Delivery room photos to be banned?

Katherine - posted on 01/04/2011 ( 33 moms have responded )

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f you're looking for another argument in favor of home birth, here's one -- some hospitals are banning parents from taking pictures of their baby's birth. That means no video cameras, no still pictures, no recorded history of one of the most magical moments of your your life.

While policies vary by hospital nationwide, a Maryland hospital, Meritus Medical Center, recently banned pictures for five minutes after a baby's birth. FIVE FULL MINUTES. That's a lot of precious minutes of your own child's life to be prohibited from capturing.

For years parents have snapping pictures and filming births, and while I'm sure there are some obnoxious family members who don't know their place in the delivery room, most are just as concerned about their baby's safety as the medical staff. They just want to memorialize it.

As Laurie Shifler, who will be delivering her eighth child at the hospital under the new policy, told ABC, "What's next, the father can't be in the delivery room?"

Exactly. While safety should be the utmost concern, there's got to be some room for sentimentality and emotion there too.

And really, if it's a case of parents getting in the way, then hospitals could set some rules as to where the photogs can be, or perhaps have approved and trained photographers parents could hire to do the job if they must. But there's got to be some way to let parents capture these memories.

A hospital spokesperson said the policy is to "protect patient privacy" and "reduce potential staff distractions," according to The Baltimore Sun. Sounds more like the hospital wants to save its own ass from lawsuits.

Brian McKeen, a medical malpractice attorney, agrees.

"There's no question in my mind or in the minds of other colleagues who I've worked with on the obstetrical side that hospitals are doing this so as not to have a piece of evidence generated that can be used against them in a court of law," McKeen told ABC World News. "They do it to hide the truth."

If that's the case, then that's even more reason cameras should be allowed in delivery rooms.

Does your hospital have a policy against delivery room photographs? Would you change hospitals if it did?

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Mary - posted on 01/04/2011

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Lisa, your responses make sooooooooooo glad that you opt for home births.

If you recall, I clearly stated that I did NOT support a ban on photos. The hospital where I worked has no such policy. I merely expressed why I don't think it's the end of the word. As for my opinions about priorities...those are personal, and not professional opinions, based on my own feelings and experiences when I gave birth. I do differentiate the two, although I realize this is something not all of us are capable of. Professionally, I would (and do) honor any reasonable and safe wishes of my patients...that does not mean I may not find them to be fools inside my own head.

As for hospital policies...they are necessary. Yes is "your birth"...but society has forced hospitals to undertake a lot of CYA measures. It would be great if every laboring woman would take not only responsibility but also ownership of her choices and preferences....as well as any consequences that may occur. Sadly, the vast majority of woman who have less than perfect outcomes do feel the need to blame someone, even when that outcome is not a result of human error, but just an uncontrollable act of nature. Like it or not, if you choose to birth at hospital, you do relinquish some control of your environment. You can refuse to let them DO things to your person, but you cannot completely dictate the terms of your surroundings. If that is what is most important to you, than you really should deliver at home.

Mary - posted on 01/04/2011

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The tone of this article annoys me. It's not that I support a flat out ban on still photos in the first five minutes, but the suggestion that "They do it to hide the truth" is just unnecessarily inflammatory (and I see that it worked on some of you!).

First of all, if they wanted to "hide" anything, they could just ban any support people from being in the room. This is a small community hospital out in butt-fuck western MD, so there's not exactly a lot of competition. (It's closer to West Virginia than Baltimore).

And, please, drop off the "all hospitals are evil" bandwagon; this is ONE hospital out of thousands, and by no means representative of ALL hospitals.

I will add this observation, though:

I'm not sure that it's an inherently bad thing to tell birth attendants to put down that camera for the first 5 minutes of life. People get so obsessed with "capturing the moment" on film, that they miss out on the moment itself. Fathers get so caught up in getting the perfect shot that instead of fully feeling and experiencing the miracle of their child's arrival, they are standing back and looking in through a god-damned digital view finder instead of kissing their wife and caressing their newborn's cheek.

Sorry, but I wanted my husband present, and with us in the moment. Those memories are so very precious, and forever burned into my heart and soul; photographic evidence of it was not necessary.

As someone who has watched countless fathers or other support members miss out on fully enjoying the miracle happening before them because they were too preoccupied with their cameras, I sort of think it's actually a good rule. Some people are just too stupid to realize what their priorities should be.

Minnie - posted on 01/04/2011

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In my opinion, many hospitals make the birth about the medical staff, not the parents and baby. Whose birth is it, anyways? It is so incredibly shady, the way hospitals seek to remove all proof of liability. Considering how many screw-ups happen there.



