Gentle, Quiet Birth in Manila, Philippines Birth Center by Annica Quakenbush

Photographer: Annica Quakenbush





Baby Matias was born at Shiphrah Birthing Home, part of Help International Ministries, near Manila, Philippines.

While Silay pushed, it was peacefully quiet. Silay was on the wooden birthing stool, resting back into her husband's arms. She was incredibly strong. The words "power" and "goddess" kept flashing through my mind as her midwives and I quietly watched her bring their baby earthside.

Vencer, her husband, stroked her arms, wiped her brow, and held her water bottle while she drank. He groaned when she groaned. As their baby started crowning, he tried to peek over her to see his son for the first time. Silay and Vencer's love for each other was palpable. After Silay's last two intense pushes, Matias arrived! The intensity and quiet in the room turned quickly to erupting joy and chatter as Silay cradled Matias. I've never seen such genuine happiness!

Silay and Vencer chose to delay cord clamping until the next morning, so the placenta that gave Matias life for nine months stayed connected to him while he laid skin-to-skin with his mother all night.

Welcome to the world, Matias. You are so loved.

Silay shared with me her thanks for being her birth photographer and gave some insight into why they chose to have an unmedicated gentle birth at Shiphrah Birthing Home. Her words are here:

"We decided to have a gentle birth with our second son in a wonderful birthing home with amazing and supportive midwives. And so it was important for us to document the whole experience, to be able to look back at that special moment which shows the incredible strength and bravery that all birthing women possess. We have Annica to thank for being part of our birth team and for poignantly capturing our gentle birth experience.

Annica’s photos of our birth have deeply made an impact not just with my husband and I but with family and friends as well. The photos empower us, show and teach us all to embrace birth, to do away with the stigma and fear that come with birth for as long as women can remember. The photos serve as a voice of birthing women all around the world which indeed tell us what we’ve known all along—that women are amazing and that women have profound strength and bravery within themselves. All women after all, are warriors. It takes a village to raise a child, so the proverb goes. But I also believe it takes a village to birth a child into this world, to be surrounded and supported by wonderful and encouraging women and people so that all mothers get the dignified birth they all deserve.

Thank you, Annica, for being part of our village!"

Annica is a birth photographer, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Annica used our Basic Presets to edit these beautiful images. If you want clean, vibrant edits for every birth, pick up a set for yourself here.