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Switched at Birth: A New Mom’s Real-Life Nightmare


Straight out of a made-for-TV movie, two new mothers in Australia are distraught after a hospital worker switched their newborn babies, reports ABC News.

According to the news report, two babies at St. John of God Hospital in Geelong spent more than eight hours with the wrong mothers, including time spent breastfeeding, until a family member noticed the mistake. How could this have happened? Apparently, a hospital worker failed to check a name bracelet, and the babies were placed in the wrong bassinets, explained the hospital’s chief executive.

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The hospital is seeking advice from its obstetricians and infection control consultants about how to proceed, but an expert on breastfeeding and human lactation, Dr. Jennifer James, told ABC News that the potential for medical consequences, like the transmission of a virus like HIV or hepatitis C via breast milk, is low. Dr. James added that the main consequence in this particular case is the mothers’ distress, "The fact that they have been caring for, loving, cuddling, feeding someone else's baby. What's been happening to my baby? Why didn't I notice that I was caring for someone else's baby?" She added that the chance of the families taking home the wrong babies was very slim, given the discharge practices that hospital staff and parents must follow.

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The families are being offered counseling and pastoral care, and we would imagine, are keeping a close watch over their babies.

Did you think this kind of thing only happened in the movies, or was this a fear of yours when you were pregnant?