While they themselves are wedding photographers, this couple invited birth photographer, Maegan Dougherty, into their hospital room to document the labor and delivery of their second child.
When the couple's toddler-aged daughter stopped in to visit, her mom breastfed her. Yes, she nursed her child while laboring. And this is the image that Maegan captured of the amazing, and rarely-photographed bonding moment, between a super mom, and her first baby. Just moments before the second one arrived.
"Big sister was so happy to see her mom and to nurse," Maegan wrote on Instagram when she posted the photograph, adding, "And then contractions got longer and more intense."
As we know, nipple stimulation releases oxytocin, a hormone that helps contractions along. Of course, the fact that this mom was already in labor was the reason breastfeeding had such a strong effect. Here is another intimate image of a mom and baby's last, precious moments "alone" together. I'm impressed with the smiles all around! While I was in labor, I'm not sure the corners of my mouth turned up once.
Here are a few more images that document this incredible birth, which midwife Lonnie Morris helped facilitate:
As you can see, soon after the birth, mama was nursing her second daughter, a beautiful act that symbolically bonded her, to her older sibling.
I can only imagine the rush of emotions this mom felt, holding her new baby, in the sacred space that both physically and emotionally had been occupied only, by her beloved first daughter.
But as any parent of more than one child knows, your heart, instantly, inexplicably, miraculously, graciously, and magnificently expands with more love than you ever believed was possible, as soon as you lay eyes on your baby, and hold her, and feel her body and mouth on your own body.
Thank you to Maegan Dougherty for providing these stunning images, and this birth story. See more of Maegan's deeply personal photography on her website, on Instagram, and Facebook.
This post was originally published in December 2016.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.