Before a baby is born he/she is completely dependent on his mother for food, oxygen, excretion of by-products etc. When born his/her own body needs to take over these functions. To establish if the baby is able to adapt perfectly to life outside, it is the job of the paediatrician to evaluate how the baby copes with these changes.
All babies born needs to be seen preferably by a paediatrician during the first 24 hours of their life. This is done to establish the ability of the baby to adapt to extra-uterine life.
It is also the job of the paediatrician to examine the baby to try and detect any abnormalities that may not have been picked up during the pregnancy.
Babies are also monitored for their feeding abilities and for the development of jaundice.
A parent is always welcome to request a certain paediatrician to be present at the birth of the baby or to attend to her baby after he or she is born. You can communicate your wishes to your gynaecologist, the secretary who makes the bookings for the delivery and the labour ward staff.
How often will my baby be checked:
If you deliver via a caesarean section a paediatrician will usually be in theatre when your baby is born, to make sure that the baby is breathing fine, that his heart is coping with the changes, that he is active and crying and to make sure that there are no obvious abnormalities. The booking of the paediatrician usually happens at the same time an elective caesarean section is booked, but will be the paediatrician on call if it is an emergency after hour caeser.
If your baby is born via a normal delivery, the paediatrician will usually come and see baby in the next 24 hours, unless a problem is detected by the nursing staff, in which case the paediatrician will come out on an emergency basis.
As long as you are in hospital baby will be checked every day.
What will happen at discharge?
You will be given instructions by the paediatrician when baby needs to be seen again. This is usually at 6 weeks if everything is ok, but might be sooner in certain cases, like baby being a bit premature, or small, or having feeding problems, or any other problem that needs to be followed up.
If your baby develops jaundice your paediatrician will also ask you to go for jaundice tests after discharge. This usually is done at the pathology department, who will let your paediatrician know what the results are. Usually if there is a problem, we will let you know that you need to come in.
You will be issued a card (stapled to the clinic card) of the paediatrician's details: contact number, e-mail address etc. Please remember to register you baby as soon as you receive the birth certificate, onto your medical aid.
When will baby be discharged?
Caesarean babies goes home after 3 nights in hospital and babies that are born vaginally after 2 nights. Babies are normally discharged with their mothers, unless baby has some health issues, for instance develops jaundice that needs treatment or is admitted to the Neonatal ICU.
What if my baby develops problems before the 6 week check?
If you are not sure whether it is a problem that you need to worry about, or if you just need to ask or check something small, you are welcome to send us an e-mail.
If you are worried, please phone in and make an appointment. Please do not wait until 6 weeks, if you are experiencing problems.
Routine Health Visits or Check-ups
Why are these visits important?
Children grow and develop very fast, and both their bodies and their minds need to undergo a lot of changes. This growth and development follow certain expected patterns and curves.
Paediatricians are trained in these curves and patterns, and during a routine visit we will look closely whether your child follows them, recognise deviations early and identify abnormalities in either growth or development. We can then intervene timeously and therefore prevent complications or limit the impact it has on the child.
What will happen during these visits?
Your paediatrician will first take a history, where questions will be asked re your child’s development, health etc. We will also listen to all your questions and worries and will answer them to the best of our ability.
During the consultation special focus will be on the development of your child, looking deeply at his or her ability to do certain things. We will also observe your child during his or her interaction with us and you, during play as well as being examined. Our focus will be on age appropriate behaviour.
Your child will then be weighed and measured and carefully examined, evaluating all the body organs and functions.
The paediatrician will use the numbers to plot your child on growth charts that evaluates weight, height or length and head circumference.
At the end of the consultation we will discuss our findings with the parents, communicate positives and negatives and discuss a plan, whether that be intervention or a follow up routine visit.
We will also spend time to educate parents on certain things like weaning practices, discipline, sleep routines etc.
What can I do to get the most out of them?
These are the visits where you can ask advice about parenting, health, eating habits, or anything else relating to your child.
It helps us a lot if the parents or caregivers come prepared with a list of questions. Ask your doctor anything you like, and if there is anything that has come up during the consultation we appreciate your input and questions.
Mention all your concerns, whether you think they might be insignificant or not. The more information we have, the better we are able to help you.
What do I need to bring with?
Please bring your list of questions, your clinic book and any health records, tests, letters or other information re your child that you have.
Who must come to these visits?
If possible both parents and anybody that interacts with your child on a frequent and regular basis like grandparents, caregivers or nannies. It is important to get everybody’s opinion. If the child is accompanied by only 1 parent, try to ask the other role players for their questions or concerns as well.
How often do I need to come for a health check?
During the first year it is every 6 months till the second year and there-after every year. If there are special concerns re growth or development your paediatrician may ask you to come more regular to follow up on these issues.
Emergency Paediatric Care
It is every parent's worst nightmare to have a medical emergency with their child.
There is a 24 hour Emergency Department at Mediclinic Milnerton where a resident casualty officer will attend to your child and, if necessary, refer to the Practice during office hours 8h00 – 17h00 or the Paediatrician on call afterhours 17h00 – 08h00.