September is National Newborn Screening Month so I figured this would be the best time to tell you all about my Newborn Screening experience at a Free-Standing Birth Center. I’ll answer a few Frequently Asked questions and then tell you all about my experience and questions you may want to ask your midwife if you’re at a Free Standing Birth Center.
What is Newborn Screening?
NBS is a system that helps tell whether your baby is at increased risk for certain serious medical conditions. The screening involves a blood test, often incorrectly referred to as the PKU test but better known as the heel-stick test. It also involves a hearing screen. NBS is usually performed when your baby is 24-48 hours old, but sometimes later if your baby was born early. If your baby is born prematurely, the test may be done at 24-48 hours of birth and repeated when your baby is full-term.
Some states also do a Pulse Oximetry screening between 24-48 hours after birth. Timing is key for this one and can help detect heart defects that go unnoticed.
You can find more frequently asked questions on the Save Babies Through Screening Foundation website.
What is screened for varies from state to state. You can see what your state tests for here.
What’s a Free Standing Birth Center?
A Free Standing Birth Center is a birth center run by midwives. It is not attached to a hospital however your midwife may or may not have privileges at the local hospital.
Questions to Ask Your Midwife:
My Personal Experience
When I had Mason I didn’t know much about Newborn Screening, I knew that they existed, I knew that Mason got them and I knew that or rather assumed that his results came back good.
With Kyla it was a different story. I knew A LOT more about Newborn Screening thanks to the Saves Babies Through Screening Foundation and Baby’s First Test. I knew that because I was going to be at a Free Standing Birth Center that things would be a little different. I asked my midwife about the PKU test and was happy to find out that she could do them. It cost slightly more but it was money well spent.
For the Hearing Test I was referred to our local University. I waited a long time to do the test around 6 months. It just took me time to get around to doing it and I was confidant that she could hear. I was correct, she COULD hear, however I HIGHLY recommend doing it shortly after birth because it is MUCH easier to get done when they’re not as squirmy or vocal!
The Pulse Ox test was a little bit of a different story. My midwife *did* have one but she most likely wouldn’t get to me until 48+ hours after birth so she allowed me to take the Pulse Ox machine home so that I could preform the test on my own.
About 36 hours after Kyla’s birth with the help of my Mom we did the Pulse Ox and tested her O2 levels.
I breastfed her while we did the test to help keep her calm. This is certainly an option for any breastfeeding mother!
I’m a “better safe than sorry” kind of person especially when it comes to things that aren’t invasive and newborn screening isn’t invasive at all. I encourage you to learn more about newborn screening especially if you’re Trying to Conceive or Pregnant!