I wouldn't set foot in a hospital to birth again save life-threatening occurances.

Nikki - posted on 01/04/2011

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It's funny how different hospitals have such different policies, I actually had a great birthing experience in hospital. I never saw a doctor and my midwife never told me what to do, she was simply supportive. She didn't even look between my legs until I was crowning, I was pretty much left to my own devices, which was great. From hearing other mother's stories on here I can see why there are so many woman against hospital births and it just seems to get harder with every passing year because hospitals become terrified of legal action if something goes wrong. But on the grand scheme of things I don't see why having restrictions on 5 minutes of time for photo's would be a huge deal. I can see what Mary is saying about enjoying the moment, it is such a special time.

[deleted account]

Mary I agree, I don't personally need photos (to remember the joyous moment where the pain finally stopped) but isn't that up to the individual to decide. We can't make assumptions about what every individual considers an important moment and how they choose to document and remember.

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Yes, our local hospital has a policy of no photos in second stage labour. At antenatal classes we were specifically informed that this policy was in place for liability reasons. Yes, that played a huge part in my decision not to birth there but to book in to the midwife run birth centre instead. Turns out they have a similar policy as well as no video/filming of the birth at all. My partner is a photographer, he experiences and interacts with the world a great deal through his lens. He and our other support people (mostly my MIL) took many, many photos during my birth and yes, even filmed some of my labour (against policy, but we had a very understanding midwife who allowed us to do so and then benefited from the results as we released all photos for her to use in education and information sessions).

As we had a large support group present at the birth, my MIL took most of the responsibility for taking regular photos and my partner missed out on nothing, he was most definitely present and supportive, there holding me up when they placed our baby on my chest, we were all as one for the first moments as a family AND the most beautiful and precious time we have all experienced together is captured forever on camera. He also got the chance during the labour to experience it and capture it through his lens(es), which for him was an important expression of himself in the event through the quality of the recorded images. It was important to us that we have as many photos as possible of the experience, I understand for many it is not important, but for those who value it it is ONE of the priorities that hospital staff should be able to accommodate without being restricted by policy designed solely to protect their asses.

To quote Tara:
"Midwives aren't concerned with covering their asses, they believe in their ability to provide top notch care, and don't worry that something might go wrong and their client will sue them."
This is the impression I got about our midwife as well, she happily flouted policy for us to engage with our birth journey in a way that optimised our satisfaction with the experience. We were more than happy afterwards to reciprocate by giving her copies of the photos and our express permission to use them in a professional, educational context. If filming and photography of births is limited by policies like in the OP, aren't the maternity health professionals and birthing mothers of the future going to be limited in their ability to access a variety of images/footage of modern and current birth practices?

Johnny - posted on 01/04/2011

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I am very thankful that there was no such policy in the hospital I gave birth in. My doula took pictures so that my husband and I could fully concentrate on the moment at hand. Before the birth I had said that I didn't want any pictures of her head passing but she took a couple and now I treasure every one of them. She has been trained on how to behave in a delivery room, and had worked with my midwife and nurse on many occasions, so there was no issue whatsoever with her interfering. When my placenta was delivered and things went sideways, she worked with them to keep me calm and informed and to help my husband with our daughter. I would not have wanted to have my husband busy with a camera, it is important to focus on that moment and be truly present. But I am very thankful that I had someone there who knew what she was doing and preserved those memories for us. It is such a crazy, emotional and overwhelming experience that I think I would have lost a lot more of my memories of the experience if I hadn't had those photos.

A couple of my friends from my pre-natal class had the delivery nurse or a student offer to take photos so that Dad could focus on the moment. In most healthy normally proceeding births, it's not that much of an interference to take photos. I'm sure that if things went badly, the type of person who would get in the way with a camera would probably find a way to mess things up without a camera too. I think that the hospital I gave birth in and the other one in my city seem to have a very different perspective on what the birthing experience should be about than other places appear to from what I read on here. It saddens me that the right to choice is being removed from so many women for the convenience of the hospital and legal issues from the lawsuit happy culture.

[deleted account]

Well, picture taking IS a liability issue. What the average untrained eye would see in a picture snapped as the baby's head is crowning, would be far different than the trained eye. Why should that picture be used in court when someone gets "sue happy"? I think it's sad that a policy like that needs to be in place, but I totally get why hospitals cover their asses too. Maybe if so many people didn't sue at the drop of a hat, then that policy wouldn't ever have been needed. I mean, if you were the hospital, getting constant threats of suits, getting sued constantly, spending millions defending yourself, wouldn't you CYA too??? Not every liability issue is an issue because of the hospital being at fault in any way. Some liability issues are issues because not everyone knows how to hold themselves accountable for their own actions, which basically forces hospitals and other medical professionals to go policy crazy. IMO.

