A mother doctor’s most important advice for new parents

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Two people I know became parents last week and so many of my friends are expecting imminently, some anxious, some tired and all of them excited by this rite of passage. I love that transition – my favorite moment in medicine was delivering babies and placing this new human being in the tender embrace of adults who eagerly awaited this arrival.
I sent my friends congratulations, good wishes and some advice, but then it occurred to me that this advice makes sense for any new parent. As a family physician, it’s the one advice I always gave expectant and new parents who come to the office. Here is what I say:
“Never let ANYONE in the health system make you feel bad about taking your child in to be seen – either too often or for something that the person felt was too trivial. If you as a parent see something that seems off, act on it – and the job of the doctors and nurses is to explain why it was not a concern and that is how you as parents learn.”
I will always remember our first daughter at 7 months crying inconsolably and refusing to settle to sleep. We tried everything – feeding, diaper, singing …- and nothing worked. I ended up doing what they teach us in med school – undressed her completely and examined her from head to toe, and then I discovered one of her toes was purple – because a long hair was wrapped around the base of the tiny toe cutting off blood circulation…. She would have lost a toe if we had followed the “let them cry to sleep” technique.
If I was not a physician myself, some of the things my kids have been through would have sent me to the clinic or the emergency room as often as every other week. As it is I am lucky as I am because of the special knowledge I have, even though sometimes, it does cause more worry… But I digress. What I wanted to say was that the hardest thing I have ever had to do is counsel and console parents that ignored their instincts and did NOT bring their child to medical attention, and then something terrible or tragic happened.
So listen to your gut and heart, and to the miraculously savvy beings kids tend to be. Remember kids are our most amazing teachers. Enjoy the experience 😉

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MOM MD, co-founder and CEO myBestHelper

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