As a pregnant woman, you have many things on your mind: the excitement of birth, learning to care for your newborn, and finance, it is, therefore, important to talk about the unfortunate risk of infant/neonatal abduction (kidnapping) from hospitals, birthing centers or even your home which is not an uncommon occurrence.
Infant abduction occurs when a baby is taken away without the parents’ consent. It’s the same as kidnapping and creates an immediate crisis for all persons involved, including the hospital. It is thus important to be aware of the security system at the hospital, in addition to personal safety tips that may reduce the possibility of falling victim. Below are some tips to take into consideration:
- Understand your birth facility’s security system
Most birthing facilities have procedures and equipment set up to prevent the possibility of an abduction occurring. It is therefore important to ask the employees about the security procedures and baby-mother identification technique adopted, while also sticking to them
- Who can provide care for my baby? Become familiar with your nurse and other hospital staff who will be taking care of you and your newborn.
Due to the peculiarity of babies with respect to identification and health, only a few people are usually allowed access to them, it is important to know who they are and also, have an idea of the places your baby will be taken to, tests to be conducted and who ordered the tests during your hospital stay and you or anyone close to you may accompany your baby in such instance. Do not be scared to ask people who put themselves out as hospital staff members when your feel the need to.
- NEVER leave your baby alone in your room.
One error a lot of new mothers make is leaving their baby alone in the room, sometimes to run errands or even use the restroom. A baby who is alone and unmonitored can be easily taken. Thus, always ensure your baby is with you at all times or watched over by a trusted person. If to be left with someone else, ensure it is a trustworthy and reliable person.
Also, keep your baby close to you even when in the same room. The bassinet/ cot should be beside your bed and on the side farthest or more difficult to access from the door.
- Ensure family and friends visiting the hospital are aware of the safety procedures in place at the birthing facility. The policies may seem uncomfortable but are there to ensure you do not fall a victim to infant abduction and a failure to follow them may cause havoc.
- As soon as possible, find out what the policies are regarding family and friends visiting while you are in labor and during the rest of your stay. Please understand that these policies are not meant to inconvenience your family or friends in any way. They are part of infant security, so please follow the facility’s visitors’ policy.
The safety of infants and children generally exceeds the hospital grounds. Below are some further recommendations outside the hospital/ birthing facility.
- Do not place a birth announcement in the newspaper or on social media
- Do not give your address or telephone number to strangers.
- Do not put a sign announcing your baby’s birth on the front lawn.
- Never leave your baby unattended.
- Do not let people you do not know well into your home.