Minnie - posted on 01/04/2011

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Well of course, Mary, that IS why I choose to birth at home :). That's how I roll. I too, am so glad I choose to have home births.



I've simply met too many medical professionals with condescending attitudes toward the feelings of pregnant women... and calling them stupid simply did not improve things.



Taking pictures is how my husband celebrated and took part in the birth of our daughter. He is not a touchy-feely type person, and neither am I. For him, taking pictures is how he enjoyed it!



And now there are two posters here who have said in their own words that medical professionals told them the picture taking was a liability. No pictures of one of the most important events in someone's life because an interventionistic screw-up might be caught by camera!



No, not every policy is necessary. I know you believe it is so, Mary, because of where you are coming from. But they are not all necessary. Some hospitals still abide by the policy of no food during labor. The hospital I was going to have my baby at, no water births...and now banning picture taking?

[deleted account]

We weren't allowed to take pictures at all from the time the doctor said "Ok, it's time" until Jacob was on the table being cleaned. Once they had him cleaned, that's when the nurse told Steve it was ok for him to take pictures. The hospital has a strict "no camera" policy. No pics of the baby crowning, or of Daddy cutting the umbilical cord, or of my son being put into my arms for the first time. I was surprised at first when I learned of the rule, but I understand also. It's a liability issue for the hospital. If something happens during delivery, any pictures taken of it can be misconstrued by an untrained eye. That's how it was explained to me by the L&D nurse who gave us our tour of the maternity ward when I was prego. To be honest, I didn't want any pictures taken of me at all during labor or delivery. I remember my poor Aunt Dottie tried to take a picture up close while I was having a horrible contraction and I gave her a devil look. I then went to the bathroom, took Steve with me and asked him to tell everyone to either stop taking pictures or leave. Everyone took that as their cue to leave lol



I don't know, filming and taking pictures of Jacob's birth just never appealed to me though. I didn't even want the mirror they offered so I could see him coming out of me.

Minnie - posted on 01/04/2011

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Oh yes, of course, I can understand that for some people having those first pictures isn't super important. It just rubs me the wrong way for hospitals to institute a no pictures allowed policy...on top of others...and for some to call people 'stupid' who want those pictures and say that they 'don't have their priorities straight'... I know that Mary works in labor and delivery and to have that attitude about the wishes of parents being unimportant at best and stupid at worst...just further paints the picture I have of medical professionals.

It is ok to not agree with a parent's wishes but to have no empathy and to say that they don't have their priorities straight and that they're obsessed...

Stifler's - posted on 01/04/2011

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That's what mine was like Nikki. They told me I was the mother and they weren't giving birth for me but would be there to support me. The doctor came in to give me an IV antibiotic after 18 hours of my water being broken, told me I was doing great and left. The water thing is a liability if the baby drowns etc. or there's an infection blah blah, I would have loved the hydrobath in the first stage of labour but it wasn't allowed at the time. We were too busy thinking about the baby to care about pics at the time anyway. I wish there were some I guess but Tamara wasn't really comfortable coming in where I was giving birth (she took all the pics of the bath etc. because Damo and I both needed a wash off).

Lacye - posted on 01/04/2011

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I didn't have a camera in the room with me but the hospital took pictures anyways with a digital camera and gave me the pictures. I have a great shot of the doctor holding Lily right after she had been pulled out, umbilical cord still attached! I have a couple good pics of me and her together. Of course I didn't remember them taking the pictures because I was just too wrapped up in looking at my daughter. lol.

Minnie - posted on 01/04/2011

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I think you hit it, Nikki. Policies policies policies...it IS taking away the autonomy of the birthing mother. I decided against a hospital birth when I was told I wouldn't be able to push my daughter out in the water. "Oh, you can labor there, but you have to get out. Don't worry, it's not much of a difference, not a big deal." Who are they to tell me what is a big deal or not? I also left because hospital policy is that nurses have to do cervical checks and fetal monitoring....in addition to the monitoring my midwife would have been doing.



It is not the health professionals' birth. It is the mother's.

Stifler's - posted on 01/04/2011

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Me either but it's an experience that I'll never forget. I remember Tamara going "what are we gonna do! Just chuck her in an ambulance and deliver in the carpark" and me yelling I'M NOT GOING ANYWHERE!!!

