Coming home with your newborn is exciting. You are now in a familiar setting (your home), and that alone should be relaxing. But what happens when the nurses aren't there to answer your questions? Unfortunately, babies do not come with instructions, and it's hard to know what's normal and what is not.
Your doctor has already highlighted some of the significant signs that you should not hesitate to rush your little one to the hospital, but what about all the things he didn't tell you about?
Your pediatrician would rather you make the call than ride it out or rely on "dr google." So if your gut is telling you to call. Do it. But what if you aren't sure?
Sick Baby? When To Seek Medical Attention
An unexpected illness is usually not something to worry about in an otherwise healthy baby. But sometimes it is best to consult the doctor as your little one cannot tell you what is wrong. Look for these signs and symptoms:
- The baby has a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher or lower then 96.8.
- Your newborn has bleeding that you cannot stop.
- The baby has signs of dehydration, which you can tell by having fewer than three wet diapers per day, not shedding tears when crying, having sunken eyes, or the soft spot at the top of the head is sunken.
- The baby has diarrhoea or vomits, or displays a whitish mucus in the stool.
- The baby lacks appetite and refuses to feed in more than two feedings in a row.
- The baby has chest retractions. There is sucking in the skin above the collar head, between the ribs, or below.
- The baby has a cold that does not improve or that gets worse. The cold may be characterized by heavy, noisy breathing, i.e., audible wheezes, whistling, or cracky sounds during inhalation and exhalation.
- The baby sleeps more than usual or will not wake up when prompted.
- Any odour, pus, or persistent bleeding from the umbilical cord stamp or penis if the baby has been circumcised.
- The baby has jaundice symptoms. The symptoms are yellow skin or eyes.
- There is ear drainage from your infant or even an eye discharge, i.e., leaking mucus.
- The baby will not stop crying for more than half an hour even after trying all methods to console.
- The baby is not responding to sound or is not able to move.
- The baby has suffered from severe scalds or burns.
- Baby has seizures.
While these are just some of the reasons you should call a doctor, they are not limited to those mentioned above. It is best to err regarding the side of caution, especially when it comes to newborns. Making that call will help you ease your anxiety and worries as the doctor guides you on the next step to take.
In the case of an emergency - call 911. The baby might not be in a life-threatening condition, but we can not forget that their illness can progress rather rapidly. That is why we act as promptly as possible.
You can prepare for emergencies in advance by asking your doctor what to do and where to go if your baby needs emergency care. Also:
- Learn basic first aid, including CPR.
- Ensure to keep emergency phone numbers and addresses where they are easily accessible.
- Note your baby's doctor's office hours and call hours.
- The location of the hospital that the doctor is affiliated with.
- Note down the phone number, location, and name of the pharmacy that you use.
- Have instructions detailing what to do when the doctor's office is closed.
- Have your insurance information handy.
Prepare to Help
When your baby is unwell, we know you are also suffering. Your emotions are all over, and all you want is for the baby to get well. Those are the motherly instincts we have. But before you call the doctor, ensure to have a pen and a paper to write down any doctor's instructions. You should also have the following information at hand:
- Your baby's immunization record: When was the last time the baby had their jab? Do you follow their immunization schedule promptly, and is it up to date?
- Baby's symptoms: What prompted you to make the call? What are your specific concerns?
- Baby's rectal temperature: What is your baby's temperature, and what time did you take it?
- The names and doses of any medication baby might be taking: Is baby under medication, and are the medicines over the counter? Have you tried any home remedies on the baby? If you suspect your baby might have ingested poisons or medications, have the bottle with you.
- Baby's allergies or medical conditions: Does your baby have any known allergies or chronic conditions? How was the birth of your baby?
They might also need to know:
- Any medical problems the baby might have.
- Baby's bowel movement, loose stool, or wet diapers: How many diapers have you changed your baby? How was the stool and odour? How frequent were the bowel movements?
- How long the baby has been in the condition. (i.e., when did you first notice?)
- Possible exposures: Have you travelled with your baby recently? Is anyone around the baby ill?
As overwhelming as the questions might sound, they will place your paediatrician in a better position in regards to the next step, do not tire but keep strong for your little one.
Are you a new mom or dad? It is only natural to worry. One way you can decrease any worries is to arm yourself with information. Learn what symptoms to be on alert for and when to get medical care. It is always ok to play it safe and make the call.