New parents Ali Harris, 34, and Leigh, 33, have shared powerful photos of what it’s like to give birth in the midst of Covid-19.
The couple’s photos of the arrival of their newborn son Indy have been shared around the world and attracted messages of support from total strangers.
Ali and Leigh never expected to have such a different pregnancy to their previous two when Ali became pregnant in August 2019… but then coronavirus arrived and everything changed.
They quickly realised how difficult going through pregnancy and childbirth amid a pandemic would be, as they were unable to attend appointments together or even leave the house to celebrate their new addition to the family.
When going into labour, Leigh was able to snap a photo of baby Indy’s first cuddle with Ali, which took place through a plastic sheet.
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That photo has been spread far and wide, and held up as a powerful summary of what childbirth looks like in this strange new world.
Ali, a photographer, said: ‘As soon as the virus started to get really big we knew Indy’s birth was going to be different.
‘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.
‘But of course, I was glad it was there, and I was so happy to just see Indy because whether we have to wear PPE or not, it was always going to be a special moment.
‘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.
‘It hit me as soon as the drapes went up around me, knowing all of the extra precautions were in play.
‘We didn’t think anything of it 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 snapped plenty of photos of the moments after Ali gave birth, and only realised what an incredible picture he had captured when he looked through all the ones he’d taken.
The powerful photo went on to get the attention of the Duchess of Cambridge and has since been selected as one of 100 images that define the UK lockdown.
Ali said: ‘We are so thrilled that we have an image of our first moment together and when you notice the PPE surrounding us you realise how poignant the image is.
‘The whole pregnancy was a different experience, we had to get used to not going to all of the appointments together, you want to be sat their holding hands, but you couldn’t.
‘I went to a scan on my own and I remember being in a waiting room and someone was coughing a lot and you just instantly become terrified.
‘Pregnant women were classed as high risk so leaving the house was scary.
‘Thinking back now we’re just over the moon that everything went ok, the doctors were amazing, and we can’t thank them enough for keeping us safe.’
The couple hope that by sharing the photo and the story behind it, they’ll help prepare other expectant parents who may be nervous about giving birth with coronavirus still raging on.
‘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,’ said Leigh.
‘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.’
Ali added: ‘We were worried Indy wouldn’t have a special birth with family doting on him and everyone meeting him, but now we realise he’ll have the best story to tell out of all three of them.’
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