23 Photos That Tell The Story Of A Home Birth, As Documented By The Father-To-Be

Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
Brazilian photographer Gustavo Gomes aims to capture life, in all its nuanced delicacy, whenever he gets behind the camera. His latest project, The Childbirth, is arguably the most intimate example of his mission. Upon learning that his girlfriend, Priscila, was pregnant, he knew he wanted to document the entirety of this chapter in their lives, which culminated in a natural birth in their own home. The images are tender, candid, and, above all, they echo the love and comfort between Priscila, Gustavo, and their newborn daughter.

You may notice that a key moment is missing in Gomes' series — the actual point in time when his daughter was born. When asked about this, Gomes reminds us that he had two roles to play when Priscila went into labor: those of a photographer and of a father. "When she, Violeta, [was] about to come out, I quit my role of a photographer and sat on the floor alongside the doctor to be the first to grab her," Gomes explains. He adds, with all the pride of a new father, that he "was too thrilled and involved to photograph then."

Click through to see Priscila carry Violeta to term and read about Gomes' process in his own words.
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
"Recording our routine since we learned about the pregnancy until the day Violeta was born was only natural for me," Gomes explains.
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
Gomes has entitled this image "Fantasma."
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
Gomes frequently shoots Priscila in natural sunlight, echoing the "glow" so often associated with pregnant women.
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
Gustavo and Priscila consulted with a pediatrician and an obstetrician as her pregnancy progressed.
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
When asked about the decision to have Violeta at home, Gomes explains that, "from the beginning, we had decided that it'd be a natural birth, but after watching a very touching movie about childbirth called O Renascimento do Parto, we started thinking about having her at home."
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
Clearly taken early on in Priscila's pregnancy, this image depicts a quiet moment in the couple's everyday routine.
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
Gomes says that "Priscila is very used to my photographing her," and this ethereal image of her in the shower reflects the comfort between them.
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
Images of Priscila leading up to the birth are peaceful and frequently depict the mother-to-be resting.
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
"Many people might think [home birth] can be dangerous, but it's not, if it's been a healthy and regular pregnancy. It's a long and tiresome process, so it helps a lot spending all these hours in an intimate place."
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
"There's less risk of hospital-acquired infection, for example," Gomes adds, "and we wouldn't have to spend two days in a cold and impersonal hospital room."
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
"In 20 hours [of] labor, there are gaps in the contractions, rest periods, and long, hot showers... I photographed a lot in these gaps."
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
"Priscila and [I] never felt helpless," says Gomes.
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
Gomes acknowledges that his work has a larger mission: "We hope these photos can raise awareness about natural and home childbirth in Brazil. Our country has notoriously high caesarean rates...most of them with no medical reasons, just because C-sections can be scheduled and are quicker for the doctors to operate."
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
"We hope that these photos can demystify natural and home childbirths and encourage future mothers to avoid unnecessary C-sections."
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
Priscila, Gomes explains, "was aware beforehand that I would record this moment" of her going into labor, "as I long as I could still help her and act like a father."
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
The couple had a doula present throughout the home birth. Gomes adds, "we are very grateful for [the] doula, [who] helped her to go through pain more easily."
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
In the privacy of her home, Priscila could ease herself through labor however she needed to.
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
"I was as involved in the process as I'd have been without a camera," Gomes tells us. Images like this one reveal that, no matter where Priscila was in her 20 hours of labor, Gustavo was by her side.
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
"I knew the labor would be a test for my nerves, but luckily I'm a very calm person."
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
"Sleeping with Violeta by our side on her very first night was priceless."
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
"I didn't think about taking a single photo during two hours after I first saw her."
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
Finally, both mother and daughter rest.
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Photo: Courtesy of Gustavo Gomes.
Priscila watches over Violeta.
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