This poignant image of a mum sharing a first cuddle with her newborn from behind a PPE screen shows the stark reality of a COVID labour.
Ali Harris, 34, welcomed son Indy in May this year, but the experience couldn’t have been more different from her previous two labours.
Husband Leigh, 33, managed to capture the extraordinary moment Indy was handed to his mum from behind a plastic sheet for his very first hug.
The couple, from the UK town of Lincoln, had no idea they had snapped such an incredible image that would give the world a glimpse into labour in the COVID-19 era.
“As soon as the virus started to get really big we knew Indy’s birth was going to be different,” Ali, a photographer, said.
“We have two other children so we were ready for our third, but everything changed pretty swiftly.
“We couldn’t go to appointments together which was really tough because we both rely on each other for support in anything that we do.
“I knew there would be PPE, including wearing a face mask, and we opted for the clear screen so that we could see the birth, but it still felt strange looking at him through it.”
She went on to describe the unusual moment as “special”, saying she was happy to see Indy whether there was PPE or not – but said it wasn’t until seeing the photo she realised how many extra precautions were taken in light of the pandemic.
“With our last two children we filmed the birth but this time were told we couldn’t, so Leigh just snapped loads of pictures and that’s how we ended up with the image,” Ali added.
“We didn’t think anything of the photo initially, but on second glance we realised just how stark it was, and how much is represented the time we’re all currently living in.”
Leigh said he wasn’t paying attention to the photos he was taking, saying he was focused on “snapping away” so the pair could look back on such a special moment.
Thankfully, the birth went well, but the couple did miss out on having skin-to-skin contact with Indy after his arrival.
Also known as kangaroo care, research has shown that laying a newborn on the chest straight after birth can be beneficial for both baby and parent.
Medics say it’s an important part of care for sick premature or low-birth-weight babies as it can reduce the risk of infections and hypothermia, while increasing growth and breastfeeding rates and shortening hospital stays.
Skin to skin contact is also seen as a great way to bond with the baby, especially if the mother intends to breastfeed.
It also helps the newborn adjust to its new surroundings, calm their breathing and keep them close and safe.
Now, the couple are sharing their story to help other soon to be parents who may be about to go through the same thing.
“You just have to adapt really quickly, every restriction is there for a reason and in our experience if you follow them you’ll be OK,” Leigh said.
“The image is just the icing on the cake, we’re thrilled we have that moment on camera and seeing all the PPE is a real reminder of the world we’re currently in.”
While Ali said the pair had been worried Indy Indy wouldn’t have a special birth without family doting on him and everyone meeting him, they now realise he has the best story to tell out of all three of their kids.