After you and your baby are released from the hospital, you will likely schedule an appointment with your newborn's pediatrician. Most newborn appointments are scheduled within a day or a week after birth. If your pediatrician has privileges at your birth hospital, their initial exam may even be completed before you leave the hospital. This is an important examination that allows your doctor to fully examine your new baby and gives you the time to ask questions about newborn care. Below are a few tips to get the most out of this initial appointment.
Discuss the First Exam Well Before Your Due Date
You should select a pediatrician for your child before your child is due. Ideally, you should set up a consultation with your child's pediatrician about a month before your due date. You should discuss when you should schedule your first appointment and how you should inform your child's pediatrician of their birth. This will let your pediatrician know when to expect your newborn and will also let you know what steps you and your spouse should take immediately following your child's birth.
Ask For a Home Visit When Possible
Home visits are making a comeback in the United States. Although they are not available in all areas, it is possible that your child's pediatrician will agree to do a home visit for your child's first check up. This will keep your child away from other sick patients while they are still young and vulnerable. Additionally, it will allow your doctor to demonstrate some care techniques in your home and assess your home for possible dangers, such as bedding or crib hazards.
Schedule Your Appointment During Your Pediatrician's Newborn Hours
If your pediatrician does not offer home visits, ask if they have specific newborn hours. Many pediatric offices have set hours a few times each week when they only schedule babies who have not yet received their first round of vaccines. During this time, they do not see older patients. This can help protect your child from diseases while they are a newborn.
Arrive On Time for Your Appointment
While you may be tempted to arrive at your child's first pediatric appointment early, unless your child's doctor specifically tells you to, it is better to arrive as close to the exact appointment time as possible. This will prevent you from having to wait in the waiting room with a potentially fussy baby among other patients who may be sick.
To save time with paperwork, ask your child's pediatrician to email you copies of any intake forms that you will have to fill out. This way you can fill them out at home and have them prepared for your appointment.
If you arrive early, you may want to hand in your registration forms and then take your baby for a brief walk around the neighborhood until it is time for your appointment. However, only do this if you feel adequately recovered from birth to do so.
Be Prepared With Questions
It is a good idea to write down any questions you may have for your child's pediatrician before your appointment so you can remember to ask them. This may include questions or concerns you have regarding care of the umbilical cord stump, circumcision for male babies, or concerns about weight gain throughout the first weeks. You should keep in mind that your child's pediatrician has likely heard all sorts of questions before, so you should not be embarrassed to ask any type of question.
Your child's first medical visit is a milestone in their life. By being well-prepared for it, you can get the most out of it. Whether your baby needs extra care through a place like Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology or not, don't hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician to make sure you're getting the most out of your appointment.