Reason Number 24: New parents. My primary hospital is a 120 bed community facility with an active labor and delivery unit. Approximately 80 families add a new member there each month. Despite the pushes and pulls of running a growing (outpatient) pediatric practice, I have maintained my hospital privileges to see the newborns and their families. For most , a new baby is a very happy time, and I thrive on that optimism.
Especially for first time parents, advice abounds. From grandparents. From friends. From the medical staff. Even from the stranger ahead in the check-out line in Target. With more access to information, parents are more well-read than ever. Despite the amount of information or maybe because of the volumes of it, new parents have lots of questions. The perinatal period opens a window in the minds of new parents, and they are often hungry for valid opinions. My role is to coach – go through the pros and cons of a decision – help them test the waters of their new roles – with common sense and objectivity.
My own children have nurtured the coach in me. They’ve taught me flexibility, and to see that they are people with opinions, too. They’ve also taught me that realism and common sense. Prior to my firstborn, I quoted all the statistics about the values of breastfeeding to my new parents. The evidence was so clearly stacked that I bought a wiz bang breast pump anticipating my new role as working, breastfeeding mother. That pump never left the box. Firstborn Will came out with clear intentions that the claustrophobic work of nursing was not for him – he cried and cried every time I tried to latch him. I cried and cried, too, feeling my first taste of “failure” as a pediatrician/mom. A weak milk supply didn’t help matters, either.
That experience was the foundation of the spiel I give to new parents. Each parent has an inner voice or gut feeling that tells them the right way to nurture their child – pay attention to that voice as it is rarely wrong. Watching and guiding parents to find their groove is a very rewarding part of my job.