After Delivery: The Top 10 Things You Need to Do Once the Baby is Born

You carried that baby for nine (really 10) months. You got the nursery in order. You bought diapers and wipes and tiny onesies. Heck, you pushed that little creature out, but you are still not done crossing to-dos off your list! Here are 10 things you gotta get done ASAP once you've got that precious newborn in your arms.

1. Take the first picture. Then take a few dozen more so you have one acceptable for mass consumption. What the baby-hungry public wants most: First, the snuggly newborn all swaddled and precious. Second, the exhausted but exhilarated family shot.

2. Name that baby! Okay, you don’t have to leave the hospital with your child named, but it is a tad easier going that route. That said, don’t let the hospital pressure you to committing to a moniker you’re not yet sold on. Legally, you’re not required to choose a name for your newborn before you leave the hospital. However, your hospital does need to fill out a birth certificate, so it may go with the first and middle names blank. (Need help? Check out our Baby Namer.) 

3. Get a social security number. When you provide the info for your baby’s birth certificate, you’ll be asked if you want to apply for a Social Security number for your baby. Say yes! (It’s way easier than waiting till later.)

4. Call, text, Facebook the world. People are dying to know! Be sure to have your to-call/to-text list with you at the hospital, knowing that your partner may be the one doing the deed. Here’s what the baby-waiting public wants to know, in order of importance: Health, gender, name, photo, birth stats.

5. Send in your cord blood. If you opted to privately store your child’s cord blood, you’ll likely need to contact the cord bank and let them know the goods are ready to go. They’ll in turn send a courier to the hospital for pick-up or inform you how to get the cord blood to them in a timely fashion. (If you are donating to a public bank and your hospital is a participant in the National Marrow Donor Program, you won’t have to make the pick-up call.)

4. Prove you’re married. If you are wed to your partner, but don’t share a last name, you may be required to show a marriage certificate before the hospital will add him to the birth certificate.

5. Call the pediatrician. You may not need to let your pediatrician know that your baby has arrived (the hospital staff often does that), but you will need to make your little one’s first official in-office appointment. "The baby’s doctor usually makes a trip to the hospital to do the baby’s first exam within 24 hours of birth," says Ari Brown, M.D., an Austin, TX-based pediatrician and author of Expecting 411. "The follow-up in the pediatrician’s office is normally between 24 and 48 hours after discharge." Large hospitals have staff pediatricians that do these observations as well.

6. Contact your health insurance. "Tell your insurance as soon as there’s a birthdate and name," urges Dr. Brown. "Don’t assume your 'family plan' will just pick up the tab once they figure out a baby has been born by the bills coming in! I’ve had several families get a big surprise at their child’s two-month visit, learning that their baby is not covered on their plan because they never called the insurance.”

7. Reach out to a lactation consultant. Some hospitals have certified lactation consultants on staff or a "warm" line that you can call with questions. Others have nurses who are trained in breastfeeding support. That's a good start, but once you head home, that’s often when problems like poor latch and cracked nipples begin. Because of this, Dr. Brown recommends having a referral for a lactation consultant lined up so you can make that call should you need help. "Getting help early is always best," she says.

8. E-mail work. Yes, they’re excited to hear the news! But also, the maternity leave wheels need to be set in motion, so contact your superior and a human resources representative asap. Ask them if the following is all on file and if they need any additional paper work from you: Medical Leave Act application, state family leave application, vacation time request, sick leave request, tax forms, plus any additional forms for your doctor or your pediatrician that may need to be completed.

9. Make your circumcision decision. Hopefully you and yours came to cut-or-not-to-cut conclusion before you gave birth. If you didn't, it’s wise to call it before you get discharged. Circumcision is routinely done just before the baby is sent home from the hospital, most often it’s performed by the OB, but possibly the pediatrician or family doc. “If you’re having a religious brit milah, you will want to have a plan to call in a mohel for that ceremony on day 8,” says Dr. Brown. While you can have your child circumcised later, once the baby is older than 6 weeks and weighs 12 pounds-plus, the procedure must be done under general anesthesia in the OR.

10. Get up-to-date on SIDS. Sudden infant death syndrome is the leading cause of death among infants 1 month to 1 year old. While the exact cause of SIDS is unknown, there are many ways shown to help avoid it. Every brand-new parent should be versed in prevention before leaving the hospital. Ask your nurse or doctor about it, and click here.

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