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Trusting Your Pediatrician

Going to the doctor with a newborn can be especially stressful if you're not confident in your doctor's abilities. Is your pediatrician right for you? Judy Nolte, Editor-in-Chief of American Baby Magazine, weighs in.

First, don't allow yourself to be intimidated by your doctor. "You and your doctor are supposed to be partners," says Nolte. "How can he give you the best advice if you don't tell him what's on your mind?" Many parents get nervous, or even embarrassed, by the small concerns they may have. They'd rather remain silent than discuss them with the doctor because they're afraid they'll look stupid or they'll take up to much of the doctor's time. Your pediatrician is there to help you. He or she will listen to anything you have to say, no matter how big or how small your concern.

Some parents are also afraid to ask their doctor questions about their child. Or, they may become distracted by their son of daughter's crying while they're with the doctor and forget to bring up things that have been on their mind. Prepare your questions ahead of time. Make a list throughout the week of things to bring up at your next appointment. "Sometimes you can ask for an extra hour or an extra appointment if you've got a lot of questions to ask," says Nolte. Just be sure to schedule it ahead of time so your pediatrician knows in advance.

Also, don't be embarrassed by your questions! No question is too boring or too stupid. Chances are, your pediatrician has heard the same question a dozen times before and won't be surprised by what you have to say. Many doctors even keep hours open throughout the day just to return phone calls. Even if you can't reach your doctor immediately, a nurse may be able to help you. Always insist, however, that you be seen immediately in the event of a medical emergency. Otherwise, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room at your local hospital.

Some parents also feel that they must always agree with their pediatrician. That's not always the case. "There are a lot of issues in child raising that are very controversial," says Nolte. "If you feel something and [your doctor] feels something different, speak up." There's no rule saying you must agree with your pediatrician on every issue. By opening up to your doctor, you will be able to find a solution that you are both happy with.

If all else fails and your doctor is dismissive, is rushing you through visits, or you just can't seem to see eye to eye, considering finding a new pediatrician. Nolte suggests leaving, "If you really fundamentally disagree on issues and you're not comfortable taking his advice." Trust is key when it comes to selecting the right doctor. However, if you truly feel like leaving, "Don't be afraid to do it," says Nolte. "You deserve the best care and so does your baby."

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By Erin Petrun