Few moments in life are as moving as when moms give birth and meet their baby for the first time … but what about dads? While this initial meet-and-greet between father and infant is rarely so celebrated, it’s just as emotional.
So grab the tissues! It’s time to watch these stoic male creatures melt into jelly, and you along with them.
As one photographer put it: Moms may feel bonded to their baby throughout the pregnancy, but it often doesn’t hit dads until they’re staring into their newborn’s eyes. That’s what makes these images so powerful — consider this an ode to fatherhood from the moment it begins.
1. The moment moms miss
“This dad is holding his newest little girl for the first time,” says photographer Jessica Heksem. “One of my favorite moments to capture – after mom’s face after the birth of their baby – is dad’s reaction. This is something that most moms don’t see because they are having their own bonding moments, so to catch those loving smiles that they have just melts my heart!”
2. Safe in dad’s arms
“This image was taken right after this dad witnessed the quick two-hour homebirth of his baby girl,” says photographer Sarah Jankowski. “You could tell he was already so in love with her!"
3. Making faces
"This funny man is holding his daughter for the first time,” says photographer Tammy Schmit. “As he stared adoringly into her eyes, she stuck her tongue out at him, and he responded in kind."
4. One-on-one time
"In this photo, dad comforts his brand new baby boy under the warming light,” says photographer Laura Eckert. In fact, according to birth photographers, the warming light is often the first place where dads get to meet and bond with their infant.
5. Hello there!
“This baby was laid on his mama’s chest as soon as he was born,“ says photographer Casandra Hawkins. "This was the moment his daddy got to see his son for the very first time.” (Photo: Denton Birth Photography)
“This daddy is catching his very first daughter,” says photographer Melissa Cate. “Mama delivered in the water on her hands and knees, and baby went directly into Daddy’s waiting arms."
7. Double rainbow baby
(Photo: Jennifer Mason Photography)
After two losses, this happy and supportive father welcomed his double rainbow baby daughter into the world,” says photographer Jennifer Mason. “His strong wife labored for over 24 hours to bring baby earthside, and this dad was there every step of the way."
8. The 4 Faces of Fatherhood
"This series of photos embodies everything becoming a father is to me,” says photographer Ashley Marston. “I look at it often, and it brings me right back to that moment. As the photographer, it was hard to keep my camera still. The tears were rolling down my cheeks. I could see the range of emotion in him. It had been a very long and emotional birth, there was relief, then awe, disbelief and then overwhelming love. A lot of the emotions we experience every day as parents — all captured in one very important moment.”
9. Skin to Skin
(Photo: Ashley Marston Birth Photography)
“There is no better feeling in this world than that first skin-to-skin contact with your fresh baby,” says photographer Marston. While skin-to-skin is something we typically think of babies doing with Mom, with Dad, it’s just as beautiful.
10. Holding hands
(Photo: Sabrena Rexing Photography)
In this photo, dad and baby bonded with a little hand holding. “Shortly after coming earthside, this baby grasped onto her father’s finger,” says photographer Sabrena Rexing.
11. Staring into each other’s eyes
(Photo: First Light Birth Photography)
“This little girl knew exactly who her daddy was and just gazed at him the whole time they had skin to skin,” recalls photographer Keri-Anne Dilworth. “It was such a beautiful moment to capture.”
12. Love at first sight
(Photo: Cradled Creations)
“The first of many times that father will admire his son,” says photographer Jaydene Freund.
13. First kiss
(Photo: Cradled Creations)
This dad had so much love and joy that his son had arrived safely, he leaned over to give a tender kiss while he lay there in the scale,“ says photographer Freund.
14. Up close and personal
(Photo: Janelle Kamp Photography)
"I love how this dad is getting to know his newborn son, baby Tyson,” says photographer Janelle Kamp.
15. A life-changing moment
(Photo: Ari Landworth)
“A mother is said to feel like a parent throughout the pregnancy, but the moment a father first holds their child is profoundly life changing,” says photographer Ari Landworth. “This image is intended to impart the gravity of that moment.”