Nikki - posted on 01/04/2011

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Emma I can't believe the fire alarm went off, I am pissing myself right now! lol.

I don't really see a problem with the whole thing, if their only talking 5 minutes. I think the issue is that most mother's want to feel in control of the situation and when the hospital starts taking away choices it takes away our autonomy. I have pictures when my daughter was seconds old, but I don't know that it would have made any difference to me if I had to wait 5 minutes because she was placed straight on my chest and stayed there for a few hours, they didn't clean her or anything.

Minnie - posted on 01/04/2011

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When a friend had her baby the nurses forced her into a curled position to have an epidural- injuring her back in the process. All the while she shouted STOP STOP STOP, the baby is coming out! (into the mattress). Her husband was shouting at the nurses and at the anesthesiologist to stop as well. They hustled him out of the room and off the maternity floor. And tried to give her the epidural.



While hospitals are not EVIL they don't always have the most noble of intentions for their policies. There definitely is a load of CYA going on in the medical establishment.

Stifler's - posted on 01/04/2011

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There is no pics of my son's birth anyway since my husband had to help me stand up to deliver him then drama ensued, a fire alarm went off and was like WAAARP WARRRP EVACUATE TO THENEAREST EXIT ( I'm not kidding around) then the placenta was coming out and it went off again (false alarm both times and firemen turned up and I had a shower and they mucked around cutting the cord etc etc etc. There's no pics of his with a cord still only having his first bath by the midwife while I showered. I don't think they're doing it to hide any "truth". What truth? The truth is that I gave birth by myself... my body did all the work with the contractions and walking and hot shower the nurses are just there to support you not have the baby for you.

Lady Heather - posted on 01/04/2011

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We took pics in the delivery room but not during the birth. I wouldn't even want one of that. Eeew. My husband took a pic of my daughter and I right after she was born and then my midwife took a family pic. No one had any objections to that, but maybe they wouldn't have wanted pictures during the delivery. I really don't know. I can understand if the person taking the pictures is getting in the way, but it's usually just a family member standing off to the side, isn't it? We certainly didn't have a shortage of space in our delivery room so I don't see how it would even be a problem.

Erin - posted on 01/04/2011

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Like so many hospital policies, it IS about liability. It doesn't mean they're evil. It's certainly not the staff's fault. It is just the disappointing reality.

Caitlin - posted on 01/04/2011

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I carefully instructed my hubby that the only pictures allowed were when the baby was on me afterwards, and that was fine.. I didn't want ANY photos of the baby coming out, don't need that, i'll ALWAYS remember that one, but those beautiful photos of holding my goo-baby are so special. The picutres of them being weighed all naked, so perfect.. then bundled up and being cuddled by mom and dad - awesome.. I personally don't care whether other parents chose to capture the whole moment of not, as long as they don't show me pics or videos of it.. lol..

Jodi - posted on 01/04/2011

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Well, I for one, would have been pissed with my first birth. I had my husband and mother there as support people, my mother stood back and took pics of the "private" moments just after my daughter was born. From when they held her up still attatched, to the first moments she was laid on my naked chest, to the first latch, all with Daddy hovering at my head, stroking my hair, kissing my head and kissing our daughter's still goopy head. Those pictures mean so much to me, and if they hadn't of been allowed, I would have been seriously pissed.

I'm hoping for a homebirth this time around, unfortunately my twin girls are both transverse, so it's not looking good so far. With a homebirth, there will be no restrictions on video (I was not allowed to video anything, something about the nurse's rights to privacy or some such thing.) I do not think hospitals are evil, but I don't think they always have their priorities set, which is the mother AS WELL as the baby and what's best for both, and that includes emotionally and mentally. JMO.

Rosie - posted on 01/04/2011

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i guess i don't see how it distracts medical personell. i think i'ts stupid, but then again i'm not around people who get in staffs way to take a freaking picture. for me and my situation i would've been pissed if we weren't allowed pictures, in the first 5 min. my favorite pictures are the ones where my sons were placed on me- umbilical cord still attached, and covered in goo. i love looking at them.

now my husband didn't get enough pics i thought of our middle boys birth so i instructed more pictures with the last one. he went a teeny bit overboard catching him crowning, and nice closeup's of my crotch with baby hanging out. the walmart photo guys sure got an eyeful that day. on another note digital cameras are freaking AWESOME, lol!

Minnie - posted on 01/04/2011

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Huh, Mary....I guess my husband was too stupid to realize what his priorities were...according to you...as he happily took pictures of the first moments of our daughter's life at our home birth. I will forever treasure those photos. He took those pictures because it IS a miracle.



