11/02/2015 09:01 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Incredible Photos Capture The Moment Babies Take Their First Breath After Caesarean Birth

Christian Berthelot

The moment a baby emerges from her mother's womb after a caesarean section has been captured in an incredible series of photographs.

A far cry from the prim and prettily posed black and white shots many parents hire professional photographers to take of their newborns, Christian Berthelot's photos are stark. The blood is red, the cords are blue and the babies are seconds old.

These pictures are not easy viewing if you are of a squeamish disposition, but they are extraordinary, capturing the reality of the momentous moment of birth.

Photographer Christian, from Brittany, France, was inspired to create his 'Cesar' series after being present at the birth of his first child - a son who was delivered by emergency caesarean.

"When I saw him for the first time, he was bloodied and covered in this white substance called vernix," said Christian.

"He was like a warrior who has just won his first battle, like an angel out of darkness. What a joy to hear him scream."
Christian explained that he was in awe of the speed of birth. He was fascinated by the idea that in a 'unique moment' a child goes from being in the womb to in the world.

"In this space of time everything is possible!" he adds.

"Far from the clichés and platitudes. I wanted to show us, as we are when we are born. And regardless, whether a cesarean delivery or natural voice, everyone is born naked, in tears, in blood and other body fluids."

Christian approached Dr Jean-François Morienval, an obstetrician at the hospital where his son was born, and together the pair sought expectant parents' permission for Christian to be present in the theatre during their planned caesarean.

Christian said that he considers himself 'privileged' to have witnessed so many births.

"My perspective on the birth has changed," he added. "I discovered the dangers of birth. It is for this reason that I have decided to show the beginnings of a new human being, during the first seconds of his life.

"What continues to amaze me is that it never stops. With each passing moment, a child is born, from all over the world, all the time, births never stop."

Christian admits his graphic photos have received mixed reactions.

"I know there are people who react very badly, who find it disgusting, they tell me that I do not have the right to show the children in the bloodstream," he said.

"Some even told me that it is not real, it is not true. This is absurd, children are not born in cabbages or roses.

"And there are those who are fascinated, I give them the opportunity to observe in detail the violence of birth. There are also people like my wife, who encouraged me to do this work, because a caesarean is beautiful birth."

Christian urges those who view his photographs not to forget that the subject is a person - an individual with their own identity.

"Each photograph is accompanied by the legend: it is a name, a date, a time, a weight," he explains. "All this information is unique and they are characteristics of each individual. They will have a significant bearing on his future."

See a selection of images from Christian's Caesar project in the gallery below. Or visit his website for more information.

CESAR is currently being shown in France during the Festival Circulations' Exhibition until March 8, 2015.

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