Sunday, December 31, 2006

Emergencies With Baby

As parents, when our babies get sick, we often find that we are panicked. Of course, you know in the back of your head that you should be the calm one. Act as if nothing is wrong. Be concerned but not overly so, even if you are worried in your own mind. Our sense of calm will help even the smallest of babies feel better. Still it is tough to do when you are faced with a medical emergency with your child. There are some ways you can make the situation a little better, however.

First you should be sure that you get the baby to the hospital in the fastest manner possible. For some people, that means driving while others may want to call an ambulance. If you have to call an ambulance, be sure that you are doing so for an actual emergency. Not only could you cause someone else not to get needed emergency transport, you could find yourself paying for the expense of the ambulance if your insurance company deems your call a non-emergency.

Also be sure that you are putting together all of the symptoms your child is having. If you are a passenger in a car, you can write this information down to keep yourself occupied. If you are driving, then think through it. Go through the basic questions you know you will be asked. Does your child have a fever? If so, what has it been? Is your child vomiting? Does she have diarrhea? Is he eating? Try to remember how long your child has been having each symptom as that can have a significant bearing on the diagnosis you receive.

Before heading out, be sure to grab your family medical insurance card and social security numbers for the patient and the responsible paying adult. You will need this information to be seen, and you may be expected to pay your entire emergency co-pay upfront. If you cannot pay the entire bill, be prepared with how much you can pay and when.

Try to have a support system in place. Although you cannot use your cell phone in the rooms in the hospital, take it with you. Call friends and family who can provide moral support for you during this time. One of the most frustrating things about having a baby who is sick is that he or she cannot communicate with you about pain or other symptoms. The baby also cannot talk to you during the ordeal, and you can feel very isolated. It helps if you can talk to other adults who will make you feel better about the whole situation, even if they are just someone listening to your concerns. Pick one or two people to call periodically throughout the ordeal.

Be sure that you ask any questions you can. Again remember that your baby cannot communicate every need with you. Sometimes doctors will say to look for symptoms such as a scratchy throat. If you are wondering how you will know that about an infant, ask. The doctor should be able to give you signs to watch for or other signs that something is wrong. It is your job to be the voice for your baby, so ask any questions and voice any concerns that you have.

Remember to watch out for yourself. Having been in the hospital with my baby, I know how horrific it can feel. Our urge as parents is to hold and rock and cajole until everyone is exhausted. Be sure that you take time out to eat and drink regularly. Also take a few minutes here and there to get fresh air or stretch your legs. You will feel better and ultimately will be calmer and more soothing for your child if you can remain focused.

The most important tip is to reassure your child. Even if you panic, you should still return to your baby and explain that everything will be okay. Try to make your child feel better. Just because you lost it at the moment your baby toppled the Christmas tree and had to rush to the hospital does not mean you cannot make amends later for losing your cool. Your baby still needs your comfort.

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