By Dr. Tamara Charity-Brown
Congratulations on the birth of your newborn! You are entering one of life’s greatest adventures- PARENTHOOD. Now what? If only this bundle of joy came with a manual . . . Enter stage left your friendly, knowledgeable pediatrician. In a world filled with an infinite number of news and information sources, your pediatrician is the filter that can help you separate fact from fiction and help you to make the best decisions for your child. Through regularly scheduled visits with your pediatrician, you will learn invaluable information about caring for your child and have a caring, listening ear for voicing questions and concerns. The newborn check-up is probably the most important of these medical visits during your baby’s first year.
Your baby should have the first check-up within the first week of birth. There are many physical and emotional changes that your baby and your family are undergoing during this time. It will be exciting and exhausting all at once. Your initial visit will focus on how well the baby is nursing/feeding; weight gain; and any physical changes that may have occurred since the newborn’s discharge from the hospital. We will also focus on how the whole family is adjusting to their new addition.
After your newborn visit, we can best follow your baby’s growth and development through a series of office visits at regular intervals. In general, your well visits will be scheduled as follows: 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 15 months, 18 months, 24 months, 30 months, and yearly from 3 years old. We will provide important information to you as well as giving you the opportunity to have your questions and concerns addressed. Try to develop the habit of jotting down your questions on your phone or a notepad so that we can address all your questions.
An important facet of these visits will be immunizations. The first immunization, Hepatitis B, is often given in the hospital. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all immunizations be given on a set schedule. Changes to the schedule can expose your child to illnesses that could lead to hospitalization or death. For example, whooping cough in teens or adults is a very annoying cough that lasts about 3 months. In newborns, it can cause the baby to stop breathing.[i] Research shows that giving vaccines one at a time has the same side effect profile as giving them together.[ii] As you research immunizations, please be sure to use reputable sites such as www.healthychildren.org to gather your information. The source is important. Take a minute to also review the illnesses that the vaccines are preventing. Most importantly, feel free to express your concerns with your pediatrician so we can work together to help you make an informed decision.
Again, we want to offer our congratulations. We look forward to growing to know you over the next 18 years and sharing many milestones. Please be sure to call the office to schedule an appointment before you leave the hospital. We are excited to meet your little one!
Tamara Charity-Brown is a partner at Associates in Pediatrics, a division of Pediatric Partners of Virginia. She lives in Glen Allen with her husband Carlos, and four children. In her “free” time she stays busy with spending time with family, travel, and community service.
[i] Pregnancy and Whooping Cough .https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/pregnant/mom/vaccinate-baby.html
[ii] Immunizations and Infectious Diseases. An Informed Parents Guide. American Academy of Pediatrics