Doctor’s appointments with a new baby can feel overwhelming, especially when it is your first child. Is he getting enough to eat? Is she ever going to sleep through the night? Is that skin redness normal? Should I be concerned about the consistency of his stool? The list goes on and on and yet somehow I am 6 months into it and feeling a little more confident. Here are some of the things that helped me the most:
- Find a pediatrician and meet with them in your final trimester. I wouldn’t have ever thought of this, but the pediatrician we found asked to meet with me (normally my husband would have been there, but a global pandemic had other plans!). I began looking for a doctor the first week of my second trimester and thankfully found a doctor relatively quickly. We talked about my little boy’s first few days and what to expect. I immediately felt overwhelmed by how much I didn’t know and also reassured that I had chosen a doctor who was proactive and intentional in getting to know us. It was a short meeting — 30 minutes — but it was helpful to meet her, get to know the person who would be providing care for my son and learn a little bit about how their practice worked. I used this meeting not only to ask questions I had, but also to listen.
- Always ask if you don’t know. There are no bad questions. I learned this lesson the hard way. Our little had a rough first 2 weeks being severely dehydrated and I can tell you right now — googling his symptoms did not help one bit. I did it once and from then on, I just called the office even if it was after hours. I would ask the answering service (which was so helpful) and the doctor always followed up the next day. Do your research, but avoid random websites. Find reputable sources and advocate for your little one. You’re the mama and can make decisions, but don’t google symptoms unless you want to be flooded with worst-case-scenario anxiety.
- Trust your gut and get a second opinion. A second opinion for a baby? Could that be necessary? At four months, we ended up taking my little guy to the ER for some breathing difficulties and a few other strange symptoms. After long hours of waiting, the radiologist came back and said “pneumonia”. They wanted to give him a very strong antibiotic that usually wasn’t given to kiddos under 6 months of age. I was so scared and ended up asking to speak with the doctor who had been helping us all night. He said that he didn’t see pneumonia on the x-rays and encouraged us to follow up with the pediatrician the following day, assuring us that our little man would be fine for the 24 hours until we had a chance to talk with his doctor. We called the pediatricians office and she was able to see us that morning. She examined the x-rays, too, and determined that she also didn’t suspect pneumonia. We left with a plan in place to follow up. His symptoms cleared up in a few days and we were good to go!
Medical appointments can often feel overwhelming, but these three tips really helped calm my nerves. Remember: you are not only your own advocate, but also the advocate of that little life entrusted to you. Don't let doctors make you feel intimidated or small. You're simply doing your job as a mama!