Category Archives: parenting

Pediatrician vs. Family Practice Doc

While pregnant I asked a midwife about the difference between securing a pediatrician and a family practice doctor for our lad. She said there was no big distinction and it was mostly a matter of personal preference. We chose a pediatrician based on the assumption that specialist care would be a good thing (the same reason we initially chose the midwife group over going to our family doc). I’ve now come to think there are some big disparites, and to know what’s a good fit for you is as simple as asking yourself the question- do you want parenting advice or strictly medical care?

I’m sure my opinion is largely tainted by our experiences to date, and I hesitate to make such broad generalizations, but pediatricians seem to have set agendas and expect the parents to listen to their advice as gospel. They want to impose their standard regimen and don’t appreciate it when you attempt to deviate from the norm. They dislike when parents do their own research and are extremely suspcious of information found on the Internet, no matter the source. They encourage questions, as long as you don’t come across as challenging their wisdom.

I believe decisions such as where the baby sleeps, when/what/how to start feeding them, the disciplining methods to use, and whether to let them “cry it out” are ours to make as parents. Unless there is a medical reason behind their direction, I’m not sure why we should take their advice over that of any other seasoned parent.

I’ve had a coworker tell me that their pediatrician is their #1 guide, an expert on all things related to their child, including non medically related topics such as appropriate car seat use ( I’ll trust the manufacturer’s manual to give me the height/weight limit, thanks!). Some may agree, but I just want a doctor to help us with the medical diagnosis and treatment when our child is ill. Is that too much to ask?

Apparently, yes. We’re looking to take our lad to our old family practice doc.

No vaccination, no school? Not so.

The story of the unvaccinated school children in Maryland was getting a lot of media attention last week. The headlines screamed that kids were being rounded up like cattle, parents summoned to court and potentially facing jail time, and that the parents must vaccinate their children or face expulsion.

In truth, the families are being called on the carpet on an administrative matter with the school district. These parents have the choice to either vaccinate their children or file an exemption. Either one is acceptable, they just must do one or the other. Let me be clear — vaccination is not mandatory in order to attend school. This may not be what you hear from other parents, the school or your pediatrician, but it is true. What is needed is for your child’s records to be up to date with the school so that when the health department comes calling, all the information is accounted for.

You can either file your child’s vaccination record or file an exemption. The kind of exemption available to you varies by state. Two states offer a waiver only if you have a medical reason not to get the shots, most offer both medical and religious exemptions, and a few offer the additional choice of a philosophical exemption.

Some in the anti-vaccination community are up at arms because it has been made out that the children were forcibly vaccinated. I’m not sure this is true (though if it was it wouldn’t be the first time). I do agree that tactics taken by officials involved in the matter have been heavy handed and that the media should have done a better job in clarifying the situation. The fear-mongering is uncalled for and there’s a need to make sure parents are fully informed of their options.

Obviously, the school district and other officials are looking at things from their own perspective. In part, they want to make sure the kids are in school so they don’t lose out on any funding. The onus is on the parents to seek out what’s right for their individual child and then comply with the law.

Shared sleep

I’ve often wondered why people expect babies to sleep through the night. Do adults sleep through? Do they never wake for a drink or to use the bathroom? Then why would you expect an infant to do the same? They have a stomach the size of a marble as a newborn.

From near day one, the main question about our babe (after the routine name, age, size bit) has centered on how he’s sleeping. Truth is, our babe sleeps like a dream most nights. I consider us lucky, but at the same time think that we owe a lot to the fact that we co-sleep. Nobody I know seems to talk about bed sharing but to me it seems totally natural. I’ve ofen wondered if more people do it than let on.

Thankfully, we have the resources available to help us become informed about the risks and benefits of the decision to share our sleep space. Turns out we’re not alone in the choice we’ve made. It seems co-sleeping is natural for our species and very common in many parts of the world.

Some studies show that if done properly it decreases the rate of SIDS, allows parents to more easily hear if their child is in distress and take corrective action, and can even regulate the child’s breathing and temperature. It promotoes breastfeeding, allowing feeding on demand without the need for babe or mom to fully wake, let alone schlep across the house in the middle of the night. For us it’s resulted in better sleep for all involved. It may not be the norm here in the Midwest, but it works well for our family and that’s what matters.

Much of the information out there about bed sharing is doom and gloom, worst case scenario type of stuff. It’s nice to see there are some sites devoted to providing useful information. SafeBedSharing.org can give you the lowdown on how to sleep safely with your babe.

Research and decide

O.K. I admit it, I’m a paranoid conspiracy theorist. If that’s the moniker you get when you question something important, I accept it most gratiously.

