Are Heart Mummers the Next Up Sell for Pediatricians

25 Jul

When my baby was 3 months old a nurse practitioner told me that my baby had a heart mummer. She didn’t bother to ask any of the doctors roaming around the practice to pop in and confirm what she was hearing. Instead, she immediately referred me to a pediatric cardiologist. After calling in a favor due to a 4 month wait at every cardiologist in town, we were pleased to be looked at like idiots as the doctor informed us that not only did the baby not have a heart mummer, but he couldn’t because his heart had already been fully closed by his last level 2 sonogram.

I asked around on Twitter, Facebook, and CafeMom, and received more than 50 responses from other moms who had gone through the same ordeal. So this made me question if this is just a very common up sell methodology among pediatricians. My many moms seem to agree, but add that cranium helmets should be added to that list.

What do you think is the biggest scam in pediatrics?

Sleep Training Rocks

20 May

When you get pregnant, every parent immediately begins to give you advice. You have to learn to take all of it with the intelligence that you can modify any of the feedback to fit your life. One consistent piece of advice I received from moms and dads alike was that sleep training your baby in the first 3 months was the most valuable thing you could do. And boy, were they ALL right.

Some people follow Babywise, while other’s swoon over Tracy Hogg’s methods. Some live to make their baby the “Happiest Baby on the Block” while others are all about “no-cry” sleep solutions and healthy sleep habits. What I have found are the following truths for me:

  • Most people take each book too literally
  • Most of the books, especially “Babywise” doesn’t provide enough answers to questions about wake times and feeding and is so short that when I find people in disagreement with their methods, it’s usually because they are taking the feeding/schedule WAY to literally and letting their babies cry bloody murder (which the book doesn’t tell you to do at all, and our baby NEVER did)
  • Most of the books really are promoting the same methodology, just with different spins and focus
  • A mixture of “Babywise” and the EASY method from the Baby Whisperer worked amazingly for my only breastfed baby who slept through the night (10 hours solid) by week 6.5

Here are the basics of what we did…

  1. We did nothing for the first 2 weeks. The baby ate and slept whenever and wherever he wished, sometimes swaddled, other times not.
  2. We figured out that our baby naturally ate every 3 hours once he reached his birth weight
  3. We began to schedule his eating for around every three hours, waking him to eat if necessary
  4. After a few weeks, we called in a sleep consultant for a day, Robin, who pointed out that I was missing the nap cues and taught me how to create a specific set of sleep time actions that would then teach Peyton when it was time to sleep, and also learn to discern between night and day.
  5. So then we began the routine that we have now:
  • Established a wake time:  7am (we wanted 5am because my husband gets up at 5am, but that would make bedtime too early for a baby’s natural desire of around 7pm)
  • When he wakes up, he eats
  • He then plays (not sit in front of a TV or in a swing, but real interaction and play) for about an hour to an hour and a half
  • Babies will then naturally show signs of overload or tired: rubbing eyes, red eyes, yawns, listlessness, disengagement in activity – and THIS is when you put them down for a nap
  • Putting them down for a nap (which is supposed to last two hours, but I found didn’t last that long until around week 13 – and that was only for AM naps, while most were still 45 minutes) includes swaddling – which babies LOVE, and a song, and a noise machine (little lamb for us)
  • He then wakes up and we start the cycle again until around 6:30 or 7pm (whatever time HE tells us he’s done for the day) and we begin a night routine that includes: a bath, a massage, a story, a song, a tighter swaddle, and the lamb

There is a ton of research out there both supporting and tearing down sleep methodologies of all kinds. Babywise has a specific amount of scrutiny – mostly tied to an assumption that  you are not letting your kid eat when hungry (NOT TRUE) or that you have to let them cry (NEVER happened.) Either way, each mom and family is different and knowing the various options out there that you can investigate on your own is remarkable and helpful. Best of luck towards a good nights sleep!

Did You Really Just Cough In Your Hand, and Then Shake Mine?

24 Jan

Its amazing how vigilant you become about your healthcare when your now concerned about another human. I consider myself a well-informed patient, and consumer. I do a lot of research before making large purchases. I was married to a physician, giving me access to tons of information about the truth in medicine that would scare most of you. I’m highly educated and make choices to pay more for better quality, etc. but never have I had to be more aggressive in interviewing providers then when it comes to my own personal OBGYN, and pediatrician for my son, who will be here shortly.

Over the past month I’ve had the joy of interviewing pediatricians. Of course I started with the requisite search on my insurance company’s website for the list of approved doctors. From that list I asked my awesome OBGYN as well as all of my friends, especially my dear friend Google, which brought me to a list of about 10. I won’t spend too much time talking about how disgusting pediatrician’s offices are in general: sick, naughty kids that are crying and angry parents that are with them, makes this one of the most miserable places you could ever go. And lets not even get into the weird double door theory: if your kid is sick use this door/if your kid is not sick use this door – as they both end up in the same waiting room using the same pen to sign in! Bottom line, going to the pediatricians is indeed even worse than the OBGYN.

