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GET PREPARED
Here's great advice from midwives, obstetricians and new moms.
- Pre-registering and Paperwork
- Identification Bands
- Tests After Birth
- Birth Certificates/Social Security Numbers

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Pre-registering and Paperwork

Most hospitals recommend pre-registering well in advance of your due date to get the paperwork out of the way. The paperwork generally consists of:

  • Consent forms
  • Insurance information
  • Personal information (i.e., your address, Social Security number, emergency contacts)

In addition to processing papers, many hospitals offer regular tours of the maternity ward. If you have time, it's a good idea to take advantage of this so you have a sense of what’s around you when you are having the baby.

Some maternity centers have monthly open houses where expectant mothers can mingle, fill out preregistration forms, and get used to the labor and delivery area.

WHN TIP: Get familiar

Be familiar with the parking, how to access the maternity ward, and where to go if you arrive after hours (at many hospitals you'll need to enter through the emergency room entrance).

What If You Don’t Pre-register?
Most hospitals allow you to take care of paperwork after the baby is born. Your birthing partner, spouse or family member can take care of forms that need immediate attention.

ID Bands

After your baby is born, ID bands with matching numbers are placed on mom, baby and one other person of mom's choice. ID bands are checked every time your baby goes to and from the nursery. Only authorized staff with hospital IDs move babies.

Tests After Birth

WHN TIP: Before the Baby

Read information about possible vaccines and tests. It may feel overwhelming to learn these after the birth.

Testing requirements vary state by state, though all states require newborn metabolic screening for phenylketonuria (PKU) and hypothyroidism. States and hospitals may also require tests such as sickle cell anemia, galactosemia and homocystinuria. Ask your doctor what tests your state and hospital run - they may differ, so ask about both. Below is a list of the most commonly performed tests:



Antibiotic Ointment
An ointment is placed in your baby's eyes shortly after birth to treat any bacteria present in the eyes that could lead to blindness. The law requires this preventive step.

Apgar
Apgar is an acronym for Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance, and Respiration (APGAR). Your baby's Apgar is scored at birth, and again five minutes after birth, using an Apgar scoring method of 1-10, 10 being a perfect score. Registered nurses assess the baby's heart rate, respiration rate, color and other factors.

Blood Type
Blood is taken from the umbilical cord to check the baby's blood type and to screen for syphilis, which is required by law.
Some states also test for:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Galactosemia
  • Homocystinuria

Hearing screening
Most newborns will receive at least one and possibly two screening tests to determine if he or she has a moderate to severe hearing loss. You and your pediatrician will receive formal reports of your baby's hearing results.

  • Otoacoustic emission (OAE) screenings are conducted in the nursery. A soft earphone is placed in your baby's ear canal. Sounds emitted through the earphone stimulate the ear and cause a measurable echo. If an echo is not detected, an additional screening test may be performed.
  • Automated auditory brainstem evoked response (AABR) screening involves placing electrodes on the infant's head, neck and shoulders stimulating the hearing through earphones and measuring the electrical activity generated by the ear in response to sound. If additional information is required after these two screenings, you will be referred to your pediatrician for follow-up.

Hepatitis B
Your baby may have her/his first of three hepatitis B vaccines while in the hospital. Discuss the need for all immunizations with your pediatrician or pediatric nurse practitioner.

PKU
This blood test is a screening measure for possible phenylketonuria, a problem with metabolism that could lead to mental retardation if not addressed. The test is done shortly after birth; talk with the doctor about additional test schedules.

  • The blood is usually drawn from the heel and it may help if the feet are warm at the time.
  • Vitamin K
    Your baby receives an injection of vitamin K shortly after birth to help the blood clot properly.

    Birth Certificates and Social Security Numbers

    The hospital will ask you to provide information for your child's birth certificate, and then send that information to the agency in charge of recording births (usually the state health department). At the same time, you can request one or more copies of the birth certificate, which will be mailed to you once the birth has been recorded (usually within a few weeks).

    Once you receive your copy of the birth certificate, check it for errors. Find one? Contact the agency. You may need to contact the hospital or fill out an application for change and provide paperwork to the agency.

    Not Married

    If you’re not married, you have many choices regarding paternity. These are starter ideas; if you have questions, contact a legal advisor.

    • If you want the father’s name on the birth certificate you and the father sign a paternity affidavit in the presence of a notary public. The hospital submits this to the state with the birth certificate.
    • Leave the father information blank on the birth certificate. Add the father's name at any time in the future if the father is willing to sign a paternity affidavit. (You are not required to give any information regarding the baby's father).
    • Give the baby any last name you wish, but you will be the baby's only legal guardian.
    • For more information on the paternity options, contact a legal advisor.

    Social Security Number: How to Get One for Your Child

    It's important to apply for a Social Security number for your child soon after birth because the Internal Revenue Service requires that you report the Social Security numbers of all children you are claiming as exemptions on your income tax return.

    You can apply for your child's Social Security number through the hospital when you get a copy of the birth certificate. If not, contact your local Social Security office (check your local telephone directory) or call the Social Security Administration (SSA) at (800) 772-1213. Ask for a Form SS-5 or download it at the SSA Web site.

    Remember ...

    The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical or legal advice. These tips are from doctors, nurses and people who have shared real-life advice; always check with a lawyer, doctor or appropriate professional you trust before making any legal or health care-related decisions.

    Thank you ...

    A special thank you to the industry professionals, doctors, nurses, midwives, moms, dads, and families who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice.


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