By Tui Benjamin
This is the incredible moment a baby delivered by caesarean section reached out to touch her mum’s face just seconds after being born.
Professional birth photographer Selena Rollason, 39, captured the instantaneous bond between Stephanie Angelico and daughter Olivia – made all the more remarkable by the fact most babies have no sense of where they are in relation to their mother when born.
Stephanie, a paediatric nurse, gave birth to Olivia earlier this year [January 11] at a private hospital in Brisbane, Australia via elective caesarean at 39 weeks because the youngster was breech in the womb.
Mum-of-four Selena, who has run Brisbane Birth Photography since 2011, said she had never witnessed anything like this in more than 100 births.
The 39-year-old, from Brisbane, said: “New babies don’t usually have a sense of where they are or who they are with when they are first born – especially in the case of a caesarean delivery.
“They are also often wrapped up tight or covered heavily in blankets and unable to move their arms and legs.
“In this case, baby Olivia was placed on her mum’s chest for skin to skin time and given the opportunity to be in close contact with her mum.
“This allowed for a beautiful bonding opportunity between the baby and her mother where it appeared as though the baby clearly knew who she was and she was trying to reach out for her.
“Despite the more than 20 caesareans and more than 100 births I’ve attended, I’ve never seen a baby repeatedly reach out for her mother in this way.
“The level of familiarization that the baby had with her mum was evident. She didn’t just reach out for her once, she just kept doing it. I was in amazement.
“When I realized what I was witnessing, I couldn’t believe how incredibly special it was to not only be present to witness this moment but to be able to capture it for the parents.
“I’ve never seen something like this in theatre between a mother and baby before and to be honest, I’m not sure when (or if) I’m likely to witness it again.”
Steph, 30, from Upper Kedron, Brisbane, said: “Having skin to skin contact with Olivia as soon as possible was especially important to me because I was having a c-section.
“When she started to reach out to me and touch my face it was such a heartfelt moment.
“This little baby who had been growing inside me for nine months – it was like she immediately knew who I was and this was where she was meant to be.”
Selena said as many hospitals have limitations on whether photographers are allowed in theatre, it was already extra special for her to have been able to take pictures of Stephanie’s c-section.
But she insisted having photos and skin-to-skin contact between mum and baby is especially important after caesareans because it changes what can be a traumatic event into a positive memory.
Selena recently became the first birth photographer to win 2018 Queensland Professional Photographer of the Year at the Queensland Epson Professional Photography Awards – despite previously having been branded ‘just a mum with a camera without a real job’.
The 39-year-old added: “Caesarean sections are so clinical and medical yet a naturalized birth where skin to skin and a photographer is permitted makes the whole thing feel more natural and humanized.
“Caesareans like this place greater element on the importance of the human beings at the centre of the surgery, instead of the medical process.
“Caesareans have become so medicalized that we forget about the humans laying on the operating tables and their psychological and emotional needs.
“Skin to skin and immediate close contact between mother and baby is so important for both their psychological and physical health.”