Official Guide to Being the First Baby of the New Year

News Archive December 29, 2010

Official Guide to Being the First Baby of the New Year

Medical Expert Explains the Rules of the Game
MELROSE PARK, Ill. -- No birth is as widely anticipated nor reported as the first baby of the new year. “The race to have the first baby is something all hospitals share enthusiasm for, especially in large cities like Chicago, and, unfortunately, not all hospitals play fair,” said Karen Deighan, MD, OB/GYN, director of OB/GYN at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of the Loyola University Health System. “Hospital staff feel a great sense of pride at the recognition of birthing the first baby, and many parents like the special distinction it gives them and their child,” she said. One second can mean the difference of a tax deduction ($850 or more) this coming February or waiting until February 2012. “I have never had a parent ask me to schedule or induce a pregnancy to meet a tax deadline,” Dr. Deighan said. “But in this tight economy, I am sure there are many who would opt for the tax deduction over the title of Parent of the New Year Baby.” Dr. Deighan said Chicago births in 2009 were reportedly down by 16 percent and she sees that trend reflected at Gottlieb and Loyola. “There are still plenty of women with due dates this season, but the field is definitely narrowing,” she said. “Everyone should want a healthy baby and mother, first and foremost,” she said, adding, “You may lose the race for the first baby of the new year, but you are in good shape to win the record for lifetime achievement.” Here is a playbook from Dr. Deighan on understanding the game of “First Baby of the New Year.” Who Makes the Call? - The circulating nurse makes the official call on the time of delivery. “There’s no uniform clock or official system of timekeeping that I know of. We don’t all synchronize our clocks with each other on a certain day or hour,” Dr. Deighan said. “Parents of January 1st babies are more likely to report their child’s birth in relation to midnight, such as ‘one hour after midnight,’ or ‘90 seconds after midnight’ to get proximity to the new year.” Defining What Constitutes “Born” - Unlike a basketball in a hoop or a football carried across the goal line, the definition of when a baby is officially born may confuse the layman. “The time of birth is always called when the baby is completely outside of the mother,” Dr. Deighan said. “It is not when the cord is cut, or the head crowns.” Proof Positive - “Most hospitals do not allow births to be filmed for legal reasons as well as for safety reasons, and certainly a film is not required to be submitted for proof as there is no overarching regulation group. It is kind of the honor system,” said Dr. Deighan, who readily volunteers that there will always be grumbling dissent from competing hospitals. Smile for the Camera - “The media always wants to interview the mother and photograph the baby but that requires signed consent from both parents for themselves and again as guardians for the baby,” Dr. Deighan said. “Often, what is publicized as the first baby of the new year, is actually the first baby whose parents gave the hospital permission for publicity.” Extra! Extra! - Members of the media routinely call hospital media representatives around midnight in a competition to be the first outlet to announce the baby. “Hospital media members are in constant contact with nurses in their birth unit, and they are the ones to alert the media,” Dr. Deighan said. The Spoils of Victory - “The first baby born at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital is presented with a gift basket of clothing and toys, regardless of the time of delivery,” said Dr. Deighan, acknowledging that occasionally local businesses may also contribute a gift. “Getting a lifetime of diapers, or a college scholarship is pretty rare; just having the media publicity is usually the reward.” Physicians, medical staff and hospitals do not receive any monetary benefit from the distinction of delivering the first baby of the year but welcome the publicity. “Loyola in Maywood had the first baby of Chicago in 2009, and everyone at the hospital liked seeing our name in the papers and on camera for such a happy occasion,” she said. Ways to Cheat - “If a patient is actively in labor, there may be encouragement for her to hold off on that final last push during the final clock countdown to the new year,” Dr. Deighan said, adding that if a mother is overdue, inducement of labor could be orchestrated with the new year. “A physician could also perform a strategically scheduled Caesarean section,” said Dr. Deighan, who added that she has never timed delivery or surgery to coincide with the new year. Like many hospitals, Loyola and Gottlieb will not unnecessarily perform a C-section before a healthy baby is 39 weeks. “We really only perform C-sections when there is a specific medical reason to safeguard the health of mother and child,” she said. Many “Firsts” - “There may be one baby that is proclaimed as the official first baby born in Chicago, but suburbs and hospitals also usually celebrate and publicize “their” first baby,” Dr. Deighan said. “I delivered the first baby of 2010 at Gottlieb, and she arrived about 36 hours after the new year, but she still got her picture and name in the area papers.” Training Now to Have a New Year’s Baby? - “The average pregnancy is 40 weeks, so you will want to become pregnant in April to be a contender,” Dr. Deighan said. “There are many October births, perhaps created by some ardent New Year’s celebration, but at no other time of year nor holiday does the world so closely herald a newborn.”
Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.
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