Only a mother knows the pain, joy, and the incredible feeling that washes over her when she finally gives birth to the baby she has been carrying in her womb for 9 excruciating months. None of us can even fathom the gravity of that feeling or gauge the joyful pain on any human scale. And for this very reason, motherhood will remain to be a mystery for most of us. 

Disclaimer: Graphic images

These beautiful photos capture every emotion that a woman, her partner, and her relatives feel during the magical process of bringing a small, crying life into this world.

All these photos won awards at the 2016 photography contest by The International Association of Professional Birth Photographers (IAPBP).

Underwater birth.

Image: Marijke Theon

Fighting through the pain.

Image: Apple Blossom Families

Twin birth underwater.

Image: Birth Blessings Photography & Childbirth Services

And finally they rested, holding each other.

Image: Natalia Walth

She never faltered, neither did she give up. 

Image: Krista Evans

The incredible stillness of the moment.

Image: Angela Gallo

With eyes wide open, he came into the world. 

Image: Alexandra Kayy

Look the child is smiling too.

Image: Jennifer Martin

The beauty of the first suckle, and the kiss that followed.

Image: Daniela Justus / Monet Nicole

He held her, through it all. 

Image: Coastal Lifestyles Photography / Bridget Clarke

The beginning of a beautiful life.  

Image: Line Sena

Captivating, isn’t it?

H/T: boredpanda