When that tiny new baby is placed in your arms, you know instantly that you’ll do anything to protect them, nourish them and help them thrive. And the first choice you have to make is which medical provider to see if they’re not feeling well, or if you need to check up on their development.
Should you see your GP or make an appointment with a paediatrician? Both options provide medical care for their patients, with the main difference being that paediatricians specialise in the care of patients 18 years and younger. Here are five myths about GPs vs Paeds that you may not know, which should help you make your decision:
1. GPs don’t know about caring for babies
Many parents assume that a paediatrician is the best choice when it comes to medical care for their baby, but that’s not necessarily true. A healthy baby with no specific concerns does not need to see a paed from the get-go (even though they will be checked by one directly after their birth, while in the hospital). A GP is fully qualified to see your baby when he or she is ill from minor ailments such as an upset stomach, fever, a common cold or they have a rash for example.
2. I can visit a paed for any ailment, like I would a GP
This is not a good idea, for quite a few reasons. Paediatricians are specialists and deal with more serious conditions like premature birth, asthma, developmental delays, epilepsy and others, so trying to visit a paed when your child has a cold is counterproductive. Not only will you generally pay more than you need to for a consultation, but you’ll also take a slot from someone who needs it more, when you could have seen your family doctor with much more ease. If you have a medical query you want advice on, some medical aids like Fedhealth offer a Baby Advice Line where you can phone any time of the day and chat to a nurse about your concerns.
3. Paeds can treat the whole family
You may think that because paediatricians are highly qualified doctors, they can treat the whole family, but this isn’t true they only treat children. Using a GP for your family’s medical needs instead means that everyone can be seen at one practise, which adds an element of convenience. It also gives your doctor a holistic view of your family medical history, which can help when identifying symptoms or problems.
4. A paed only deals with physical issues
The word “paediatrics” means “healer of children” and is derived from two Greek words: ‘pais’ meaning child and ‘iatro’ meaning doctor or healer. A paediatrician therefore cares for all aspects of a child’s life, including their emotional and mental health too. This means that paeds can advise on behavioural issues, social stressors and mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, although these might be referred to a child psychologist if necessary. In this way paeds collaborate with other health professionals, just like a doctor would.
Now that we’ve dispelled some of these myths, it’s up to you whether you want to take your child to see a paediatrician or doctor. If your child has a condition that you feel would benefit from seeing a specialist then a paed may be best for you, however for healthy babies with only minor ailments, a GP is often the cheaper, more convenient and better choice.