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quality child care

Meet Newcastle paediatrician Dr Mahlaba as she talks about her journey with medicine and her love for children. She also shares her top tips for mothers to remember

Dr Busi Mahlaba chose to be a paediatrician because she not only has a passion for medicine, but also an incredible love for children. “Children are our future; they are the pillars our tomorrow will rest on. Through my work, I can play a small part in ensuring that they get the best medical care so that they can grow strong and healthy.”
She spent most of her life growing up in the Durban area. “My dad was a pastor, so we moved around quite often. Every three years, he would have a new church and congregation to look after. Mom is a professional nurse and she was of course my inspiration for pursuing a career in medicine.”

The most rewarding experience for her as a paediatrician is when children come to see her crying and miserable, but they leave her office smiling. “My twins are six months old now, so I understand that finding a good paediatrician you can trust is essential.”
She started her business at Essence Woman’s Centre in Newcastle while she was expecting her children. “In some ways, it was not just new life being born in the form of my children, but also my business.”
Her husband is also a medical doctor and with both of them doctors, they try to keep their work and home lives separate from work. “Our lives very much revolve around medicine. He has been practicing in Newcastle for over a decade. He is such a dedicated professional and that inspired me to pour myself into my work and give it everything I have. But when we get home in the evenings, we try to switch off and just be a normal family.”
On the rare occasion that she has spare time, this Newcastle doctor enjoys interior decorating. “Interior decorating has always been a keen interest of mine. I’m also the head of paediatrics at the Newcastle Regional Hospital. There I sometimes have the opportunity to enjoy another one of my hobbies; event planning. I am also a keen netball player, always keen for a good match.”
She has a total of 12 years’ experience, seven as a general practitioner and five as a paediatrician. “There is so much I would like to do in the future, with my practice and for children in general. The future always holds a sense of mystery, but I’m excited about the journey.”

Tips for mothers:
I think one of the scariest things is taking the newborn baby home from hospital. Mothers have no idea what is considered normal.
If a baby cries a lot at night, there are certain things to check before you jump to the conclusion that there is something major wrong. Check the normal things like is the baby’s nappy clean, does the baby need a feeding or burping, is the child too hot or too cold, and also remember that children need love so it is essential to also give them cuddles.
When you should worry about a fever: Get yourself a thermometer. Normal temperature is around 36 to 36.9. From 37, try some home remedies like using a wet sponge to cool the baby down. Keep some Panado syrup handy and for babies over three months, also Calpol syrup. If their temperature doesn’t drop between three and four hours, seek help. If the temperature is above 38, try the home remedies in the car on your way to hospital.
Blocked noses are always a problem with babies. If you are breast feeding, pour two drops in each nostril. Breast milk can also be used in babies’ eyes.
While breastfeeding is best for babies, it is not the end of the world if for some reason you can’t. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Weaning a child onto solids: There is a definite pattern that should be followed. First start the child on rice cereal or oats, then veggies and only after veggies introduce them to fruits. If you try fruits first, they are more than likely not going to eat veggies. You can start weaning them between four and six months. They have to be physically and intellectually ready for it.
Pregnant moms should always remember to start saving when planning on starting a family, as your everyday expenses will skyrocket. Then there is also varsity that needs to be saved up for.
Be careful who you take advice from. Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone’s opinion matters. Children don’t work according to books and every child is unique and will develop in their own way at their own pace. Books can act as a guide, but it’s not carved in stone. Also don’t be discouraged if your friend’s baby develops quicker than yours; give your child space to develop at their own pace.
People are often confused about what the right crèche-going time for children is. Three years of age should be about right. At that age, they really do need extra stimulation. They will be exposed to a variety of illnesses, so be prepared to deal with a sick child. Immune boosters can help, but the child will still get sick.
Make time to spend with each of your children individually. While joint activities are good to strengthen the family bond, it is vital to give each child individual attention.
Children’s physical health goes hand in hand with their emotional and spiritual health. Those aspects of a child’s development is equally important to their overall wellbeing.
For parents who have teenagers, it is important to make sure you maintain good communication. Teenagers need to learn that there are consequences for every decision that they make. Teenage pregnancy remains a big problem in society. Make sure you talk to your teenager about these things, even if it might be an uncomfortable subject for you, their future depends on it.
Teenagers often battle with pimples, this is a normal phase of development. Make sure they have a good hygiene routine, using reliable products including a good moisturiser. If you notice that the problem is getting out of hand, take them to the doctor to have something prescribed. Always make sure that you and your teenager are aware of any side effects that the prescribed acne medication might have. Above all; ensure that you seek medical intervention if the condition becomes severe, as it could lead to scarring both physically and emotionally.


Northern KZN & Midlands Get It November 2018

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