of having those pictures, and wanted to capture those memories for other mothers.
In the years since, she's attended over 50 births, some at homes, some at hospitals. Every single birth, she says, is "powerful and moving for me, no matter how a mom brings her baby earthside."
Powerful and moving is a perfect way to describe the photos that Jennifer shares with her thousands of followers on Instagram. They are honest and real, gripping and breathtakingly beautiful. Many of the images capture expectant moms laboring at home, in water. There is something particularly captivating about those photos, about the balance between the raw instinct of labor and what Jennifer calls the "sense of peacefulness" that comes with a water birth.
Take a look...
Water Birth, Home Birth, Birth Center
After more than 50 births, Jennifer Mason says she's been witness to so many unforgettable moments.
"I've witnessed many incredible things," she admits. "A mother who laughed her baby out, a truly pain free birth, amazing triumph in cesarean birth, a tiny preemie reaching out for his mother, the gratitude of spouses/partners, and the compassion that I've seen from nurses, midwives and doctors which has brought me to tears. Birth stories are amazing, they are love stories, and they are worth documenting."
The photos above literally give me goosebumps.
And they make me wish, yet again, that I had more photos from the days that my daughters were born. Those days changed my life, and my heart, more than any other. It must mean so much to these families to have those memories captured in such a stunning way.
"Having a photograph from the moment you meet the littlest love of your life, is a photograph you'll always treasure," Jennifer says.
Be sure to visit Jennifer Mason Photography online, and follow her on Instagram (@jennifermasonphotography) and on Facebook to see more of her beautiful work.
This post was originally published on September 30, 2016. It was updated and republished January 30, 2018.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.