Expectant parents have long lists of "things to do" to prepare for birth and parenthood.
Selecting the baby's physician as early as possible during the pregnancy is one of the most important gifts parents can give their newborn.
A major goal in caring for infants is the establishment of a trusting relationship between the family and the physician.
The best time to create this essential connection is before the baby is born.
At least one prenatal visit will help parents develop an essential starting point.
Available evidence suggests that the prenatal consultation with the baby's doctor has important benefits for child health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advocates seamless continuity of care for the infants of our nation.
A prenatal visit to the doctor parents choose for their soon-to-be-born child is the important first step in this healthy journey.
The family medicine physicians and pediatricians in our community play a vital role as advocates for children and families.
They are in an expert position to support and guide parents during the prenatal period.
Prenatal visits to the baby's doctor allow the physician to gather important information, provide medical literature and identify high-risk situations.
Additionally, physicians can help new parents develop parenting skills.
A prenatal visit is the best time to discuss potential future problems such as food allergies, infant sleep problems, colic and gastroesophageal reflux.
Parents can develop an awareness of these important health issues with prenatal counseling.
Within Colorado, the customary prenatal visits allow the parents to judge the availability and competence of their infant's potential physician.
Expectant parents may want to have a brief interview at several medical offices before selecting a physician for their baby.
It is a good idea to become familiar with the physician's office and feel comfortable in the choice of a "medical home" for their baby.
After the parents decide on a physician, a more detailed interview would permit the family to discuss or ask questions.
Parents can ask about car safety seats, circumcision, vaccines, healthy sleep habits, jaundice, colic, reflux and other infant health issues.
The father or grandparents are encouraged to join the expectant mother at prenatal visits.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that when a father is welcomed at a prenatal visit, he is far more likely to attend future visits, attend the birth experience and stay in a closer relationship during his child's life.
Medical and social risks for parents and infants are decreased by an early and comprehensive prenatal visit.
This visit can be the first step in establishing and developing a trusting and valuable relationship between parents and physician.
Steven Ross, M.D., is a pediatrician at Sleeping Bear Pediatrics, P.C., in Steamboat Springs.