Today’s Generation P guest post comes from Andrea (Drea) Nanini, co-owner of CrossFit South Arlington and mother of 18-month old Nehla (featured in our header photo). While many assume the challenge of growing kids Paleo starts when your child is born, Drea quickly realized the process starts far earlier, with choosing the right family pediatrician. Drea lays out her best advice, in her own words below, to help you choose the family doctor who is right for your Gen-P child.
Drea Nanini, Paging Dr. Right
I didn’t really consider how difficult it would be to find a pediatrician for my daughter – but it turned out to be one of the hardest pre-baby details. I ended up doing nine (yes, 9!) interviews until I found the right pediatrician. (I was amazed that it was so difficult to find someone who didn’t piss me off. I have high standards, but I am a very laid back person!) It was important to me to find someone who was supportive of what I believed. I was entering into a relationship with a person who was going to be a part of my family for a very long time.
I was about to embark on motherhood for the first time, and I knew nothing about it. However, I am also far from uninformed. I am a great believer in biology and I had faith that my natural instincts would kick in, and although I was raised very differently, I fall somewhere in between the beliefs of Eastern and Western medicine. One thing that I have grown to realize is that the relationship that you have with your doctors should be personal, and the one that I was going to have with my daughter’s pediatrician was important to me. You visit your doctor’s office a lot when you have kids, especially when you have a newborn. The idea of not having someone who served as a support system for me and my new family wasn’t going to cut it. Additionally, I had made some very conscious decisions on how I was going to raise my daughter: eating a 100% whole foods diet, breastfeeding as long as possible, using as many natural products as possible (cloth diapers, homeopathic remedies), implementing an amended vaccination schedule, and respecting her as a little person through a modified version of attached parenting.
The Interview Process
There are a number of ways you can find pediatricians, but I found talking to friends or people who are like-minded to be the best. (That is obvious now, but at the time I was asking other doctors – that quickly proved to be a bad plan.) Call the offices of the doctors you are interested in and ask for an interview, as most offices have hours set aside for new mothers. When you make your appointment, pay attention to the people who answer the phone as well, they are often a good indicator of the “pulse” of the office. If you aren’t feeling comfortable, cancel your appointment. Remember, this is about what is best for your family, and if you don’t feel comfortable, trust that instinct.
When you go in for your appointment, take in your list of questions (see below) and be very candid about the way that you feel about things. Doctors can be very intimating, and I found a number of them to have God-like complexes, so do not let them push you around. I was told time and time again, “You know nothing as a new mother, so I will tell you how to raise your child.” My personal favorite was, “Your labor will be very difficult, but don’t worry, you can start taking quiet strolls after six months.” Each time, I was careful to explain that childbirth was not victimizing – and then excused myself from the interview so that I didn’t reach over the desk and kick some ass.
After you’ve found your doctor and your amazing bundle of cuddly joy is born, there is still plenty of work that needs to be done. Hopefully you found a wonderful doctor that supports you. Remember, they see a number of patients every day and they aren’t always going to remember every detail. It is our duty as parents to be active participants in our child’s life, including their medical care. I do research before going to any appointment, but be careful – there are a number of great resources out there, but there are also a ton of bad resources, too. Educate yourself carefully, relying on those you trust (whether it’s friends, family members, books or on-line resources) and make decisions based on what you believe is best for your child. I tell my doctor if there is something that I don’t feel is necessary for my daughter. I also take notes in-between visits so that I can go in with questions that I may have along the way or developmental milestones that are happening. It is important to stay open-minded for the things that they may not agree with you on. As one example, they will usually make a case for vaccinations – they are doctors after all, and there are certain things that they either trust in or that they are required to say and do. Ultimately, the decision is up to you – stick to your guns if it’s something that you feel very strongly about, or settle with a compromise. If you ever feel that you aren’t supported, get a second opinion or change doctors all together. One final test – see how your newborn reacts to their doctor, as they have an amazing sense of character!
Part of the Family
Enjoying the company of your pediatrician is of the utmost importance. Not only are they forming a bond with your child – they are forming a bond with your family. There is a lot of scary stuff out there, especially when it comes to taking care of children. We need to be able to count on our medical professionals to support our wishes every step of the way. Be an empowered parent and be an educated and active part of your kid’s life. Most of all, don’t take any crap. You know what is best for your family, and that trumps all!
Along with her guest post, Drea sent along a list of 28 questions she used when evaluating all nine of her prospective pediatricians. We’ve attached a ready-to-print PDF document so you can bring Drea’s questions to your pediatrician interviews. Use these conversation-starters to gauge how well each doctor fits your idea of a family physician. Add questions that are important to you, and skip over anything that doesn’t apply or isn’t of concern to you and your family. Have your own interview strategies, or wish to share your experience choosing a pediatrician with other Gen-P parents? Post your thoughts to comments
Andrea (Drea) Nanini lives in Arlington, VA and is the co-owner of CrossFit South Arlington. She is the proud mother of 18 month old Nehla, who has been on a 100% Paleo diet since birth.
Drea writes, “Becoming pregnant and having a baby changes a person. For me, it also made me re-evaluate the way that I live my life and the world around me. I have made a very conscious decision to raise my daughter Paleo, and intend to breastfeed as long as possible. My family takes a more holistic approach in our daily lives, especially as they relate to our health and well being. The reality is that my family is healthier because of my daughter, and I think that is pretty awesome.
I now have the chance to give my daughter all the tools she needs to live a long and healthy life. I am dedicated to continuing down this path, as it continues to show itself valuable and enjoyable. My daughter has fueled a passion on a range of topics that I never expected to even get a chance to experience. I know that I am a little biased, but she is an awesome little person. I look forward to sharing my experiences and journey with you!”