I am a regular first-time mom. I am not a doctor; I do not have any medical background either. And if my baby does not feel well I, like a million other moms, call my pediatrician. I am fond of our pediatrician; she is very experienced and professional doctor as well as nice a very polite woman. Since it is your child health, it is very important to find a doctor who you will trust and feel comfortable with.
In spite of this, I still do not believe that we can rely blindly on doctor’s opinion, expecting him to know and foresee everything. I strongly believe that everything related to children health is first of all parents’ responsibility and I am sure that every responsible parent has to take an active position in their child health. It does not mean to argue with your doctor every time he gives a prescription; it does mean understanding what it for. At the end of the day, you will be the person who has to take the final decision for your baby.
So what does it mean, to take an active position in your child health?
Be proactive and make a homework.
If you have a problem, come with specific questions. Start with the simple thing: ask the internet. Do not diagnose though (Google is not a good helper here because after five minutes you will find all symptoms of all incurable diseases). Doctors tend to listen to patients with specific questions more carefully and give them an explanation that is more detailed.
Do not hesitate to ask questions.
You heard this medicine or procedure might cause some side effects your doctor did not mention? Ask him and listen what he answers. Sometimes you will get the explanation but sometimes you will discover that … your doctor did not hear or does not know anything about it and well… you had better check this subject with another doctor.
You still have doubts?
Disagree with your pediatrician? Take a second opinion. Take a third and a fourth and a tenth until you feel you have all information to make a decision. People make mistakes and it is normal. Probably you will hear same things from every next doctor but sometimes you may find a brilliant alternative for you and your baby.
Learn how to filter information and advice you get.
Being a parent is a very challenging role. You will hear a ton of different opinions, sometimes very valuable ones, sometimes contradictory and sometimes absolutely stupid. Especially from those whose only argument is “I did that and everything was ok”. Unfortunately, it is not a sufficient argument, so think twice before you follow such advice.
Do not be lazy and naive.
I hear this all the time: “Who am I to decide how to treat my child?”, “I do not have enough knowledge to make any decision!”, “I simply will do what others do”, “I believe doctor/nurse/somebody will do the best for my child”. Really?? I do not think it is an acceptable behavior in the modern world. It can be very comforting thought – to shift all responsibility on somebody others’ shoulders. But, when it will come to consequences you will be the one responsible for your baby health. So take an active position now in everything related to your child health: search, read, analyze, come with this information to your doctor, ask, and again.
Use common sense.
First of all, ask for arguments. Ask for researchers. Then ask yourself, ask your logic and common sense. Does it seem right? Does it fell right? Is it dangerous? What are the risks of doing or not doing?
Believe in your child.
Talk to him. Hug him. Feel how perfect he is, this little human. Sometimes our children get sick and getting hurt because we perceive them as weak, vulnerable and helpless. And sometimes they are. That is why we are their parents, to love them. To support them, to protect them and to make them feel strong. In such moments I always remember what my doula said when I was wondering how could I be in full control when I will be giving the birth to my first child. She said: “Woman’s body knows how to give a birth and a baby knows how to be born”.
I am a big fan of conventional medicine but I was very surprised to discover many white spots related to pregnancy, breastfeeding, sleeping and generally to the health issues during the first year of baby lives. So I think that it is not because the doctors are unprofessional or under qualified, I think it is because these white spots are a great room for parents responsibility that has to be taken very consciously and seriously by every parent.