You’ve prepped the nursery, packed your hospital bag, and you’re ready to welcome your little one with open arms. But if you plan on having your baby in a hospital, your newborn is going to get more than that pristine yellow onesie and the life-sized teddy bear that has been lurking in the corner of your living room for eight months.
Here’s a list of things your baby will get before you even set foot outside the hospital:
1. A vitamin K shot
Hospitals routinely give this shot to babies immediately after birth to prevent the risk of internal hemorrhaging Most newborns are born with insufficient vitamin K, which is needed to help blood clot properly. The shot holds babies over until about 6 months of age, when they start getting adequate vitamin K from food sources. Some parents have started refusing the shot, but experts warn that skipping it could have potentially fatal results for your child.
2. Antibiotic eye drops
Antibiotic eye drops are routinely applied to every newborn’s eyes just after birth, mostly to prevent their contracting sexually transmitted diseases that could cause an eye infection and subsequent blindness. Why does your child need the drops even if you don’t have an STD? It’s a public health issue, and because most states mandate that every newborn get the eye drops, opting out is difficult. The eye drops tend to make your baby’s eyes a little blurry (but they don’t hurt or harm them in any way), so if you talk to your doctor and nurses beforehand, some hospitals will let you wait until after you’ve had a few hours to bond with your baby to administer the drops. This way, your baby can stay alert and you can maximize your time together.
3. First bath
Ever wonder how your baby comes back to you from the nursery all doe-eyed and fresh smelling when just moments ago she was covered in blood and placental matter? Once your baby is whisked off to the nursery, she’ll receive her first sponge bath.
4. First pacifier, hat, onesie and blanket
I’m sure you’ve seen all these newborn accoutrements adorning myriad newborns on Facebook. When your baby comes back to you from the nursery, he’ll have a funny blue pacifier, a little ski hat and a onesie, and he’ll probably be swaddled in a standard hospital newborn blanket. If you have a willing nursery nurse, she’ll explain the secrets of swaddling to you (or you can always watch a YouTube video). In some hospitals, you can even take the blanket home and try to recreate the magic of a good swaddle yourself come 3 a.m.
5. A birth certificate
If you have a name picked out before you leave the hospital and can enter it on all the hospital paperwork, the hospital staff will complete the birth certificate and Social Security number application for you. If you haven’t decided on a name before you leave, you’ll have to file it yourself — provide ample documentation that you are indeed the child’s parents, fill out lots of forms and wait in a good old-fashioned line.
6. A security sensor
Every newborn gets a security sensor around his ankle (think of it as a miniature prison cuff). To prevent stolen babies, the sensor will cause an alarm to sound anytime a baby is taken out of the maternity ward. Our discharge nurse forgot to take our son’s off before we left the hospital, and it set off quite a panic when we tried to take him home!
7. A hearing screening
This painless procedure allows for early intervention if any hearing loss is detected. Don’t freak out if your baby fails the hearing test in the hospital; it’s relatively common for babies to fail because of fluid in their ears from delivery. A follow-up test will rule out any lingering hearing loss.
If you’re lucky, you might also go home with lots of other goodies from the nurses: formula, diapers, wipes, pacifiers, a nasal aspirator — everything to get you through those first couple days at home with your newborn. Is there something you need and don't have? Well, that’s what 24-hour pharmacies are for.