When you go to an appointment it can feel a little like being a duck out of water to begin with.
We can go in expecting all the answers; then leave feeling deflated because we didn’t ask the right questions or we felt the professional didn’t take us seriously. So many nursing mothers go along hoping for answers and support with diet and identifying triggers, to be sent home either told their diet doesn’t matter, or only the top 2-8 allergens go into their milk, or just handed samples or a prescription for some kind of hydrolysed formula (typically broken down dairy) or an amino acid formula (dairy free – protein component from the building blocks of protein so its the least allergenic formula).
This can’t be avoided completely, professionals vary so vastly on knowledge of allergies, breastfeeding and nutrition; those with a more integrative or functional approach may be better than most. Regardless of how amazing – or unhelpful – our professional support is there are some things that can make appointments a little less painful.
1) Lower your expectations!
Sorry! This is a bit of a downer to start on but the truth is: the higher you set your expectations, the harder you fall when they aren’t met. The lower your expectations the more likely you are to be happily surprised and ultimately more satisfied with the support you receive.
2) Realise Health Care Professionals (HCPs) are human.
They aren’t omnipotent gods who know all. They are people who have done a lot of study and practice in *one* specific area, or more general practitioners learn a little bit about a more broad scope of different areas. Most mainstream allopathic healthcare systems around the world separate the body into sections, and specialists focus on their organ or system for their studies and practice. Most don’t relate diet to illness and those who do often depend on highly flawed testing methods. Most are taught of the importance of breastfeeding in theory without more than minimal, if any, additional support or training into how to support mothers in their breastfeeding journey.
3) Take a second pair of hands if you can!
I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but especially in the early years with a wriggly child who may need comfort or distraction, having another person with you so you can focus on your discussion with your practitioner can help make things a lot smoother. If your the kind of person who gets flustered and rambles out information in a not necessarily coherent manor – like me, especially with HCP’s – this can help you be more concise and make them not assume your clueless because you’re distracted or fumbling.
4) Take Notes/History
Take a concise written down history, with your questions and aims for the appointment. I’ve added links to example templates for what we use below. This can help so much! We have found it saves us from repeating ourselves at the beginning of every appointment, going over the same history again and again. It allows them to have a quick summary of where we are at so we can focus the appointment on where we are going rather than where have been.
5) Read up!!
Read up on any conditions, tests, medicines you would like to consider or investigate. People criticise “Dr. Google” but the truth of the matter is the internet has a world of information at your fingertips, you can have access to all the patient information leaflets for all prescribed medications, all the most up to date scientific and medical journals in the world. You have a wealth of information available to you which can help you make the most informed decision possible for your child and family. This isn’t something to dismiss or snub, it is a tool to help us be the best parents we can be.
From medications to vaccinations, our children can be more predisposed to adverse reactions to these things because their bodies are already struggling. As helpful and as informed as any doctor can be, they *are not* our child’s parent or advocate – we are – so we need to use all the tools available to make the best decision for them treating them as the individual they are. Taking professional advice on board but not taking it as gospel, because at the end of the day it is *one* professionals opinion, different professionals have different opinions. It’s our job as their parents to weigh up these opinions – not to follow them blindly.
6) Don’t be discouraged!
If it’s not a good appointment, it’s not the end of the world. There are other doctors out there. If you think you have a specific issue like FPIES, MCAS, or a chemical intolerance, these can be notoriously difficult to find professionals that are aware of them – let alone familiar or competent to diagnose or treat. It can be worth asking in online groups for specialist or professionals near to you who are well versed in them to avoid further disappointments.
I hope you have a good appointment and are able to find someone who will work well with you and your child’s individual situation.
Appointment Prep. Lists:
Appointment prep. sheet.