Medical Professionals: Exploring the role within the lives of newborns

As an Elite Newborn Care Specialist and Director of Client Relations at Harmony Baby Concierge, I have the honorable task to connect with several families each week regarding the care of their newborn baby. Whether I am directly partnering with them nightly in their home, or coordinating with my partner to match them with a team member for postpartum support, there is one subject that normally pops up at some point and I find to be particularly useful to help parents navigate caring for their new baby, whether it’s their first or their fifth. In the first year as we learn who your baby is as a person and the specifics of their personality and bodily functions, we will normally work with a few medical professionals to ensure your baby is physically and mentally healthy. I often find that new parents, as they learn to navigate this new chapter in life, rely heavily on the advice of their pediatrician which is sometimes great, and equally sometimes not so great. 

You may now be wondering,” Well, what is the role of my pediatrician?” 

The answer is simple. The scope of practice of a pediatrician includes the following: 

  • Conduct routine medical examinations 
  • Develop diagnosis 
  • Treat common illness
  • Provide referrals to specialists 
  • Maintain records 
  • Administer vaccines 
  • Chart growth to ensure a healthy child
  • Monitor & treat patients 0-18

In short, the role of your Pediatrician is to monitor your child’s growth, advise on any nutritional needs and advise you on how to meet these milestones, treat illness, practice preventative medicine, and refer out to a specialist for non-general issues. 

Even more importantly, let’s talk about common practices that are really out of the scope of a pediatricians’ general practice and training as a general practitioner, and yet they are often asked about and relied upon for expertise in these areas when they often have no training in them.

  • In-depth lactation education & support
  • Diagnosis of oral ties (tongue, lip, and buccal ties)
  • Complex ENT issues
  • Specialized GI/digestion issues (allergy, GERD, pyloric stenosis) 
  • Recommendation of baby products 
  • Sleep training
  • Advice on philosophies for parenting 

In essence, their job is not to advise you on Breastfeeding outside of general evidence-based information; they normally aren’t well qualified to recognize, diagnose & treat oral ties. Complex ENT issues? Demand a referral. Your baby experiencing severe issues with discomfort, gas, pain, digestion? Let’s go see a pediatric GI specialist or an allergist because most babies don’t just cry all day. And though heavily relied upon, colic is actually just a ‘catch-all term’, not a medical diagnosis at all. An unsettled baby is labeled a “colicky baby”, and yet there is usually an underlying reason (and a solution!) behind this. They can advise and educate you on AAP best practices and safe sleep, but anything outside of that stems from personal experience with their own children and isn’t medical advice. I’ll never forget the pediatrician I heard about just this Spring who told parents of a 6 day old, 10-pound baby that she needed to wait 3 hours between feeds, “because she needs to learn that she doesn’t always get what she wants” and “to let her cry for an hour if she needs to.” Or the other pediatrician who told my clients with a mild reflux baby to stick him in a rock-n-play for sleep; it would help with the reflux. After all, her 3 children all did it and they are alive today- this gem was shared one week after the product was recalled because of infant deaths. 

I don’t want to get things twisted here. I am not anti-medicine in the slightest and I am not an anti-pediatrician. Many of them are amazing.  However, I do think that in the U.S., some people look at their general practitioners as parenting experts and newborn experts, which is not the case. They are really good generalists and I really encourage my clients to seek specialized medical care when needed.  This should be with a practitioner who specializes in their specific issue as they will have practices and treatment that reflect the best and most recent peer-reviewed evidence-based research available.  In other words, they can recognize and fix the problem faster and more effectively.  My goal is for the families we partner with to thrive, not just survive. Sometimes we need a second opinion and we need not let a practitioner who doesn’t have a daily one-on-one relationship and insight into our children have an authoritative rule over the well-being of our children. You don’t need a referral to see a specialist and if you suspect something's off and can’t get proper support from your current medical team, a second opinion isn’t rude- it’s you being the best parent you can be to a tiny life that depends on you. The decisions we make today no matter how tiny will affect the physical and mental well-being of our children forever.

Alexis Courtney-Torres is an Elite Newborn Care Specialist based in Dallas, Texas. As a former nanny with a niche for newborns & large families, Alexis quickly noticed a link between behavior, mental wellness and early childhood sleep. Being inquisitive by nature, this led to a deep dive into researching the science behind sleep and its importance in early childhood. She practices respectful and gentle care philosophies and partners with families in the newborn stage to aid in the transition home and to help establish peace & balance within the home. Alexis is a strong advocate for infant & parental mental health and is passionate about infant sleep.
 

Alexis Courtney-Torres
https://harmonybabyconcierge.co
alexis@harmonybabyconcierge.co
Additional Articles by Alexis: https://newborncaresolutions.com/author/alexis-courtney-torres/

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