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Published October 08, 2007 by
Ideally you should choose health care for your baby [a pediatrician or other caregiver] before your due date so that you have someone to turn to right after birth, if necessary. During late pregnancy, ask for recommendations from friends, other physicians, or midwives, and childbirth educators, or call local reputable hospitals and find out which doctors and pediatric nurse practitioners have privileges there. After some screening for location [medical care close to home, if possible, is a real advantage.], you can make one or several prenatal appointments to discuss your questions and concerns. In many communities an interview to select a doctor for the baby is free. Find out before making very many appointments.
There are several types of health care providers available for babies and children. Each has its own advantages.
Pediatricians specialize in the care of children only; they have more training in childhood illnesses than any of the other providers. Their staffs and waiting room r are geared for children. They have completed medical school and three years of residency training in pediatrics.
Family physicians can care for the entire family, including the children. Those who have completed family medicine residencies have had several months training in pediatrics, but probably refer any serious illnesses to a physician with more pediatric training.
Pediatric nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have taken additional training in clinical pediatrics. Most work in clinics or groups, with physicians available for consultation and referral. They specialize in well-child care and the treatment of common illnesses. They tend to be very capable in the area of children’s development and emotional needs and parenting concerns, and do a lot of teaching in these areas. They refer serious problems to pediatricians.
Private care tends to be more personalized, more convenient, and more expensive.
Children’s health clinics cost less to those with low incomes and usually offer good care, although there may be more waiting and less continuity of care with the same practitioner. Children’s health clinics are largely staffed by physicians taking their specially training in family medicine or pediatrics.
Well-child clinics such as those sponsored by the public health department provide free or low-cost check-ups and immunization, but usually no care for the sick child. After looking into the types of care, decide which you want to investigate and make appointments to get to know the people involved. Ideally, try to do this at least a few weeks before your baby is born.
In a prenatal appointment [they usually last ten or fifteen minutes], you will not be able to discuss all of your questions. Decide on a few areas that interest you the most and discuss those. Pay as much attention to how your questions are answered as to what is said.