Motherhood: Health Planning for Your Newborn Baby

You think you're seeing your doctor a lot during your pregnancy ‑- just wait until you see how many times your baby will visit his health care provider. That's why it's so important for this person to become your partner over the next weeks, months and years. Before your baby is born, take some time now to interview several practices and try to pick the one that's a good fit for you. Here's what to expect as you get to know one another.

Routine Well-Baby Visits

During the first year you should expect to be visiting your baby's health care provider as many as eight times for well visits. Most likely there will be additional ones for sick visits. Well visits occur on a predictable schedule and appointments can be set up ahead of time. Typically, your baby will be seen at two weeks, one month, two months, three months, four months, six months, nine months and one year. This schedule may vary depending on the practice. These are usually longer visits at which babies are given immunizations and at which you can address any concerns that you have about your baby.

When you and your baby first begin to venture out you will be surprised at how much longer it now takes to get ready to leave your house. Frequently, new parents arrive for their first visits completely frazzled. This is why, in the weeks before a visit, it is helpful if you keep a list of any questions or concerns that come to mind. You may forget your baby's diaper bag, but if you've got your list, you'll make the most of the time you and your baby spend with his practitioner. Remember, no question is silly or insignificant, and getting answers will help make you more confident in your parenting abilities.

Your pediatrician or nurse practitioner will, at every well-baby visit, be doing a head-to-toe physical examination of your baby, weighing, measuring and making observations as well as asking questions of you. You'll be asked to tell about any developmental milestones your baby has passed and describe how your baby is sleeping and eating. Are you breastfeeding or giving your baby formula? How often is he at the breast, and for how long? What kind of formula are you offering? How much? How often? It is important to share whatever observations you've made.

At these visits, don't be surprised if your practitioners ask how you are doing. Your baby may be the patient, but ultimately, his health can depend on the state of your own. They will want to be sure that you are taking good care of yourself and are feeling well, mentally and physically. Postpartum depression can occur at any time during the first 12 months, and often it's the baby's health care practitioners who first notice it. Don't be afraid to discuss any feelings of sadness, helplessness or being overwhelmed with your primary care provider.

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