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8 ways to avoid getting your baby accidentally switched at the hospital
: It doesnt happen very often but it still happens. - photo by Emily Cummings
It's every mothers 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 Tanabes 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.

2. Take a hospital tour

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 youre 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 shes been weighed, or hes had a test), your nurses will check if your newborns 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 moms ID number.

4. Take a photo of your baby

Knowing you have a photo of your minutes-old newborn can ease your justified paranoia. Youll 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.

5. Keep your baby in sight

Your child cant be given to another family if they dont 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 cant be performed in your room. After youve 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.

7. Know your babys stats

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. Dont 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.
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