Ugh. No one said hospitals are evil. I personally will never plan a birth in one though. I didn't like my experience with my first and feel more comfortable in my home. I didn't like the policies, I didn't like strangers hovering, the checks, the monitoring and I didn't like being told what to do. That's that.



It wasn't inflammatory to suggest that they have that policy to hide a screw-up. Tara had it said to her by hospital personnel.



I do understand your bias though. I imagine it's hard to see the other side when one's livelihood is within the hospital setting. One wants to defend mainstream maternity care.



I assure you, neither myself nor my husband are stupid nor do we not have our priorities straight.

Mrs. - posted on 01/04/2011

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Moments just after pics, could be five minutes after which is what the hospital mentioned allowed. It's just five minutes of no photos. If you want to go all natural about it, you could say that is the ultimate back to nature method....we didn't give birth with cameras in the old days, guess any "natural" birth should be without cameras entirely to be authentic, right? ;)

Nicole - posted on 01/04/2011

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I told people at both of my births that only my husband (now ex) could be in the room, and no photos! No one listened to me on the no photos one. I told them they could only take pictures of the baby. No one listened.

It's not a huge deal but seeing people with video cameras and tons of people always weirded me out.

I had never thought about how video footage could be used in court if something went wrong.

Becky - posted on 01/04/2011

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I'd be one who was pissed if they didn't let us take pictures! So would my mom be! I don't have any pictures of my son's "head popping out of my swollen vagina" - ewww, but I do have pictures of just moments after - them holding him up with the cord still attached, and then him on my chest still all covered in goop. I love those pictures, even if anyone else thinks they're gross. I probably wouldn't change hospitals over it, because with my fast labors, going to a further away hospital means a risk of delivering in the car - but I would be mad. Maybe it'd be enough to convince dh to let me have a homebirth.

Mrs. - posted on 01/04/2011

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Sorry but I wanted no pics or (gasp) video of my daughter's head popping out of my swollen vagina. I didn't even want a mirror to look at it while I pushed. Not my bag, a lot of people really don't care either way. It certainly wouldn't make me decide to have a home birth. Popping my kid out is something seared in my memory, I don't need or want to display that to anyone afterward.

Jenn - posted on 01/04/2011

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I personally wouldn't want pics or video of my kids being born, but I think it's ridiculous to ban it.

Krista - posted on 01/04/2011

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Our hospital had no policy against photographs. Keith didn't try to take any when Sam was crowning/being born, because he was too caught up in actually seeing the moment. But when they were weighing Sam, the nurse actually reminded him, "Feel free to take some pictures, you know," which was really nice of her, because we now have those pictures of him when he's only a couple of minutes old.

If there was a policy against it, I doubt I'd change hospitals, because it would mean driving an extra hour. And when in labour, an hour-long drive to the hospital is bad enough. A two-hour long drive to the hospital? No thanks.

Katherine - posted on 01/04/2011

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IF, I ever have another it will NOT be in a hospital, unless like Lisa said it's life threatening.

Tara - posted on 01/04/2011

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AHA!!! I knew it would come to this one day.
When I had my first baby, no cameras were allowed in the delivery room, this was in 93, when I had my second, cameras were allowed (different hospital) when I had my third (back at the same hospital as baby #1) we wanted to film my labour and birth, I was allowed to film up until when I started pushing, then all cameras were to be turned off. I asked why and they told me (honestly at least) that it was for liability reasons. WTF?? So if they screw up, I don't have any footage of it? She said "well yes I guess"
So we were allowed to resume filming after the cord was cut and she was placed on my chest. But not before then.
I had home births for the last 3 babies and filmed and took still photos throughout my labour and births.
The midwives actually took pictures for me, and held the video camera when Steve was helping me with stuff.
I love my midwives and I love homebirthing.
Midwives aren't concerned with covering their asses, they believe in their ability to provide top notch care, and don't worry that something might go wrong and their client will sue them.
Doctors and hospital policies are slowly de-humanizing birth...
Parents need to take a stand. This is their birth, not the hospitals, not the OB's it is THEIR birth.

[deleted account]

I had a homebirth and would of clouted anyone who tried to take a photo of that magical moment!



It's up to the individual parent though. If they are happy and want photos then a ban is completely ridiculous.



As for "staff distraction" I can only see that being relevant in an emergency c-section scenario where lives are at stake. If your fighting for the right to film that, then you jeopardise yours and your babies life, no issue with a ban in those circumstances. Once they know the baby and mother are safe, click away.

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