Having children is a learning experience. As a doctor you feel, prior to having children, that you know most things about how children work. When I had my first daughter I realised that I had so much to learn! Even as a health professional you feel unprepared to deal with the impact of a new child in your life. Don’t get me wrong, having the medical knowledge behind me did help to manage a lot of the anxiety that comes your way, but even for someone who had a head start in knowing about children, it was a scary experience.
It made me realise that for people who have little or no medical experience, the anxiety must be much worse. So how could I help people in this situation, (namely most of the world)?!
Learn About Children
As with many things in life, it starts with education. Read, read and read some more, but from the right sources. It is useful to find a resource that you can refer to if it is 3am and you want to know if what your child is doing is normal or not. An example would be raisingchildren.net which provides information for parents regarding children of all ages. Many parents know, as children get older, one problem gets better, but then another comes along. Learning how to deal with each issue makes life so much easier.
Next, as a parent we all secretly worry about emergencies. What do you do if your child starts choking or burns themselves? It is imperative that all parents learn what to do and the British Red Cross app provides good advice. Download it and learn. There is no excuse. As a parent you are responsible for your child and knowing how to deal with health emergencies is essential until the ambulance arrives. (Remember, if in doubt, call an ambulance).
Emergencies aside, I guarantee you that one day your child will be unwell: a cough, an ear infection or diarrhoea. Being exposed to these bugs helps your child to develop their immune system, but as a parent you need to support your child back to good health. One of the best pieces of kit that I bought was the thermometer.
I was at my mums with my children one day. My mum says to me, “I think your son has a fever.“ I put my hand on his forehead like parents do, “No mum, he’s ok”. She ignores me and gets a thermometer to check his temperature. She gives me that look that mums do, “ It’s 38.4” (that’s high!).
It made me realise, get as much objective information as possible. I wouldn’t check someone’s temperature at work by putting my hand on their forehead, so why would I do that at home?!! For a small cost you get a piece of equipment that gives you so much information. Is your child well? Have they responded to the medication I have given them? Do I need to take my child to the doctor?
See A Doctor
If a child is really unwell, you need to see a doctor quickly, but this is not always possible. Often they are fully booked or closed. The revolution in healthcare will make healthcare accessible at a time convenient for you. What many people don’t realise is that this is possible now.
There are numerous online GPs that will see you online within minutes. "But it is not the same as seeing a doctor in the flesh!", I hear you say! True, but a lot of information can be obtained just by seeing and talking to someone and advice can be issued by the doctor, quickly.
Online GPs will never take over from traditional GPs, but they will become part of the journey when someone is unwell. We would say an online GP service will be of real value to parents who need prompt advice.
Your New First Aid Kit
To make the review by the online GP as useful and most importantly safe, having the right tools is essential. When I see a child I look in the ears and throat, listen to their chest and take a good, head to toe look at them. Products such as digital stethoscopes are available which, with guidance, can be used to listen to someone's chest if they are at home and I am at the clinic. In the USA gadgets are available that will enable me to look in their ears and throat as well. As a doctor I need to obtain the right information to make a safe decision about your child’s health. The tools are available to provide that information now. By getting hold of them enables you to access healthcare where and when you need it.
Getting Your Child To Sleep
The final product we have highlighted is one that helps with a problem that affects many parents, why isn’t my child sleeping??! In the early years getting your child into a normal sleeping pattern can be hard. The disrupted sleep can cause stress in relationships, affect your work and generally make you feel like you are going mad. Having guidance along the way, giving tips and strategies to help your little one and you get a good night’s sleep can go a long way. It can make you feel that you are back in control of a helpless situation.
Huckleberry is an example of an app that can help with this. When you have reached that point of exhaustion, simple clear advice that could help get your child to sleep can go a long way to making you feel more in control of a difficult situation.
But There Is Much More!
The list of products we have identified as our favourites have been produced by trying to identify where technology can really help you as a parent, with the anxieties that you face on a daily basis. There are many more products or services available, as can be seen on the website. Have a look through and see if there is something else that you identify with, during the stage of parenthood that you are in today.
Parenthood, is hard but rewarding. I was told my life would change completely when my first child was born but only for the better. This is true, but it ain’t been easy. With the right support and guidance, technology can smooth the bumps in the road of life that often come your way, when your life has been enriched with children.
Blog post written by Dr Khurram Akhter.
Khurram is an experienced primary care physician and a thought leader
in the field of digital health.
Disclaimer: This text does not serve as medical advice and if you have any questions, seek advice from your doctor.