Welcome to Week 31! With just nine weeks to go, it is time to really start considering what you can do in preparation for delivery, and the days and weeks that follow. Trust us, it is a lot easier to make the time for it now, than it will be once the baby arrives!
What exactly are we talking about? Read on to find out.
Up until now, your contact with medical professionals has most likely been limited to your OB/GYN or midwife and any support staff they have. But it won’t be long (about nine weeks to be exact) until you will need a whole new team of medical professionals, led by a paediatrician or in some cases a family practitioner or a GP.
Although it might feel premature, week 31 is actually a great time to start looking for a paediatrician. Many doctors will welcome visits from expectant parents and are happy to form a relationship with your family before it expands with the arrival of your baby.
There is no right or wrong way to find a paediatrician for your baby, the main thing is that you are comfortable with your final choice. You can ask friends and family members for recommendations. If you are a member of social media communities you can browse through previous endorsements for particular doctors; you will probably find that the same names come up time after time. You can research using the internet and look for local paediatricians. Many health facility websites will include a personal bio for each of their doctors, so you can read through to find one whose approach and methods resonate with your own beliefs. Finally, you can, of course, make appointments to go in and meet a doctor in person.
When you do go into your prospective doctor’s office, here are some good questions to ask:
- Do you take my insurance, or what are your fees for private paying? (Depending on your financial situation, this question might be pivotal to you making a decision. Remember, you have no way of knowing at this stage how often you will need to use the services of your paediatrician, but at the very least you will be visiting the clinic for all the newborn vaccinations within the first year. If not covered by your insurance, the fees can soon add up).
- Are you certified to practice at the hospital/birthing center where I’ll be delivering? (If not, don’t worry; it is very common to see the on-call paediatrician who works for the hospital during your stay. They will be able to perform the initial checks and routine newborn tests. Then, once you are discharged, you can follow up with your preferred doctor and switch your baby’s long term care to them).
- What can I expect from clinic visits?
- What is your position on things that are important to me (such as certain dietary practices like vegetarianism/veganism, circumcision, vaccinations and breastfeeding)?
- How long have you been practicing?
- What is your policy for after-hours calls and/or visits?
- Who do you work closely with and/or can I meet your staff?
- What is your position on antibiotics?
This is not an exhaustive list and you may think of other questions that are important to you. The main idea is to find a doctor whose practices, beliefs, and general approach fit well with your family. If possible, take your husband along with you to meet any prospective doctor. It might be useful for you to have an additional opinion, even if you anticipate doing most of the clinic visits once the baby is born.
It is not an understatement to say that your relationship with your paediatrician can be one of the most important associations you form in the early weeks and months of parenthood. Invest the time into finding the right person now, around week 31, whilst you still have the energy, freedom, and mobility, to look into it in detail. The last thing you want is to be frantically searching for a good doctor in a time pressurised situation after your baby is born.
Your baby’s foetal age is now 29 weeks. He or she is likely to weigh almost 1.5 KG by now and measure 43cm from the top of the head to the tips of the toes. All curled up in the uterus, by week 31, your baby is about the size of a coconut. This week, your baby is still pretty active. The major work going on now is weight gain. In fact, you can expect a real growth spurt to start in the next few weeks.
“There are so many ways your partner can be involved in breastfeeding other than directly feeding, like bringing baby to you for evening feeds and helping to wind them when they are done.”
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