There no doubt that if you or your kid isn’t sick when you walk into these places, you will be when you leave. This is especially true if you encounter a pediatrician like I did a couple of weeks ago. No joke, this doctor made more face noises than my pug. He was snotting, coughing, and hacking non-stop. Certainly, he should have been home in bed. But instead, this DOCTOR proceeded to cough in his hand and then reach out to shake mine, 8 and ½ months pregnant.

Really?

Prepaying OBGYN’s

20 Jan

As if insurance weren’t confusing enough, when you get pregnant (which by the way is a pre-existing condition so make sure you have insurance BEFORE getting knocked up unless you have access to a company policy) there’s a whole new set of payment rules and juggling of responsibility. The first of these confusing things is the OBGYN prepay.

Yes, you PREpay for all of your services for 9-10 months. And that lovely chunk of change doesn’t count against your deductible either, adding insult to injury.

How does this work? Somewhere around week 15 or so of your pregnancy the doctors office calls your health insurance and they find out how much of a chunk they are allowed to charge you for all pre-natal and delivery fees according to their contract with the insurance provider. They also formulate based on that current days information, how much of your deductible you have or have not used in the year. The more you haven’t used, the more cash they can ask for in the process. They then quote you a number around $3500 or more and ask you to have that paid in full to them by week 20 or so.

Here’s the beauty of this racket:

  1. That cash payment doesn’t actually count towards any services your doctor is giving you until THE DAY THE BABY IS BORN – it just sits there.
  2. That payment does NOT include all things – no bloodwork, sonograms, extra visits, etc. you get extra bills for those (and keep in mind since the prepay cash isn’t credited to your deductible, it’s not like you’re getting these “extra” things covered by your insurance along the way.)
  3. If you switch doctors (like I did) then YOU get to go chase down your money. The insurance company isn’t going to help you with this either.
  4. If something, God forbid, happens to your pregnancy then you get the additional stress of chasing down your money as well – and the mess that becomes the billing just gets worse from here because they THEN go back to every office visit, etc. and do a price per visit, etc. but on a much higher scale of pay. (OH and the care for this tragic loss won’t be covered either.)
  5. The poor doctor makes NOTHING the whole 9-10 months along the way. They are treating  you for free (with the insurance policy of YOUR cash sitting in their bank, but not allocated to your account) and have to hope that you stick with them through delivery (which is the day they submit for the WHOLE deal.)
  6. And if you are like me and have a $3,000 deductible by year, and are having a baby in February, then no one can tell you how the magical accounting will work with allocating this pre-payment to your visits/delivery while also considering your deductible. For example, as it stands now, with my prepayment, accounting principles would say that I am actually OWED money for 2010 services. I would bet that my follow up blog to this will prove that some magic accounting will  make sure that doesn’t happen though I’ve clearly paid more than my deductible.

I know this much – I can’t think of any other situation where a pre-pay is the STANDARD. And it makes the accountability of your doctor even less enforced. And if you dare try to speak to them like a business person (like I did where I offered a compromise of setting up an escrow account with the pre-pay that we both had access to) they have no idea what you are saying and in fact do not call you giving them $3,500 7 months before your baby is due a “prepay” for some reason. I guess it’s a definition thing.

An extra 300 calories?

7 Jan

When I found out I was pregnant I had just come off of a good 6 months of amazing food intake and working out with my trainer and had lost more than 35 pounds. I firmly believe that this weight loss contributed to getting pregnant after over a year of struggling. And I firmly believe that working out and eating right prior to pregnancy is the best way to ensure an easier pregnancy. After all of this hard work that included 4 days of cardio, two days of a trainer, a bodybugg and 10,000 steps per day – the first thing I was told by a doctor was that I would now have to stop all of this and eat another 300-500 calories per day!

Um, no. I had my body down to a science and know that with my slow metabolism an extra 300 calories will have me gain at least 1 pound per week. This can’t be happening.

So I was on a mission to find out the truth. And here is it: you do NOT have to consume 300-500 more calories per day in order to have a perfectly healthy pregnancy and baby. This standard is being driven by this fact: most women do not normally consume the adequate amount of NUTRIENTS in order to give a baby (or themselves) adequate building blocks. So the extra calorie suggestion is a a sort of insurance policy (they hope) to get women to sneak in what is hopefully an extra GOOD meal. Sadly, most consume these calories in the form of ice cream.

So for any of you that are health conscious, or had lost weight, or are simply being good to yourself, don’t fret: it’s all about the nutrients. All of the books on pregnancy lay out the amounts of each type of food you need: whole grains, fruits/veggies, proteins, fat. And you can indeed get ALL of them only eating 1,400 calories per day if that is ALL you eat.