In a heartwarming viral TikTok video, a newborn from Wales is seen posing for his newborn photo session in the most adorable way—but what sets him apart from typical newborns is his spina bifida diagnosis. Baby Noah’s parents decided to celebrate their child’s uniqueness and strength through his newborn photos, and the photographer shared a video of the experience that means so much to so many people. Many fellow spina bifida parents—and people with the condition themselves—are commenting on how meaningful this video is to them.
“The most unique newborn session that we’ll never forget,” writes photographer Sally Gillard in the video’s caption. “To be trusted with creating Noah’s first portraits was an absolute honour. We can’t wait to see his finished images back in the studio, and to watch him grow (he’s already booked in for his cake smash).”
Spina bifida is a congenital condition in which the neural tube, the embryonic structure that develops into the brain and spinal cord, doesn’t close properly during early pregnancy. This condition can vary in severity, but it often results in damage to the spinal cord and nerves. It can lead to physical disabilities and health complications, making life’s journey more challenging for those affected.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are three main types of spina bifida:
- Spina Bifida Occulta: This is the mildest and most common form of spina bifida. In this type, one or more of the vertebrae in the spinal column do not fully close, but the spinal cord and its covering remain intact. This form often goes unnoticed because it typically does not cause symptoms or require treatment.
- Meningocele: In this less common form, a sac of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) protrudes through an opening in the vertebrae, creating a bulge or cyst on the baby’s back. However, the spinal cord itself is not exposed, and nerve damage is less likely. Surgical repair is usually required to close the opening and protect the exposed sac.
- Myelomeningocele: This is the most severe and disabling form of spina bifida. In myelomeningocele, a portion of the spinal cord and the protective covering (meninges) protrude through the open area in the back. This condition can result in significant nerve damage, leading to varying degrees of paralysis, bowel and bladder problems, and sensory deficits below the level of the spinal defect. Surgical intervention is crucial shortly after birth to close the opening and prevent infection.
The comments section of the TikTok video posted by Gillard Studios is filled with support from parents who know what this journey is like firsthand.
“As the momma of 2 babies with Spina Bifida, this melts my heart! I wish I had been brave enough to have their newborn pictures done.”
“Fellow Spina Bifida mommy here, thank you for making accommodations for our special babies.”
“I was born with spina bifida. Thank you for making accommodations for this little one. I loved watching.”
“I had my first baby with spina bifida in the studio last year! What a honor for parents to trust with their special babies. beautiful photos!”
“I have spina bifida and im happy to see little kiddos getting pictures too.”
“I sent this to my fiancé, who has spina bifida. He replied ‘I genuinely cannot love this enough.’”
If we’ve learned anything from experiences and journeys like this one, it’s that representation matters—and everyone deserves to feel represented.