The treatment of childhood diseases or care of children is carried out by medical specialists. The metabolism of a child or infant is different from that of an adult and requires specific training.
There are different professions related to child medicine.
The profession of midwife: a profession at the service of babies
The midwife is a pregnancy specialist. Few men practise this profession. (2.6 % in 2017 in France, they are called midwives) She / They follow pregnant women from A to Z, i.e. from the diagnosis of the pregnancy to the day of delivery. The follow-up is carried out on animation sessions to prepare for the birth (relaxation exercises, yoga, hypnosis, meditation, sophrology) but also on her/his lifestyle. This step is important to help the woman gain self-confidence. The midwife also carries out examinations such as ultrasounds to see the baby’s development.
She is also responsible for the delivery since she is the one who will take the newborn baby out of its mother’s womb.
Thanks to the latest technology (fetal Doppler for example), the midwife works alone unless there are complications. She is then assisted by the gynaecologist-obstetrician or the surgeon.
When the delivery is over, the midwife takes care of the baby and checks whether he is healthy and takes care of the mother’s recovery.
The gynaecological follow-up can also be done by a midwife to prescribe contraceptives .
What is important in this job is listening and relational skills. Indeed, the midwife explains the different stages of childbirth to the mother to reassure her as much as possible.
The neonatology service: monitoring newborns
First of all, the doctors in the neonatology department care for newborns during the first 28 days of life and contribute to the decrease in infant mortality. It is this service, which takes care of premature babies or infants with various pathologies such as malformations (cardiac, digestive, urinary, intestinal, renal, etc.), or respiratory distress, significant growth delays or other symptoms requiring the patient to be monitored in a medically equipped place. This profession also accompanies parents to support them during hospitalization, which depends on the baby’s condition.
The equipment used by the medical teams is specially adapted to the infant, such as the use of a small stethoscope or a baby scale to ensure the child’s proper development.
The doctors in this department are in direct contact with the obstetrician, who follows the infant while he is still in the mother’s womb. The neonatal doctor is accompanied by nurses, nursery nurses and also psychologists.
Fetal malformations have important consequences on the patient’s survival once he or she is in contact with the outside environment. Newborns are constantly monitored and cared for, as are their weight and height via a newborn medical chart.
The paediatric ward: the evolution of the child
The pediatrician takes over the neonatology department. He follows the child on leaving the department until he is 15 or even 18 years old. He takes care of patients whose bodies are in permanent transformation and who have a still weakened immune system. Children can be affected by specific diseases, known as childhood diseases such as chickenpox, measles, mumps and rubella. Vaccines now exist to fight some of these diseases.
The paediatrics department in hospitals takes over from the paediatrician when the child suffers from serious illnesses. (leukaemia, cystic fibrosis, cardiac malformation …) It is also during childhood that many medical abnormalities are detected such as allergies, asthma, diabetes etc… The paediatrician must have pedagogical qualities, to make the child understand the treatments to be followed and the attitude to adopt.
Paediatricians must also have an “advisory” function to support parents in the education of their children, particularly in terms of nutrition, lifestyle and daily care. This step is essential, especially for the first child.
Newborns and young children also often have respiratory problems, caused by congestion of their bronchial tubes. In this case, a visit to a physiotherapist is recommended. The physiotherapist will perform the necessary manipulations over several sessions to clear the patient’s airways, especially in the case of acute bronchiolitis. He will also remove nasal secretions from the baby’s nose manually or with the help of a nasal aspirator adapted to the child’s nasal cavity.
He can identify psychological and/or school problems. For this, it is recommended to make an appointment with a specialist such as an orthoptist. This specialist performs eye exercises to evaluate visual impairment and thus improve it. It is important to consult them very early because if the diagnosis is made early, the vision problems can be corrected with the orthoptist’s exercises.
Child care workers: protectors of children
They are nurses who specialize in the care of children. They may accompany the doctor in the paediatrics department in hospitals and maternity wards or work in a PMI (Protection Maternelle et Infantile) centre.
In maternity hospitals, she is responsible for looking after babies with the paediatrician and midwife. The nursery nurses make the first examination of the baby and advise the mother on care, breastfeeding…
In the paediatric ward, she takes care of sick children by bandaging them, taking their temperature with child-friendly thermometers, giving infusions, distributing medicines…
In another case, she mainly plays a preventive, protective and educational role with the children, sometimes even going to the families’ homes. She is part of a team made up of educators, health workers and social workers.
It is also possible to exercise this profession in a day-care centre or crèche, in collaboration with nursery assistants.
Other jobs to take care of the child
There are many professions around the child, some of which are little known as Doula’s profession. She is a woman who follows women or the couple during pregnancy, childbirth and afterwards if they feel the need. This profession is based on the emotional, practical and mainly based on trust and non-judgment. A Doula accompanies the parents by responding to specific needs. (difficulties during pregnancy, the birth of the newborn or parenting) She can also babysit the elders, do the shopping, housework to help the family. The Doula continues to follow the family postnatally if the parents feel the need. Usually this is the time when they want the most support.
There are many other jobs based on child medicine.
The profession of speech and language therapist revolves around young children who have difficulty speaking, writing, reading… The speech and language therapist organizes workshops to identify children’s problems and thus improve their oral and written communication. The speech therapists examine patients with deafness.
Child psychiatrists take care of newborns until adulthood. This specific profession makes it possible to identify mental disorders such as autism, depression, eating disorders, hyperactivity…) They work in hospitals, but also in medical-psychological centres and private practices.
A psychomotrician intervenes when a child suffers from tics, nervous tics. His goal? It is to reconcile the child with his body. He sets up workshops specific to each request so that the young patient gets rid of his suffering.
All these professions have one thing in common, they focus on the child’s well-being and mainly on his health, growth and development. All these functions are there to accompany your child so that they can be the happiest!