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Most NICU's allow parents to visit at any time during the day or night. Some units make the exception of no visitation during handover, since every baby has the legal right to privacy and therefore your baby's privacy also needs to be protected. For this reason, you are only allowed to visit your own baby and take photographs or video of your own baby. Still for the same reason information regarding a baby will only be given to the parents and not to relatives, friends or even your GP.

Infection is a great risk to your little one, since she does not have the immunity yet to protect herself. There are certain measures in place to protect the babies. Some units do not allow siblings or grandparents to visit because of the risk of infection and the limited space in the unit. In all units there are a hand washing protocol and you will be informed on that, almost immediately after admission of your baby. You have to wash your hands at basins provided, every time you enter the unit and spray them with a disinfecting hand spray that you will find at your baby's bedside. If you have an infection yourself, talk to the doctor or sister to discuss the management. You might not be allowed to visit your baby for a few days, but this is for her protection. During this time you may however phone at any time to inquire about her welfare.

You may feel very disappointed for not being able to have your baby with you. To make this easier you can do the following: you may bring a toy for your baby, but it must be new. If your baby is very small she may be over stimulated by music, therefore a quiet toy may be more applicable. You will get more information on premmie stimulation in the section on "Interacting with your baby". Check the visiting hours for your specific unit with the unit manager and find out about the protocol regarding visits from family members such as grandparents and siblings. Also, ask the unit manager to inform you on where and when doctors can be contacted and what the protocol is on staff working with your baby. Is there a primary nurse looking after your baby or will it be different people all the time. Are you allowed in the unit during procedures performed on your baby? If this is different from your need, please discuss it with the unit manager.

Please contact the unit manager or ward secretary to get the information applicable to the unit where your baby is admitted.

ACCOMMODATION:

Mom can stay in the maternity unit until her gynaecologist discharges her. Thereafter some hospitals offer a lodging facility, which means that mom can stay in the maternity unit or another dedicated area as a "guest" and not as a patient anymore. A small fee is usually applicable for this service, since it is similar to renting a room from someone. Usually there is accommodation available close to the hospital as well. Ask the ward secretary to give you a list of the available accommodation for families of patients in the hospital and about the lodging and rooming-in policy of the hospital.

BIRTH REGISTRATION:

Every baby born in South Africa above the age of 28 weeks gestation, weighing more than 800 g and that showed any signs of life at birth, has to be registered at the Department of Home Affairs. This is an activity for the dads (if possible), because registration can be done while mom and your newborn are still in hospital. Within 25 days of your baby's birth, you have to register her. It is important to register your baby as soon a possible, since registration with the medical aid can only be done once you have a birth certificate as proof of birth. The process is very simple. When you arrive at the offices of Home Affairs, you fill out a form for birth registration. These forms contain information such as the parents' details and identity numbers. There is no cost to register a baby.

Online Government Services: Download the BI-154 form from the Department of Home Affairs website.

An alternative option offered by some hospitals is that you can register your baby at the hospital at a minimal cost and then you will receive the birth certificate by mail.

Private Service Providers (Little Steps only provides the links and does not support or suggest any of the services):

Bunny Hop frustration free registration (KZN and Pretoria only);

MEDICAL AID REGISTRATION

It is the parents' responsibility to register the baby on the medical aid as soon as possible (within 3-7 days from the date of birth). WHAT TO DO?

  • Notify your medical aid of your baby's condition.
  • Order a provisional birth certificate on the instruction form, which you must submit to your medical aid.
  • Inform them that you will call them with your baby's ID number, as soon as you receive the birth certificate.

Your baby will receive a "Road to Health" card in the hospital at birth. This card contains information about the baby's birth and immunisations. It is important that you receive this card on discharge and keep it safe; for no children are allowed into public schools without this prove of immunisations.

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