When you first bring your newborn baby home from the hospital, you have a lot to think about, often including your first visit to the pediatrician. In our office, we usually see babies about 2 days after they go home from the hospital, but sometimes we see them sooner if the baby has significant jaundice (yellowing of the skin) or has lost excess weight after being born. This trip to the doctor’s office may be your first time taking your newborn anywhere and there are a few things to think about to help your visit be as smooth and pleasant as possible.
First, make sure you know how to strap your baby into the car seat and that you know how to install your car seat into the car. You can schedule a car seat safety inspection in Nashville by contacting Metro Police. It would be a good idea to do this before your baby arrives!
Food, Diapers, and a Change of Clothes
Be prepared to feed and diaper your baby – multiple times. Newborns often eat very frequently and are often slow eaters. Between the time it takes to load up the car and get to the doctor’s office, plus checking in and filling out forms (paperwork is an inevitable fact of modern healthcare), getting weighed and measured, and waiting for the doctor, an hour or more could go by and it might be time for your little one to eat again. Nursing especially is comforting for infants. You should always be welcome to breastfeed your infant at the pediatrician’s office.
Newborns also frequently soil their diapers, during or immediately after eating. It is not uncommon for newborns to urinate 10 times in a day and poop 8 times in a day. I’ve also seen a lot of newborns who poop again as soon as you change their diaper. So try to remember to bring at least a few clean diapers and wipes. If you forget, your pediatrician will likely have a diaper on hand to give you, but it is nice to be prepared!
Sometimes diapers have blow-outs and sometimes babies spit up. Bring an extra outfit (or two!) in case your baby soils the beautiful new onesie you picked out for your first trip out of the house.
Questions to Ask the Pediatrician
Make a list of questions for your pediatrician before you get there. You will likely be pretty tired during the first days with your baby and a list will help you remember what you want to ask. Keep a notepad or your phone handy when you are home, so you can jot down questions when you think of them. Also, try to keep track of the number of wet and dirty diapers your baby has for the first few days home from the hospital. This is a good way for us to know if your baby is getting enough to eat!
For your baby’s exam with the doctor, the nurse will likely ask you to remove your baby’s clothes. This allows the doctor to see your baby’s skin, watch your baby breathe, and hear your baby’s heart beat, belly gurgles, and breath sounds. Unfortunately, being naked can be chilly, especially for a little one! Think ahead and bring a blanket (or two!) to swaddle your baby while waiting for the doctor and while you talk with the doctor. The blanket is also nice to lay your baby on during the exam, instead of the cold exam table.
Usually, babies don’t get shots at their first newborn visit, unless they didn’t get the first Hepatitis B vaccine in the hospital. If your baby is jaundiced, the pediatrician may decide to recheck the jaundice level by collecting blood from a heel stick.
Pharmacy and Emergency Contact Info
It is also good to know the name of your pharmacy, so that the doctor can send any prescriptions to the pharmacy if needed. Also, think about a list of names of people who can bring your baby to the doctor if you aren’t able to, such as Grandma and Grandpa.
I know there is a lot to remember, but a little preparation can go a long way towards making your first visit to the pediatrician’s office easier and more pleasant!
Dr. Mary Kay Bartek is a Board Certified pediatrician with Pediatric Associates of Davidson County. Dr. Bartek has practiced at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital Emergency Department and Urgent Care Centers and with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in the Emergency Department and After-Hours Clinics. Dr. Bartek is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Bartek grew up in Gallatin, TN, enjoys traveling, running, baking, and reading with her cat, Hermione.