Pediatricians play a crucial role in our children’s growth and development, especially when it comes to their health. This is why it is important for parents to look at them as partners in caring for their kids.
To help jumpstart — and strengthen — your partnership with your pediatrician, here’s a list of things you should probably know before you step into his or her clinic:
1. Come prepared. Dr. Raissa Paje-Bayawa, a pediatrician practicing in Taguig, and the program director of Happy Heart Kids, encourages parents to be prepared for all the details that a doctor’s visit entails and to come prepared, too.
“A pedia consult, especially if it is our first time to see a patient, can be time-consuming,” she explains.
“We need time to ask about a child's birth history, breastfeeding and daily eating habits, immunization history, past diseases, any problems as the child is growing up, illness/es in the family and other information that may be relevant.”
“This is why it would be very helpful if parents bring their child’s baby book, plus any emergency room discharge instructions, medical abstracts, prescriptions, etc. that they might have,” Dr. Paje-Bayawa adds.
2. Educate yourself on breastfeeding. Dr. Trixie Abanilla-Balingit, a diplomate of the Philippine Pediatric Society, and a consultant at St. Luke’s Medical Center, FEU-NRMF Medical Center, and Metro North Hospital (all in Quezon City), encourages all parents, moms in particular, to prepare for breastfeeding.
“I wish they would read up on breastfeeding before the baby comes, believe that every mom can produce milk, and stop listening to those who say otherwise,” she expounds.
3. Give all the details. “When children are sick, we need the parents' help especially when the kids are too young to talk and cannot express verbally how they are feeling,” Dr. Paje-Bayawa explains.
“The parent/caregiver's detailed account of what happened to the child is just as important as our physical examination in the clinic. Tell us the whole story from day one.”
She also says that most, if not all, pediatricians, would appreciate vigilant parents who keep track of important details such as the child’s temperature “by using a thermometer and not just ‘kapa’.”
Other important details like “counting how many times the child had diarrhea and actually looking at the color and consistency of the poop, being able to tell us that previously the baby feeds 6-8 x a day and now it's down to 3x a day, etc.” are important too.
4. Give clear answers and tell the whole truth. Dr. Daisy Joy Espejo-Torina, a pediatrician who practices at MetroDocs Clinic, reiterates the importance of parents giving clear answers to doctors’ questions upon consultation.
“I wish parents came prepared with their kids’ history of illness and not give vague answers like ‘Matagal na’ or ‘Maraming beses,’” she says. “Diarrhea of 2 days’ duration is different from diarrhea of 2 weeks.”
Dr. Espejo-Torina also says that parents should “disclose interventions they gave [their kids] prior to consulting the doctor.”
“Some parents are afraid of getting scolded or judged but I wish they wouldn't give antibiotics to their kids without consulting a doctor, just because it was previously given to their child by a doctor, or because the neighbor's child has been prescribed that medicine for the same symptoms,” she explains.
“I think some parents don't realize that the dose of medicine is based on their child's weight, so most of the time they give medicine that is not of the proper dosage.”
5. Empower the other people in your child’s life. “Sometimes, the person accompanying the child to the clinic is not the primary caregiver of the child,” Dr. Paje-Bayawa explains. “We need to 'empower' the dad or yaya or lola or aunt or whoever will bring the patient to the clinic with the information I mentioned earlier.”
This is because it is difficult to evaluate the child's condition when the answers to the pediatrician’s questions run along the lines of:
"Hindi ko po alam Doc, si Mommy po kasi ang nag-alaga kagabi, hindi ako."
“I find it amazing when the companion of the child actually brings to the clinic a detailed record of the meds taken and what time,” Dr. Paje-Bayawa shares.
“Sometimes they bring the empty boxes of the antibiotics recently given, or show me how the rashes initially looked like using their cameraphones.”
Indeed, parents who come to the clinic well-prepared will surely have their doctors’ gratitude.
6. Don’t be shy. Dr. Paje-Bayawa advises parents to be frank with their children’s doctors at all times.
“We need to know if you did not get our instructions, or you can't read our handwriting on the prescription,” she explains.
“I understand that most of us want to be nice all the time and be non-confrontational, or sometimes we just feel shy to ask. But it would be for the benefit of the child when you tell us if you are not sure if you should wake up your sleeping child so he could nebulize,” she continues, “or if you should give another dose of medicine if your child vomits it out.”
7. Don’t take your pedia for granted. Dr. Jamie Isip-Cumpas, a pediatrician and Lactation Consultant at Parkview Children's Clinic Makati, emphatically tells parents, “For your own sanity, please stop Google-ing your child's symptoms to come up with your own diagnosis. That is what real live doctors are for.”
Using the Internet may result in parents discovering too many "diseases" that are probably not what their child has.
“It will just make you more paranoid,” Dr. Isip-Cumpas says. “It is better to list down all your concerns and questions so you can discuss it with your child's doctor.”
8. Be open. “If you disagree with your child's pediatrican or need any clarifications, please say so. It is better to openly discuss these, rather than doing something entirely different without the doctor's knowledge,” Dr. Isip-Cumpas explains.
Dr. Paje-Bayawa seconds Dr. Isip-Cumpas’s emphasis on open communication lines between parents and pediatricians.
“We may have varying opinions about the child's health, especially about topics like using the iPad, getting accelerated in school, playing sports, or vaccination,” she explains. “But we are open to hearing and discussing your concerns.”
“At the end of the day, we are just as happy as the parents when our patients start counting 1 to 10, or when they use ‘po’ and ‘opo’ in every sentence, become part of the soccer team, or when they graduate from high school.”
“We are on the same team after all. And sometimes, the pediatrician and the mom/dad exchange roles as being team captain and cheerleader of the child. We both want the same thing -- what's best for your child.
Building a good relationship with your pediatrician is important because it benefits your child — and you. So, the next time you schedule a visit to your pedia, remember this list of things your doctor wants you to know — we’re sure he or she will appreciate it!