Tuesday, June 29, 2010

To call or not to call...when to ring your pediatrician

When my oldest child was an infant, my mother insisted I call her pediatrician on a holiday. I was not thrilled about this, but she was insistent, so I called to appease her. You see, Mom was visiting for the weekend and when she realized her grandbaby had not moved her bowels in three days, she panicked. I told her it had been more like five days and that's when she demanded I call the doctor.

I left a message with the answering service and a little while later the pediatrician returned my call.

"What's the problem?" he asked.

"My three-month-old hasn't moved her bowels in five or six days."

"Is she breastfed?" he deadpanned.

"Yes," I answered sheepishly.

"Perfectly normal."

Maybe I'm not remembering the details as well as I should, but I do believe he hung up with that. No goodbye. No question about other symptoms. Just a statement of fact. "Perfectly normal."

My breastfed baby just didn't poop much. I always felt a bit of pride when I hung her diapers on the line because they were the whitest diapers around! No nasty poop stains marring their pristine appearance as they blew lazily in the breeze.

Do you ever struggle with whether or not to call the pediatrician?
The magazine PARENTING The Early Years addressed this issue on page 48 of June's edition. The article is called 8 Times Your Pediatrician Wants You to Call and is based on the advice of Kathryn Emery, M.D., an ER physician at the Children's Hospital at the University of Colorado in Denver. She lists the following:

1. A fever that doesn't come down an hour after giving your child a pain reliever. Or a high temp that does come down, but persists for several days....or disappears only to reappear a couple of days later.

2. Abdominal pain -- particularly if it's on the right side (where appendix flare ups occur).

3. A fall that causes swelling. If the injured area is swollen and your child is still babying it a few days later, give the doc a call.

4. Unexplained poor food intake with fever for two days. Also look for decreased urine output. for a day or more.

5. Any difficulty swallowing. Call immediately! There could be something lodged in his throat, or he could be having an allergic reaction.

6. Headache with a fever or vomiting.

7. Any kind of rash or skin issue that makes you wonder -- what the heck is that?

8. When something just isn't right. If that's what your gut is telling you, trust it and call.

Notice...there's nothing on the list about a baby's pooping schedule. Guess that was just an emergency in my mother's mind!

Keeping it healthy,


Photo courtesy of Petr Kratochvil

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