Birth certificate for midnight baby?

What date is filed on the birth certificate if the baby is born so close to midnight that it was just a toss-up who looked first and observed the date?

For example: if John Smith is born 11:59:59 PM June 22nd, does Jane Smith (his mother) have the option to choose between dates?
(This was going to be for a sci-fi story, but I realized that the story would be a) uninteresting and b) my premise didn’t make sense)

if John Smith is born 11:59:59 PM June 22nd, does Jane Smith (his mother) have the option to choose between dates?


Why, if John was born on 11:59:59 pm June 22nd, then that’s what it would say on the certificate. I’m not sure I understand why the Mother (or anyone) would have the option of choosing otherwise.

She was born around midnight, but no one actually paid attention to the clock until about 10 minutes later. No one knew the exact time of birth.
So the doctor asked her mother which date she wanted him to put on the birth certificate.

But I’d bet that in most cases like this, the doctor wouldn’t admit not knowing the exact time, and would just make his/her best guess and write that down without much discussion with the mother.

When all three of my kids were born, the birth time written down was what the wall clock showed when the obstetrician looked at it a few minutes after the birth. There was no great interest in getting the exact time the feet cleared the birth canal down to the second - frankly, I’m glad the doctor was interested in other things than staring at the clock while the birth was occurring - like making sure the baby and my wife were healthy.

This happened to some neighbors of mine. They let 'em pick between dates. They chose the earlier date because that particular day was Grandma’s birthday.

Just when is a baby born, anyway? When the head appears? When the toes appear? When the first breath is drawn? When the umbilical is cut? I could see different hospitals applying different criteria.


I think Geraldo Rivera was born at midnight between July 3 and July 4 and his mother chose July 4.

Don’t ask me how I know that. I try to shake these things out of my head from time to time, but there seems to be a sixty year long jam.

On a little side note:

Twins or other multiple birth are often several minutes away. So theoretically it is quite possible to have twins who were born on different days. Can anyone come up with a true-life example of this?

I’ve always wondered this. Whenever ANY mention is made of twins and birthdays, it’s the same date.

yup. my cousin has twins born on seperate days, actually three or four hours apart. even she isn’t sure of the exact times (difficult labour). I also have two cousins (brother and sister) born the same date three years apart! :slight_smile:

The answer to the question raised in the OP is that the informant who supplies details to the registrar will state a date, and that is what will appear on the birth certificate.

The informant may be a parent, or may be a hospital official (assuming the birth takes place in hospital, of course). If it is a hospital official, the informant may or may not consult the mother if there is some doubt about the date.

My mother insists that my brother was born at 10 minutes to midnight on 4 May. We celebrate, and have always celebrated, his birthday on 4 May, and when completing forms he gives his birthday as 4 May.

His birth certificate gives his birthday as 5 May.

This has never bothered anyone, or caused him any trouble.

The way my mom tells the story, when I was born the doctor looked at the clock and saw that it was straight up midnight. He asked her which day she wanted. She chose the new day (does anyone ever choose the old day?). However, I generally observe my birthday the evening before (largely because we later moved three time zones west).

Interestingly, there is a legitimate case (not an urban legend, though I don’t have a cite at hand) where a child was born the year after its mother’s death. She was eight months plus pregnant and fatally injured on New Year’s Eve, became brain-dead late that evening, and her body was kept on life support and labor induced because there was a strong chance of saving the child – who was born shortly after midnight on January 1. (And I report it as I heard it – I have no idea why they didn’t simply take the child by Caesarian, given that she was dead anyway.)

At the other end of things, my Grandmother died at midnight, Dec 31, 1999. I have no idea what date got written on the death certificate. It took us a year or so to work up the nerve to say that she wasn’t Y2K compatable.

We sure won’t forget the date. She even outdid Grandpa. He had died two years before, on her birthday.