In this photo taken on June 28, 2013 a baby sleeps as passengers prepare to board a carriage on the Sydney Monorail at a stop in Sydney's Darling Harbour tourist precinct. (AFP / Greg Wood)

Online posts misrepresent video of routine birth procedure as Covid-19 ‘abuse’

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A video of a mother and her newborn baby purportedly separated by a plastic sheet has been viewed thousands of times in posts that claim it shows medical “child abuse” justified by the pandemic. The claim is misleading: the baby's mother and various doctors told AFP the video shows a routine birthing procedure unrelated to coronavirus restrictions.

The video has been viewed more than 3,900 times in this Facebook posted published on March 25, 2021.

“This is now Insane. A new borns first touch delivered in plastic. This is child abuse, they know the importance of a babys first touch, this is all designed to de humanize the World. Only you can stop this madness (sic),” the caption reads.

The footage shows a woman wearing a mask and surgical cap looking at a baby through a transparent drape.

A screenshot of the misleading post, taken on May 3, 2021.

Comments on the post indicate people believed that the procedure shown in the video was related to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“My daughter was born in the midst of Covid, in the middle of the very first national lockdown. I got skin to skin contact straight away and nothing or nobody would have stopped that. I wouldn't allow it. My point - Even Covid isn't a valid excuse for this!!” one person wrote.

The same video was also shared alongside a similar claim here and here on Facebook; and here on Instagram.

However, the claim is misleading.

Routine surgery

Keyword searches found an identical video was posted by lifestyle content creator Melina Tesi here on Instagram on March 26, 2021.

In the post, Tesi clarified that she was the woman in the video.

“I posted this video on tiktok and it went viral in the worst way, now tiktok removed it,” she wrote.

“So now let me explain for everyone freaking out about the plastic drape, it’s a clear drape for mom to watch the baby be born and once they wipe off the blood and cut the cord they wrap him up and bring him to me.

“The drape is there for sterile reasons it is a SURGERY.”


A post shared by Melina Tesi (@melinatesibeauty)

Unrelated to Covid-19

Contacted by AFP, Tesi said the procedure seen in her video had “nothing to do with” Covid-19.

“My baby was not wrapped in plastic, I had a very normal “gentle C section” surgery procedure and part of that is using a clear drape for a few seconds giving the mom the ability to watch the baby be born,” she said in an email on March 30, 2021.

“The clear drape has NOTHING to do with Covid. There’s a drape there at all times during a c section for sterile purposes”.

Doctors said it was standard procedure to use a surgical drape during caesarean deliveries.

“This fabric allows us to create a barrier to keep things hygienic in the area where the operation is happening,” said Olivier Picone, member of the French National College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians (CNGOF).

He said there were different kinds of surgical drapes, including ones “with little windows that open” or “with transparent parts so the patient can see the baby come out”.

The transparent drape in the video can be seen, for example, in this article from 2018.

In the video, “we can see the obstetrician holding the baby up to the drape so the mum can see it better,” Alexandre Farin, head of obstetricians at Riviera-Chablais hospital in Switzerland.

The pandemic did not significantly alter birthing surgery procedures, according to Owen Stock, an obstetrician at The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.

“We would still be able to do the delayed cord clamping, she would still be able to see her baby being born, and we still keep babies and mums together so we don't separate them,” Stock said in a phone interview on April 30, 2021.

Mothers who have Covid-19 can and should be supported to touch and hold their newborn babies, the World Health Organization said.

“You should wash your hands before and after touching your baby, and keep all surfaces clean. Mothers with symptoms of COVID-19 are advised to wear a medical mask, during any contact with the baby,” the WHO said in this advisory.

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