Pediatricians Are Doctors, Not Gods

newborn babyOne of the most awful stories in the news this week is the one about the pediatrician who allegedly waterboarded his daughter while his wife looked on. Horrific, stomach-turning, and totally inexcusable are adjectives that come to mind. It's always nauseating to hear about a child being abused -- by anybody -- but the fact that the alleged abuser was a pediatrician makes the whole thing so much worse.

Typically, when we think of pediatricians, we think of people with compassion, right? We think of people who are there to keep our children well; people who will make our babies better when they're feeling sick. We think of people we can go to when we need answers to questions.

Or not.

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I'm not against pediatricians at all. Not in the slightest. I go to one. Well, I don't, but my daughter does. But in the three months she's been alive, I've realized something about pediatricians: They are not gods, and they're not there to tell us how to raise our children. They're there to do their job, and sometimes their job requirements conflict with "what's best" for our kids.

Again, I am not against traditional western medicine; that's not what this is about. I know it's amazing and drugs keep people alive, etc. etc. etc. I'm talking about little things. Like vitamin D.

The very first time I brought my daughter in to the pediatrician, she was 4 days old. The doctor checked her out, everything seemed normal, but she told me I should consider buying vitamin D drops to give her. She wrote down a brand for me and everything. "Why, is she deficient?" I asked. "No," the doctor said, "It's just something we tell parents now, per the American Academy of Pediatrics."

Now, clearly the AAP knows what they're doing, clearly they're much smarter than I, but it just seemed weird to me. And it didn't seem necessary. My apartment had sufficient sunlight. I talked to a few friends who never got such a suggestion. It went against my gut. So I didn't do it.

It's a small example, but the point I'm trying to make is nobody knows your child like you do. And nobody has your mama's instinct. If your pediatrician makes a suggestion that doesn't "sit well" with you -- and it isn't a serious health matter -- don't take it. It's your baby, not theirs. That "vitamin-D"-type of advice they're doling out? It isn't tailor-made; it's meant for the masses.

Do you take every suggestion your pediatrician gives?

 

Image via shiladsen/Flickr

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