Surviving hospital appointments with a babyPublished Date: 24 Feb 2022
We never expected the first audiology appointment we had to be the first of many. After getting referred following a failed newborn screening test when Lucas was a day old, we honestly expected to be told he had a load of mucus in his ears and for him to be given a clean bill of health. Turns out we were wrong, and after a diagnosis of severe to profound permanent hearing loss at the audiology appointment, it became apparent that we would be regular visitors to our local hospital for the foreseeable future.
As a new mum of an eight-week old, I definitely hadn’t mastered the art of getting out of the house on time for anything and found car travel with a baby and a pram a real faff. I wasn't confident feeding Lucas in public yet and was not looking forward to long waits in hot hospital waiting rooms with a grizzly baby. He’s nearly six months old now, and we've had about eight different hospital appointments so far. I’m learning from every appointment, but I thought these tips might be of use to those of you who are also new to this.
Get there on time
Most NHS appointments only give you a 10-minute grace period, so giving yourself loads of time is essential. Work out how long it takes to drive to your appointment and add another half hour on top to account for traffic, parking, fiddling with the pram, walking from the carpark etc. This extra time helps you to avoid feeling rushed and means you can arrive in a more positive mindset.
Scope out parking ahead of time
Suss out where the parent and child parking is so you don’t get stuck not being able to get the car seat back in the car. We have a big multi-storey carpark at our hospital, and the parent and child spaces are right on the top floor. It’s worth calling your local hospital to find out where your parking is and then make a beeline for it.
Hospitals are hot. Dress your baby in layers that are easy to remove. Lucas had a big meltdown in the ENT consultant’s office after two hours of appointments a few months ago, and it was because he was overheating and overtired. I now always dress him in cardigan layers so I can strip him down to a vest once we get there.
Find out if there’s a quiet room
Most hospital departments have one of these, and I’ve found them very handy when Lucas has been grizzly. You can switch the lights off to get your little one to sleep, or feed them in a more private environment. I always pack a dummy in the change bag now too so that he can soothe himself to sleep if he’s too distracted to feed.
Don't fit too much in one day
Things will overrun. If you can, try not to schedule anything else in that day. Invariably, appointments run late, and you don’t want the added pressure of having to rush back for anything. And appointments tend to be exhausting for you too, so don’t try and fit too much in. Also, take some entertainment with you for baby - a favourite toy or a teether.
Take notes and schedule your next appointment
For earmould fittings, make sure you don’t leave your appointment without scheduling your next one. Also, if you’re attending appointments alone with your little one, take a notebook so you can jot important information down which is easy to forget. Always ask for results or appointment information to be printed out for you too.