If you're pregnant, there are several options for you. Feeling nervous or scared or not knowing where to turn is natural – this is a big step in a lot of people's lives. There are people and programs out there who want to help you through it.
You can make decisions before having a baby about who will care for the newborn. That might mean relatives, adoptive parents, the father and/or you.
A great advice and information center is the Pennsylvania Safe Haven Helpline, at 1-866-921-SAFE (7233). They can walk you through the decisions you'll have to make and explore all your options before the baby is born. Another good place for information is the Safe Haven web site, at www.secretsafe.org.
If you're not prepared to be a mom or take care of your newborn, and you don't have anyone to ask for help, there's a place where you can take your baby to ensure his or her safety and health – a Safe Haven. All hospitals in Pennsylvania are Safe Havens. All you have to do is give your newborn (up to 28 days old) to any hospital. That's all. No one will ask questions. No one will judge you. If it's a secret, it will stay a secret.
- You don't have to worry about the hospital staff asking you for personal information or asking why you're bringing your baby. They are there to protect babies and want to give newborns all the care they need and deserve, no matter what. No one will ask you who you are or where you live. No information is required.
- There are signs at hospitals that should tell you where to leave the baby. If you don't see any signs, give the baby to any hospital staff member – they'll know what to do.
- As long as the baby is unharmed, you will not get into trouble. A physician will examine the baby and make sure the newborn stays healthy.
- It is important that you tell the hospital about any health problems you or the baby may have. You can provide medical information for the baby, but it's not required and you don't have to answer any questions. If you'd like, you can take a health history form with you to fill out and mail in anonymously.
After the baby is left at the hospital, he or she is in safe hands. The local county children and youth agency will take custody of the baby and find the baby a good home. If at any point you change your mind and want your baby back, you will need to contact your county children and youth agency.
It is very important throughout this process that you and your baby are healthy. Please see a physician. It is extremely unsafe to go through a pregnancy with no medical help. If you are unsure of where to go, you have several options for medical care. Call the Healthy Baby Helpline, at 1-800-986-BABY (2229), and someone will help you find free or low-cost healthcare services.
Wills Eye wants you to know that wherever you go, there is always the option of Safe Haven.