I am a new dad to be, this July! A friend of mine had her first born son in a hospital. As soon as he was born, they forcefully whisked him from her to run lab tests and so on. A few hours later, they brought back the wrong baby. (This was corrected within a few minutes, but is still super scary). This was a few years ago, and I know hospitals have come a long way. However, it leaves me with a slight paranoia that when my son is born, the hospital might take him away and switch him out by accident.

We're going with a midwife so this is not likely, but if we had to go to a hospital, I was told by another friend that by law, they cannot take the child out of our site without our consent. Does anyone know what law they may have been referring to? I'd like to read up on it and be educated!

  • We live in NC, but our midwife is in VA since midwifery is not legal here. Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 14:38
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    Just as an anectdote: Our baby was born in a German hospital, and no one ever tried to take her away from us. The first checkup (APGAR and U1) was performed by the midwife shortly after birth and without leaving the room. All the other checkups can wait a few days.
    – sleske
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 12:47
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    For a law to apply, we'd need to understand the jurisdiction that you're under Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 14:46
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    @warren You're right. I should have said it is possible to do, but there are a lot more hoops to go through down here, which discourages most people from going into that field. Commented May 3, 2016 at 18:40
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the question is about legal issues (see the help center). Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 12:40

2 Answers 2


Legally, no medical procedures can be done to minors without parental consent (with exceptions in some states for contraceptive care for teenagers). In practice, doctors who claim emergency medical necessity can basically do what they think is necessary. For more legal advice than that general information, you should ask a lawyer.

I recommend you air these concerns with your care provider. A birth plan that clearly states that the baby is to stay with the parents at all times can help make your expectations clear. And yes, you should have a contingency birth plan for a hospital birth, and know what hospital you will go to in that event.

If anyone tries to take your baby after birth, the non-birthing parent (I'm assuming a couple here since you say "we" but make this another trusted adult if there is only one parent in the picture and that parent has just given birth.) should plan to follow the baby and insist on the baby being in his or her sight at all times. Usually though, blood tests etc can be done in the postnatal recovery room with the parents there, and the hospital should be able to honor that request.

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    Excellent answer. I would add that you should also ask for the hospital procedure. Besides 'one parent with baby at all times', our babies both had a hospital armband on the ankle asap. (The one that state your name and DOB. I think it might have had my name/DOB as 'mother', so they had it ready before baby was born). In addition, the baby arm/foot band had a radio tag on, no one could take the baby out of the maternity ward before we were let go. (no baby-stealers!).
    – Ida
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 21:44

As naomisl said, legally they can't do anything without your consent, and they have a lot of checks and balances to make sure the right baby gets matched with the right parents. However, a lot of that consent also comes by way of the forms you sign when you are first admitted, in addition to sort of rushed "okays" you give when they ask a question like, "We're going to take him to run some tests, okay?" before you really realize what's going on.

Doctors and nurses are accustomed to the activity, but for you, it will be a lot to process all at once, especially if a hospital birth was not your plan, and you're only there due to complications. There's all the emotions: excitement of having a new baby, worry about the complications, etc. Dads are tired and moms are exhausted and in tremendous pain. And in this state you're getting what feels like rapid fire questions, being asked to make important medical decisions.

When your mind is in that kind of state, it doesn't really matter what the law says, because trust me, you won't be able to think it through in the moment. You need to make a plan now that if a nurse asks to take the baby to another room, that dad will stay with the baby, and grandma will stay with mom, or whatever arrangement works for you.

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