New moms know the feeling all too well: paranoia.
There isn’t a mother on the planet who hasn’t worried about their new child’s welfare, often to an extremely high degree. It can even lead to worried mom syndrome, postpartum anxiety and/or depression.
First, Rule Out Postpartum Depression
Post-natal anxiety and depression is common, and can last for anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks, so it is important to understand your level of worry as a new mom. There are many great resources if your level of worry is becoming intolerable, or if you’re concerned it may be outside of the typical norm.
Being a Mom, Being a Surgeon
As a mother myself, I know what it feels like to experience healthy fear and worry about my children’s health. As a pediatric surgeon, my worries are often complicated by what I’ve seen and treated firsthand at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
But I’ve also seen when worry was unfounded, and trips to the ER unnecessary. And with the proliferation of information available today, online and through social media channels, it can be hard to judge what’s of the utmost concern, and what’s just normal worry.
When Worry is Warranted
Here are few of the common situations or injuries that we see in the ER, and which are most dangerous, to help inform your thinking:
- Pins, thumbtacks, small toys: Swallowing these household items can lead to injury to the airway or esophagus in an infant, and should be kept far away. They should also be mentioned to small children as dangerous, though at this age, they are unlikely to be deadly.
- Magnets: Swallowing one magnet can be a problem, two or more can be extremely dangerous, so keep them far away from kids. We see and operate on multiple children a year who have year who’ve swallowed more than one magnet and developed a bowel obstruction.
- Coins and jewelry: Shiny objects should be mentioned to children as unsafe for consumption.
- Pieces of plastic wrap: Scan the floors for pieces of plastic when you have babies crawling around in your house.
- Furniture: Items up high can fall, such as bookcases or TVs on dressers. We recommend getting on the floor – your child’s vantage point – to see if there’s anything that could fall, and then secure it. Also, folding or collapsible furniture can be very dangerous, with the ability to trap a child’s head and cause choking in more severe instances.
- Bathrooms: Supervision is important in the bathroom, as water faucets can create potential hazards with falls and injuries.
- Peanuts: Dangerous from a choking perspective. I told my kids they couldn’t have a peanut until they could spell p-e-a-n-u-t.
- Popcorn: This can seem innocuous, but easy to choke on for children and best avoided.
- Corn nuts and sunflower seeds: Can be choking hazards, keep these away from toddlers.
- Fish and chicken bones: These can get stuck in the upper airway. Be sure to check the meat before your children eat these items, and if swallowed, take them to the ER rather than try to extract at home.
Other Common Injuries
- ATVs: Strongly advise parents to prevent kids under 18 from driving or riding. Others have called for a ban entirely; we have many admissions annually from this, and some are certainly fatalities.
- Other off-road vehicles like golf carts or rhinos: Similar to ATVs, vehicles moving at high speeds with no seatbelts can be deadly.
- Car: Make sure kids are properly restrained, and don’t let kids lie down.
- Guns: If your child is visiting friends, it is 100% OK to ask whether there are unsecured guns in the home first. Sadly, this is such a common issue.
When in doubt, you can call your doctor for consultation. It’s also important to note that Phoenix Children’s has an urgent care center in the East Valley, among other Valley locations, that is open weekday nights and weekends to help mitigate concerns and mishaps that naturally occur.
What worries you most as a mom, and how to do you manage that worry? Share in the comments below.
Surgical Director, Arizona Mother Baby Care