It's every mother's worst nightmare: having their baby switched at the hospital. Yes, it still occurs, just not often. Sometimes just for a brief moment (like mother and writer Karin Tanabe's baby girl), and others for longer periods (like Mary Miller, who unknowingly raised the wrong daughter for 43 years). Hospitals obviously have security measures to prevent this from happening, but you can do your part to help reduce the risk of your baby being switched.
1. Prioritize your hospital
Every hospital has security, but you can alleviate your worries by knowing that the hospital and staff you choose has strict security measures in place.
Before you give birth, ask if you can tour where you will be delivering your bundle of joy. This way, you can get familiar with hospital staff and know the general layout and routine of the place. Feel free to ask about security procedures if you're curious.
3. Follow hospital protocol
The hospital will have an ID system in place to keep the babies with the correct mothers. Usually, the mother, father and baby will get matching ID bracelets (the baby gets theirs immediately after birth). Every time your baby is brought to you (like after she's been weighed, or he's had a test), your nurses will check if your newborn's ID number matches your number. You can also double-check. Sometimes babies are switched because their ID numbers are just one digit different from another mom's ID number.
4. Take a photo of your baby
Knowing you have a photo of your minutes-old newborn can ease your justified paranoia. You'll be able to study the cute photo and get familiar with their pink, puffy features so you can identify them by sight as well as by their ID bracelet. Also, note any unique moles or birth marks.
Your child can't be given to another family if they don't leave your room, right? While this may not be 100 percent possible during your entire hospital stay, you may be able to request any necessary testing to be done in your room to keep an eye on your darling baby.
6. Follow your baby around
If you aren't able to be with your baby during your whole hospital stay, see if a family member can. Ask the nurse to have your husband be there during the baby's bath and for other tests that can't be performed in your room. After you've given birth, ask your husband to follow the baby after delivery to make sure he or she isn't switched with another. Again, hospital security and protocol should prevent this from happening, but taking extra precautions can ease your mind.
Whenever your baby is returned (after any tests, or after and your hubby finally gets some rest), check their ID bracelet and verify their stats; their gender, their hair color, any distinguishing features etc. You can even request your child to be measured and weighed again to calm your anxieties.
8. Verify all hospital staff
Verify everyone who handles your newborn. Check for their name badge and confirm if their photo ID matches their face. You can even ask another staff member to double-check if your nurse truly is your nurse and not a volunteer or a stranger. Don't feel bad about being paranoid; this is your newborn and you and the right to keep your baby safe.
Again, the chances of your baby being switched are very rare - these precautions simply add another layer of security and relieve your concerns. As a new mom, your focus should only be on loving and caring for your adorable new baby.
Emily is putting her English and Humanities degree to use editing and writing all over the world. Trying to see all 7 world wonders (while visiting as many countries as she can in between), Emily loves wandering alleyways, beautifully photographed food, stumbling upon impromptu flea and food markets. She can usually be found camera in hand, munching on a street food and never has her headphones out of reach.