Becoming a parent also means becoming a nurse and carer. Personally, I found that quite scary and tried to address my anxieties the best I could. I think I have some common sense and I am a caring person but I have no medical training and the advice I might have picked up from my own childhood experiences was likely outdated. So here is what I did.
I attended antenatal classes. The classes were helpful in giving me an insight in baby’s daily needs: feeding, sleeping, crying, changing, bathing, bonding. It helped me get familiar with some of baby’s paraphernalia (and there’s lots of it!).
I bought and read a paediatric first aid manual cover to cover.
This was one of the best ways of updating my knowledge.
I asked questions.
I spoke with my elder sister and sister-in-law. Both have slightly older children and so their experiences of parenting were recent. I also spoke to my antenatal group to try and figure out if anything was wrong. There aren’t many people you can talk to about green poo.
I had a competent and helpful Health Visitor.
Violet would do home visits or I would see her at baby clinics. She answered my questions or directed me to my GP when she thought it necessary.
I knew what health services I could use.
When the community midwife made her first visit after birth she told us to go to A&E if we had concerns for our baby. Whether this was because he had just come out of phototherapy or because it is standard advice I don’t know but I took the view that I wouldn’t be bothering doctors if I brought in my newborn because I was concerned. I didn’t intend to lengthen the queues at A&E but I was ready to go. Fortunately, it never came to that.
I knew I could call my GP’s surgery and knew where my nearest walk-in centre was. I also knew I could call 111 although I believe that a sick child needs to be SEEN by a doctor. All the same, 111 can direct you to the nearest out-of-hours GP or A&E.
And if I had concerns over my own health, I had my GP’s and Maternity ward’s numbers on my fridge.
Now there is a great app designed by the Lullaby Trust called The Baby Check app. It is user-friendly and runs you through a number of questions to test for different symptoms and signs of illness.
For example, it teaches you how best to take your baby’s temperature. It recommends using an electronic thermometer under the armpit for babies’ under 4 weeks old and an ear thermometer after that and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
It was a bit of a shock when we first came home from the hospital and realised we were in sole charge of a tiny baby but I found taking these simple steps before birth reassuring. I hope you will too.