I’d been meaning to post a link to this piece for quite awhile now. I like it because it gives a short overview of vaccination issues, explains that its not a black or white topic, and advocates researching and then making up your own mind. (I haven’t purchased the magazine it links to, so can’t speak to that.)

I try to extend this research and decide concept to everything in my life, especially when it comes to our lad. Research, research, research some more and then make a decision based on what you’ve learned and what your instincts are telling you to do. Then continue to research from time to time to see if anything has changed and reaffirm or refute your position.

I don’t like to push my viewpoint on others. I’m not an evangelist, even try to stray away from discussing controversial issues because I dislike conflict. However, when it comes to parenting issues (especially those that could mean life or death) I do think it’s important to advocate that parents at least take the time to build an informed opinion. Your ultimate decision should be your own; don’t thoughtlessly follow the status quo (or the blind wisdom of authority) when it comes to something as important as the health of you and your children.

Vegetarian family values

While I was pregnant I often got questions about being vegetarian. Almost every one focused solely on my protein intake. What I always considered questioning in return was, how is your protein intake? Better yet, do you know how much vitamin C you got today? How are your folate levels?

Where we live a vegetarian diet is still somewhat rare. Some of the questions are based in ignorance (I find many people believe that meat is necessary and aren’t even aware protein is also found in vegetables and other foods), but I can also tell that others are being intentionally judgemental. Some see vegetarianism as a personal attack on their values and bring it up attempting to start an argument. (If I was allergic instead would it still be an issue?)

I can’t say for certain, but I’d hazard a guess that pregnant/nursing/parent veggies are often as or more aware of their nutritional status than omnis. While I was pregnant I tracked my diet pretty closely, sometimes every single thing I ate all day (including the stray piece of candy) was recorded to make sure that I was hitting at least 100% of the RDA for most things and more for key things such as protein. I regularly hit 80+ grams every single day and could tell you (or look up) the numbers for any number of the other nutritional requirements. I had done extensive reading on the topic, as well as received professional advice. I’d venture this is a lot more work than the average person puts into their diet.

Now that I’m nursing the babe (a whole separate point of interest that draws nearly as many comments!), I’m starting to get questions about whether or not I’ll feed him meat or let him have it if he shows interest. I like to think that not eating meat is a value for our family, in the same way that relgion or abstention from alcohol may be a value for theirs. We’ll teach him our position, and then once he’s out on his own he can make a determination about whether he wants to continue. Some have postured that it’s not fair of us to deprive him of the chance to eat meat. I’d like to counter with the same argument considered in the context of smoking. If your child shows an interest in smoking, would it be unfair for you to consider depriving him of this act?

Safe plastics

With all the hullabaloo about the dangers of Bisphenol A (BPA), I’ve been looking into the safety of plastic. Talk about a huge topic to tackle! So much in the way of baby gear is plastic these days, and bottles and toys babes put in their mouths are of particular concern.

So I found this article on safe plastics. It’s geared specifically towards food storage and reheating, but good info nonetheless and doesn’t read like a tome. Makes it easy to quickly identify what is and isn’t safe (supposedly). Also check out these tips to avoid BPA exposure.

Family members and friends, if you’re listening, please consider purchasing natural toys for the lad when gift giving. One less thing for us to worry about and just as great if not more interesting for him.

Becoming a parent…

Becoming a parent makes you question even more. When they asked in the hospital if our babe should get the Hepititis B shot now or wait, my immediate reaction was one of caution. (I hadn’t started doing vaccine research yet at the time.) Still, when it came time to release us and they insisted I get a rubella booster I didn’t think twice. The good thing was the whole process got me thinking about shots in general, the practice of medical care and the fallacy inherent in the modern medical establishment.

After reading the general information sheet I wondered whether the shot I had been given had animal ingredients. That soon sent me searching to find out if it was possible to get versions of the vaccines without. (More about vaccines to come in future posts.) I learned more than I ever planned, and more importantly got a wake up call about the need to follow my instincts and take responsibility for our health care.

Striking a balance

We have been thinking our lad is sensitive to milk protein, so I recently went about attempting to eliminate dairy in my diet. We’d previously discussed going vegan, but determined it would be hard. I figured there’s no way I’d be able to give up cheese, ice cream, etc. Turns out its not been so bad after all. There are lots of replacements and it forces me to eat more fruits, vegetables and unprocessed food in general. All good, right??

Truth is that my biggest worry is that I’m going overboard with the self limiting diet, making eating choices more difficult, and setting myself up for hardship. It creates an extra burden for our family, even my coworkers. The goal is to strike a balance, find a point at which I’m doing the right thing both for myself and the world.