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13 photos that show how amazing and beautiful C-section births can be

"It's not just a birth story, it's a love story."
/ Source: TODAY

Editor's note: This story was first published on April 30, 2018.

For Hayley Nanasi, a mom who delivered her daughter via cesarean section, childbirth was a "whirlwind" that may not have gone as planned, but was still an empowering experience.

"I tried natural birth, I tried birth with an epidural and in the end I had a C-section," Nanasi told TODAY Parents about giving birth in November 2017. "And you know what? My birth was perfect for me and my baby — it was exactly how God, or the universe or whatever you believe in, intended it to be."

Hayley Nanasi gave birth to her daughter via C-section in November 2017.Kourtnie Scholz/KE Documentary

Childbirth experts have identified the 32 percent C-section rate in the U.S. as cause for concern; the "ideal" C-section rate, based on health outcomes for mother and baby, is around 19 percent, according to one study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Moms who birth their babies via cesarean are sometimes made to feel "less than" by natural birthing proponents. But a growing number of photographers are documenting the beauty and wonder of C-section births.

Nanasi, like many moms, hired a birth photographer to capture her daughter's delivery. The photographer, Kourtnie Scholz of KE Documentary, has photographed eight C-sections.

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"To watch these parents overcome the unknown, the fears and the anxiety is inspiring," said Scholz. "To see them hear their baby cry for the first time always brings tears of joy to my eyes... it is an honor to tell their stories — It's not just a birth story, it's a love story and it's beautiful."

For Nanasi, it was important to have photographs of her birth no matter how she delivered her baby. The Texas mom says the images remind her of the beautiful moments of support and love she experienced during her lengthy labor and delivery.

Nanasi says her birth photos, taken by Texas photographer Kourtnie Scholz, remind her of the strength and beauty she experienced during her labor and delivery.Kourtnie Scholz/KE Documentary

"I don't know why there is a stigma around cesarean births, as if you didn't experience the same determination, fear and pain and magically bring another life into this world," said Nanasi. "Whether you are on your hands and knees in the birth room or on the operating table, you went through the most intense moment in your life and you deserve to remember that. However you bring your baby into the world — you are a badass."

We couldn't agree more, so we've rounded up photos that show how beautiful, inspiring and yes, empowering C-section birth can be.

Vanessa Rodriguez, a Texas mom, says the moment her son was placed on her chest after her C-section, she felt empowered and lost all fear.Kourtnie Scholz/KE Documentary
"Birth is birth. It doesn't matter to me where you birth or how you birth," Australian birth photographer Jes Jackson said about this image. Jes Jackson Birth Photographer
Hayley Ninasi says she cherishes the birth photos that show her husband supporting her. "Even though I later found out he was scared beyond belief in the operating room, you can see him comforting me and telling me I'm strong and we'll get through it all together," she said.Kourtnie Scholz/KE Documentary
Adria Church says she felt fears going into her C-section that she would not love her second child as much as she loved her first. "The moment we heard her cry, our hearts grew an enormous amount," she said.Kourtnie Scholz/KE Documentary
Scholz captured this touching image during Adria Church's C-section.Kourtnie Scholz/KE Documentary
Caitlin Domanico, photographer and author of "Photographing Motherhood," gave her husband, JP Domanico, a camera lesson before their second daughter, Genevieve, was born via C-Section. JP captured this image during Genevieve's birth.Caitlin Domanico/JP Domanico
Jackson says photographing C-sections is special to her, as she herself had a C-section.Jes Jackson Birth Photographer
The sweet moment when Vanessa Rodriguez met her son after her C-section delivery.Kourtnie Scholz/KE Documentary
Rachel Castillo Waxahachie says the moment she saw her son after her C-section was "happiest moment in my life ever."Kourtnie Scholz/KE Documentary
"It is always a huge honor to be allowed into such a sacred space," Jes Jackson said about photographing this birth. "C-section is birth and deserves to be documented too by a professional."Jes Jackson Birth Photographer
In November 2016, Scholz photographed twin boys being born via C-section.Kourtnie Scholz/KE Documentary