During your stay in the hospital, your newborn will require routine tests and medications.

Erythromycin eye ointment

This is an antibiotic ointment that is placed in baby’s eyes after birth. It is used to prevent eye infection from any bacteria that the baby may have come into contact with at birth.

Vitamin K injection

Babies are known to have low levels of vitamin K at birth. Vitamin K plays an important role in making our blood clot. Giving babies a vitamin K injection in their leg one time after birth can help to prevent a condition called Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB) or Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn (HDN).

Newborn screening

This test is done by pricking the baby’s heel and collecting blood on a card before the baby goes home. This card is sent to the provincial laboratory at B.C. Children’s Hospital and the baby is tested for over 20 rare but treatable disorders.

If babies are discharged home from hospital before they are 24 hours old, it is very important to get this test repeated when the baby reaches 24 hours of age. Learn more about the newborn screening test.

Hearing screening

A newborn hearing screening test checks the baby’s hearing for any problems. The B.C. Early Hearing Program (BCEHP) is a province-wide program for early hearing screening and intervention. This test is done using a small portable machine that is brought into the mother’s hospital room. Learn more about hearing.

Bilirubin level

This is only recommended for some babies. If a baby’s skin or eyes are looking slightly yellow, the medical team may want to check the baby’s bilirubin level to check for jaundice (yellow skin colour). This can be done using a bilimeter and/or by a blood test. Learn more about jaundice.

Glucometer check

This is only recommended for some babies. If a baby is jittery/shaky or if they have risk factors for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), the nurse will check the baby’s blood sugar by doing a blood test by heel prick. The babies that are at risk for hypoglycemia could be babies that are larger than average or babies of diabetic mothers.


The decision to circumcise your son can be challenging for parents. Circumcision is when the skin covering the tip of the penis is surgically removed, most often in the first few days after birth. Parents may chose to circumcise their son for social, cultural or religious reasons.

Circumcision is not covered by the B.C. Medical Service Plan. It is not recommended by the Canadian Pediatric Society. Take time to learn more about whether circumcision is right for your son by reviewing HealthLink BC’s decision tool: Should I keep my son’s penis natural?