Reasons why you and your baby/child need to visit the doctor
Once you give birth to your baby for the first time, you have automatically chosen one of the most important people in your little one’s early life…that’s your prenatal doctor.
You and your baby will most probably visit the doctor more often during the first year than at any other time.
This simply means that you have to forge a relationship with your baby’s doctor that should last through the bumps, bruises, and midnight fevers to come.
Although the first visit differ from doctor to doctor, but you can probably expect:
- A complete physical examination of your newborn
- Measurement of weight, length, and head circumference to assess how your baby’s been doing since birth
- Advice on what you can expect in the coming month
- Observation of your newborn’s vision, hearing, and reflexes
- Questions about how you’re doing with the new baby and how your baby is eating and sleeping
- And so on….
You know that babies are born with some natural immunity against infectious diseases because their mothers’ infection-preventing antibodies are passed to them through the umbilical cord.
However, such immunity is only temporary, because babies will naturally develop their own immunity against many infectious diseases.
Immediately after birth, one of the 24-hour interval vaccines that should be administered to your newborn is the hepatitis B vaccine.
Regular checkups are important for keeping kids healthy and up to date on immunization against many serious childhood diseases.
Checkups also are a chance for you and the doctor to talk about developmental and safety issues, and for you to get answers to any questions about your child’s overall health. As kids grow, they can also ask their own questions about their health and changing body.
Such exposure to what you need to know about your child from the doctor will help understand the different vaccines that are necessary for your child’s health.
- Hip vaccine
- Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine
- Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine
- Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV, PPSV)
- Inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV)
- Meningococcal vaccine
- And so on….
You would equally be educated on when your child should be administered any of the aforementioned vaccines.
In addition, your child may also get a Flu shot vaccine, which is recommended every year before flu season for children older than 6 months.
You need to know that once your child becomes a teen, the doctor may ask you to leave the room for more private conversation. It’s an important part of kids, especially when they are moving toward independence and taking responsibility for their own health.
It is advised as parents to report any unusual medical problem when observed from your child.
- Menstrual problems
- Changes in weight or eating habits
- Stubborn cough, wheezing, or other breathing problems
- Changes in behavior or sleep patterns
- Localized pain
- Failure to progress in height or pubertal development as expected
- Frequent, long-lasting vomiting or diarrhea
- Signs of a skin infection or an unusual or lasting rash
- A fever and looking sick
And as your child gets older, you might probably start considering to move on from the pediatrician who’s taken care of him/her all his/her lives.
Because your child might be feeling out of place in a waiting room, where toddlers clamber on the furniture and moms coo to babies on their laps.
If you’re trying to figure out the right age or moment for your kid to move on from the pediatrician he/she has been used to, then the answer is relative.
Because your Pediatrician might know all about developmental milestones and may be better equipped to deal with teens and their reproductive, mental health and sports-related issues than a doctor with an adult-oriented practice.
In addition, many children are not comfortable seeing their pediatrician for some issues like contraception, STD screening or other issues around their health because they feel like it’s a ‘baby doctor’.
In most cases, at age 13, a child does need to see a pediatrician without the parent for some of the visit. This allows kids to develop a one-to-one rapport and simply learn how to speak directly to a health practitioner.
At such age, the child should have the opportunity to have his/her medical exam in private.
That simply means that the child should equally have the right of doctor-patient confidentiality.
Such separation creates a safe place for kids who are embarrassed to talk about an issue with their parents.
Now that brings us to the popular question:
What are the difference between a General Practitioner (GP) and a Pediatrician?
Your local or family doctor, (i.e. a GP) specializes in general medical practice and cares for different health problems in all age groups. Some have special interests such as women or children and others have extra qualifications in specialized medicine.
One can simply say that a GP is the first person you should call if you’re concerned about your baby’s development or health.
After discussing your concerns, this person will help you figure out whether you need to see another health professional or specialist such as a pediatrician. I think this defines a GP better.
A GP can do the following for you:
- Monitors a child’s health and development
- Talk to you about personal concerns and stresses
- Make referrals to other service providers and support agencies such as speech pathologists or child psychologists
- Help you avoid health problems in the first place
- Treat non-serious accidents such as cuts, minor bangs to head and plastering of some fractures
- Provide immunizations
I believe you now understand the work of a GP…right?
A Pediatrician is a doctor that provides specialist medical care to infants, children and adolescents.
They have done at least six more years of training after they finish their medical degree to become a pediatrician.
It’s their job to know a lot about the many different illnesses and conditions that can affect your child’s health, welfare and behavior.
Pediatricians understand how different illnesses and conditions relate to each other and some do general training while others specialize in area such as neonatology, cardiology, or development and behavior.
I know your next line of question would be:
When does my child need to see a pediatrician?
Well this decision is usually made after you and your child have seen and spoken with a GP or your family doctor.
A GP need to confirm that your child needs specialized care and treatment.
Now, this is what a Pediatrician can help assess and treat in your child:
- Disabilities such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Fragile X syndrome
- Developmental delay
- Behavior problems
- Autism and ADHD
- Problems with muscles and bones such as bow legs or development of dysplasia of the hip
- Poor growth
- Asthma and allergies
- Sleep problems
- Faecal incontinence or constipation
- Brain conditions such as epilepsy
In conclusion, don’t hesitate to notify the doctor if you think that something is wrong with your child.
You know your child best.
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