This first appeared in The Standard Newspaper on August 14,2016.
First time mothers must be a nightmare to doctors. We keep calling for silly reasons…
‘Daktari! Her tongue is peeking out all the time!’
‘She is breathing heavily.’
‘Daktari, she has not pooped since lunch time.’
It is natural to worry about your baby. I personally think the doctors would be taken aback if we are casual about everything. But that does not mean we should call them every time we think there is a problem. It is a delicate balance between care and responsibility. Here are a few reasons that should not be subjected to this dilemma though – if you notice them, you should call the doctor right away.
Fever- if your baby is hot and has a high temperature(at least 38 degrees Celsius), it is cause for alarm especially for children below 3 months old. Fever usually implies that the body is fighting an infection. Note that fever after immunization is normal which can be treated with a painkiller but talk with your doctor before giving any medication.
Difficulty breathing – This is something you have to keenly look at for sometime because babies tend to breathe in a different way. They have been known to stop breathing for a few seconds. Look out for signs like laboured chest movement,flaring nostrils and rapid breathing. If your notice any of these or a combination, call the doctor immediately.
Not feeding or Vomiting – the average newborns feed every two to three hours. So, if your baby is refusing to feed and has less than 4 wet nappies in a 12 hour span, it is time to call the doctor.
Redness around the Umbilical cord – your baby’s umbilical cord stump takes up to 15 days to fall off and it is important that you keep the area clean and dry. You should always keep an eye whenever you change their diaper, for redness, excessive bleeding or yellow discharge.
Diarrhea or constipation – diarrhea in babies is loose or very watery stool. The color might be yellow or green. Persistent diarrhea or constipation(hard, pebble like stool), which is accompanied by bright red blood or mucus, calls for an immediate action.
Remember that a mother knows her baby more than anyone else, so even if things seem normal with your baby but your inner voice says otherwise, trust your gut and call the doctor.