Why You Won’t Be Seeing Baby Pictures at the OB

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It’s cute, it’s common, and more than anything, it’s reassuring. Seeing the smiling faces of all the babies your OB has delivered lets you know this whole pregnancy thing is going to turn out just fine. But more and more doctors are moving these baby boards out of sight, thanks to of the federal patient privacy law known as HIPAA.

Technically, under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, baby photos are protected health information, just like your medical charts or Social Security number. You know all those “notice of privacy” forms you have to sign? Those are the result of HIPAA, passed in 1996. Even if moms send in baby photos themselves, without written permission, they’re not fair game.

Not all doctors are complying. And according to the New York Times, some offices are improvising, and placing photos in an album that patients can choose to open or not. But technically, that’s illegal too.

“For me, the face of a baby, that is really an anonymous face,” said Dr. Pasquale Patrizio, director of the Yale Fertility Center in New Haven, tells the New York Times. “It was representative of so much happiness, so much comfort, so much reassurance. It is purely a clinical office now.”

So there you have it; if your friends are overdoing it with Instagrams of a new baby, they’re probably just overcompensating for what’s missing at the doctor’s office.

Does your doctor’s office have a baby board?

Plus, more from The Bump: 

Pregnancy and Baby Photos

Photographer’s Secrets to Taking Great Baby Photos

What Happens at My First OB Visit?