Monday, November 14, 2005

Asking Doc All The Right Questions

Going to the doctor can be an overwhelming event for your and your new baby. When you go to the doctor on your own, you feel isolated and maybe a little concerned, if you are like most people. Going with a baby, however, can seem like an all-day event.

You have to get baby ready for the visit, which takes up enough time. Then you have to wait with the other nervous parents, wondering if everything is alright with your little bundle of joy. Once you get in the back, the fun begins. You must strip baby to weigh her and get her measurements. Then you have to wait for the doctor, whose exam will leave baby in a tizzy. Then there are the shots, painful for you and your little guy.

Whew! After all that, you realize that you forgot to ask about that weird snoring noise your baby makes sometimes. How can you avoid this problem?

Always write down your questions. Try to anticipate what your doctor will ask you in return. If you are concerned about your baby's spit-up, for example, keep a log for a few days before your visit. If you are feeding only milk, then you should have the times baby's throwing up. If you are feeding solid foods, keep a log of what you feed baby and when you are having problems.

Your doctor will be able to assess your baby better if you have all the information. Otherwise, the doctor is working from your memory, which can be deceiving. You also will get a lot of "ifs" and "maybes" if you do not have all of the information with you.

When you have a specific concern, be prepared to share it with the doctor. If, for example, your husband is a diabetic and you are noticing what you think could be signs of diabetes in your baby, tell your doctor. It is much better to have your question answered than to leave feeling unsure.

Saying, "he seems to use the bathroom a lot," won't help your doctor, and you may not get a serious response. Instead, try, "well, you know Jim has diabetes. I think Drew is going to the bathroom a lot, even for a baby. Is there a chance we could know he has diabetes this early?"

Being specific will help put your mind at ease. It also will help the doctor know why you are asking the question. Then you can go through more specific questions together and get to the source of the problem.

Don't be afraid to speak up for your baby - or to see another doctor if you don't like the answers you're getting. If you ask a serious question and the doctor is flippant in his or her response, you should be firm. Explain that you are really concerned, and you would like to know if there are other symptoms you should look for or if there is any possibility something could be wrong. Don't think of doctors as the final word; think of them as consultants on your medical conditions.

By Julia Mercer

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