You just had your baby. What should you expect?

0-10 after the baby is born

Names/Birth Certificates
Right after your baby is born, the hospital will ask you to provide information for the baby’s birth certificate. You do not have to provide this birth certificate information or fill out the declaration of paternity at the hospital. If you need more time, you can wait. Typically, you have 10 days after the baby is born to choose a name and fill out the birth certificate. Once you file the birth certificate, however, it is difficult to make changes to it. Find out more about the birth certificate here.

Paternity/Naming the Father
The hospital will ask for information about your baby’s father. The hospital also may ask you to fill out a declaration of paternity before you leave. It is important to know that there are legal consequences for the person named as father in a declaration of paterntiy. For more information on the rights and responsibilities of fathers and mothers, click hereFind out more about the declaration of paternity here.

Social Security Numbers
Social security numbers are very helpful. You can request a social security number for your baby at the hospital or at a social security office. Your baby can get a social security number even if you don’t have one. For information on social security numbers and immigration, click here.

If you decide to place your baby for adoption, you (and the birth father, if he is involved) must sign the legal papers after the baby is born. You may have a short period of time to change your mind after you have signed the papers; but whether you have time and how long you have depends on how the adoption is arranged. So it’s good to know ahead of time. For more information, click here.

Safe Surrender
If you cannot or do not want to keep your baby after he or she is born, you can drop the baby off at a safe place, called a safe surrender site (you must do this within three days of the child’s birth), or arrange for the baby to be adopted. If you drop the baby off at a safe surrender site, you have 14 days to change your mind and get the baby back. For more information on safe surrender and the timeline, click here.

Baby’s health insurance
Depending on the kind of health insurance you have when the baby is born, your baby may be covered by your insurance without you having to do any paperwork – or you may need to fill out some paperwork to get your baby covered. Click here for more information about getting your baby on health insurance.

10 days and beyond:

Some things to think about

  • You can get a certified copy of your baby’s birth certificate about three months after the proper forms are filed.
  • It may be helpful to start thinking about and making your childcare plan for when you return to school and/or work. There is some help available. For more information, click here.
  • You have a right to get help with going back to school as a parenting student. Click here for more information.
  • It is good to think about whether official or unofficial custody or visitation plans might be helpful to work out between the two parents. Click here for more information.

What custody rights does a father have?

Click here for more information on custody and parent rights.

Am I emancipated once I have a baby?

No. Having a baby does not emancipate you. Click here for more on emancipation.

Is my baby a citizen?

If your baby is born in the United States, your baby is a citizen of the United States of America. Click here for more information about immigration.

For more information about what you can expect after your baby is born, go to the Youth Legal Guide and visit the “Becoming a Parent” and “Raising a Family” sections.