New Baby Advice from Your Friendly Pediatrician: Part One

Hey! Lately it seems like we have a ton of brand new patients, and so I’m repeating my newborn spiel a lot. Therefore, I decided to publish it here for all of you to enjoy as well. You can thank me later.


First and foremost, if you live in Northern Nevada, have your baby in a hospital. Other cities may have Birthing Centers adjacent to hospitals where Certified Midwives with obstetrician back-up can deliver your baby—but not here. And any labor and delivery nurse, or post-partum nurse, or neonatologist, or pediatrician would NEVER EVER EVER EVER have their baby at home. We’ve seen way too much bad stuff happen to lovely parents who did everything right.You gave up lunch meat, sushi, brie, cold medicine, and dirty martinis for 9 months, read every book on newborns every printed, decorated a nursery, researched child development, preschools, circumcision methods and 14 brands of BPA-free bottles. Why wouldn’t you make sure your baby’s birth was as safe as humanely possible? Even completely low-risk pregnancies can go wrong in seconds. My son Tegan’s umbilical cord had what we doctors refer to as a “true knot.” You can see it in the picture above. If he had grabbed onto his cord and given it a good tug, he could have died. You can’t see that on ultrasound. But the monitor would have shown changes in his heart rate, and we could have gotten him out in minutes, because I was in a hospital. Even if your house is only 5 minutes from the hospital, that’s 10 minutes before a doctor who deals with true emergencies every day can start to resuscitate your beautiful baby.

So now you’re going to the hospital! Yay! What do you bring? The good news is, very little. The nursery will provide blankets, a shirt with the hospital’s name all over it, diapers, wipes, even a pacifier if desired. You do need a breast-feeding pillow, one cute baby outfit for pictures, some underwear you don’t care about, and pajamas you don’t mind all your relatives and friends seeing when they come visit. By all means, bring your birth plan. I feel obligated to inform you that every time I see a family with a laminated, 3-page birth plan, they have the absolute messiest, most complicated, miserable experience possible. I don’t know why. One of my fellow pediatricians thinks that the incredibly detailed birth plan is indicative of a state of high anxiety, which results in slower labor and higher complication rates. Sounds super sciencey, but there aren’t any studies on that.

Of course, in almost every case, even the families that have unplanned c-sections, epidurals, and accidental formula feedings still have their lovely new baby when they go home! Birth is a messy, painful, unpredictable affair—it’s good to hit the hospital with a sense of humor and a “go with the flow” attitude. Nobody’s birth story goes, “unicorns and rainbows flew around the room and caught the baby and she floated to my breast and smiled while she nursed perfectly for very the first time”–well, unless they are on A LOT of medication. And thank goodness, because then how would we scare the new pregnant women with our highly graphic and borderline inappropriate descriptions of our deliveries? The doctors and nurses that care for you in the hospital really want you to have the best experience possible, but their primary goal is that both you and the baby survive the process. Sometimes in the heat of the moment, your medical team may not communicate very well or things may happen that you don’t understand. If you think something is wrong, or you are treated inappropriately, speak up! We can’t fix it if we don’t hear about it.

Next time we can go into what to do after the little cutie gets here!

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