As an advocate for children’s health and wellness, I can’t stress enough the importance of establishing newborn and pediatric care that has a “whole-child” focus. The relationship-centered model can be seen in practice long before pediatric check-ups. When a mother chooses her doula, she sets the stage for holistic care in the days after birth. Just as doulas provide on-going support that address the mother’s pregnancy and labor needs on a physical, emotional and psychological level, holistic care should continue when the child enters the world.
When we look at the whole child, we must keep in mind that children function within the context of their family network and environments. They live in contexts that are unique to themselves, have varying cultural practices and values, different genetic blueprints, and all children benefit when these differences are considered in relation to their health and wellness. Here are a few things that new moms should look for in health care for their children:
1. Consideration of Family Context & Integrative Assessment
Children do not live in a vacuum! Look for a healthcare provider that will ask you about your family structure, lifestyle factors, and will address any current stressors which could be affecting your child’s health. The team will need to work with you to assure you have the key support needed.
2. On-going Research and Complementary Therapies
More and more parents are looking for medical options for their children that yield results with minimal side effects. This may include complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, nutrition and energy medicine, to name a few. Find a medical home that strives for excellence in research and quality, and can help you decipher the best course of treatment and care through all of the confusion of trends and tradition.
3. Grounded in the Concept of Prevention
While many parents bring their children to see a health care provider for acute issues, likes colds and fevers, find a provider who will address the long-term health of your child. After the presenting problem is addressed, the course needs to be altered to support your baby’s future health. Every intervention has its consequences, and moms should enjoy a healthy, two-way relationship with their baby’s health care provider that allows open, non-judgmental discussion of pros and cons or each.
Where I practice, the Atlanta Center for Holistic & Integrative Medicine, our team to prioritizes providing our pediatric patients with the best integrative and functional medicine options. Each part is not separate from the whole—mind, body, and spirit must all be addressed to create optimal health. All of this is done in a caring, safe, family-centered environment.
While you navigate your healthcare during pregnancy and birthing, ideally with the support of your doula, keep in mind that your holistic health journey does not end with the birthing day—it’s just beginning!
Stephanie Finn is a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Registered Nurse at the CentreSpringMD.
Read Part 3 of 3: Why Having A Doula Makes Labor Better And Easier