Entries show the pain, serenity and euphoria that come during different stages of childbirth
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Credit: Marijke Thoen Geboortefotografie

Every year, the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers calls for entries into their image competition – and this year’s birth photos are exceptionally breathtaking.

The association announced winners on Feb. 9 in four categories: a first place winner and best in category for labor, delivery and postpartum.

The overall best photo was awarded to Marijke Thoen for her image of the underwater birth of a baby with curly hair.

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The winning photo in the labor category titled “The Surge” pictures a woman bent over in the shower, screaming in agony. Natalie Walth, the winner in the postpartum category, was praised for her photo of a woman cradling her newborn. The image is titled “Where Peace Begins.”

Other entries showed the pain, serenity and euphoria of childbirth – like in Jennifer Martin‘s photo of a tattooed couple rejoicing over their child. And all kinds of deliveries were captured on film, including natural births, water births and cesarean sections.

The winners are selected on a “point system and judged on technicality, emotionality and composition,” according to IAPBP’s website.