Pregnancy is a transformative and profound period in a woman’s life, marked by anticipation, change, and wonder. Photographing these fleeting moments through the lens of a camera not only preserves the memories for a lifetime but also celebrates the beauty of motherhood.  Capturing these meaningful portraits requires an understanding of the human body as well as strong communication skills and a range of maternity poses.  In particular, the photographer needs to understand different ways of emphasizing the belly while making the subject feel and look comfortable and beautiful.  In this article, we’ll teach you essential maternity poses, ideas and tips for a full understanding of posing for this unique genre of photography.

Maternity Poses and Ideas

Here are some classic and unique pose ideas, coupled with tips to ensure your maternity photos truly shine.

1. Both hands under the belly

A classic pose that emphasizes the mother’s connection to her baby. Have the mom-to-be stand with her feet shoulder-width apart and slightly bent inwards while cradling her bump gently from below. This position accentuates the belly’s roundness and creates a protective and nurturing vibe.

Image by Lin and Jirsa Photography (

2. One hand above and one hand under the belly photographed from the side

This pose adds dimension by capturing the belly’s curvature.  This maternity pose works particularly well when the wardrobe is loose, as it pushes the clothing inwards and shows off the shape of the belly.

maternity pose looking down

3. One hand above and one hand under the belly photographed from the front

A direct frontal shot can be very beautiful to add to your set of maternity poses. With the hands placed strategically, it’s a great way to capture facial expressions while also highlighting the belly.

0014 NN Irvine Regional Park Maternity Photography

4. Both hands above the belly

While not as common as other hand placement options, both hands above the belly can add some variety to your maternity poses.

maternity pose both hands above

5. One hand above the belly and one hand holding something

This can be a pair of baby shoes, an ultrasound photo, or fashion accessory like a hat or scarf. It’s a way to introduce elements, style, or story to the maternity pose.

maternity pose looking back

6. Dress toss maternity photo

Photographing from the side, have the expectant mother toss her dress so it flows in the wind. This dynamic shot is all about movement and the beauty of the feminine form during pregnancy. Use a fast shutter speed to capture the dress in motion.

maternity pose hand above hand below

7. Maternity couples photos

Incorporate the partner for a loving and supportive shot. The partner can stand behind or beside, placing their hand on the belly or around the mother in an embrace. This pose underscores the shared joy and anticipation.  We have a full article on couples maternity photoshoot ideas for more inspiration.

01 los angeles UCLA when to take maternity photos

8. Henna/Mehndi belly blessings

This cultural touchpoint involves painting the belly with intricate patterns using henna (i.e. Mehndi). The dark designs against the skin offer a beautiful contrast and pay homage to traditions celebrating motherhood.

11 maternity henna belly blessing photography

10. All Hands In

A maternity pose that evokes the essence of family. Have all the family members place their hands on the mother’s belly. It can be especially touching with siblings involved, symbolizing the collective love and anticipation of the newest family member.

maternity pose all hands

Video: Posing Tutorial – Maternity Portraits

In this video, we’re going to work through some of the nuances of maternity portraits in regards to lighting and posing. If you’re interested in learning more about how to capture maternity portraits, be sure to check out our full workshop, which is also part of our Premium subscription.

Maternity Posing Tips

Next, to complete your understanding of maternity poses and posing, let’s review some basic tips for posing for maternity photography that we covered in the video above.

Bend One Leg and Ensure Good Posture

In maternity posing, ensure that the leg is bent to accentuate the curves and avoid a boxy look.  See the incorrect image on the left, with a refined version on the right.

what not to do vs improved maternity pose tutorial
Settings: 35mm, 1/160th, ISO 400, f/1.4. Before & after of a forward-facing pose (left) vs. a more refined pose (right)
maternity posing tutorial hip kick differences
Hips kicked towards the camera (left) vs. away from the camera (right)

Ask the subject to kick her hips to one side.  Which side doesn’t matter so do whatever is most comfortable for the subject.  However, it’s important to make sure the subject isn’t leaning with her hips away from the camera. This can de-emphasize the hips. Once the hips are kicked to one side, the subject’s feet should come together with one knee drawn in to hang over the other knee and create a tapered point in the dress. Next, ensure that the subject is standing up straight and check for details to make sure the dress is laid out nicely.

Use Hand Placement to Draw Attention

You can also bring those hands forward to direct our viewers’ eyes to our intended focus point. Here are a couple different examples.

maternity portrait tutorial hand position for focus


Maternity photos are more than just images. They capture fleeting moments of anticipation, love, and transition. With the right poses and a touch of creativity, these portraits can become lifetime keepsakes. Whether you’re the photographer or the subject, consider these ideas and tips as a starting point, and let the beauty of maternity shine through.