Q&A with Paediatric Nurse

At the beginning of July I was lucky enough to talk to Paediatric Nurse and Health Visitor Katherine Whitby…

Katherine, thanks for taking the time to talk to us at London Mum’s Magazine. It’s great to get a real glimpse into the world of a Paediatric Nurse and Health Visitor.


·       Having children is such an emotional
rollercoaster and certainly in my case, the nurses and mid-wives
that looked after me were extraordinary. You have two children of your own, so
you know first-hand what it’s like. Do you think this helps you empathise with your clients?


Absolutely there is no doubt that I imagine
what it would be like for my own children to experience the situations I see
and how the parents must feel.  I
hope I was always very empathetic before I had children.  I have always tried to put myself in the
shoes of the people I care for but being a Mummy has certainly taken this to a
whole new level.


·       The first hours/days/weeks after your child
is born are so special. They are also emotional, chaotic and scary. Are there
any ‘old mid-wives’ tales or ‘tried & tested’ tips you know for keeping
your strength up after childbirth and through those long night-time

meningitis hospital baby


I certainly need my sleep
doesn’t really correlate with being a Mummy of small
children!!!  So I have always tried
to have ‘quiet time’ whenever the children have napped although there is always
the risk I rush around trying to do jobs – so the ‘sleep when they sleep’
kind of rule.  Also think drinking
plenty of fluids and eating well helps keep up your strength and some good
old-fashioned fresh air can work wonders for you and the baby!


·       A friend of mine made a Spaghetti Bolognese
with their placenta (!). Have you got any weird & wacky placenta stories to


Well I was actually looking at getting my
placenta with my first child into special capsules that I would take to give me
loads of nutrients and vitamins etc. 
However my daughter arrived a month early and I never got round to it!


·       On a more serious note, you now run Baby
Steps a company giving First Aid courses to parents. How invaluable do you
think it is to go on a First Aid course?


You can’t put a price on being able to help
your child in emergencies big or small while you are waiting for emergency
services.  Having heard parents talk
about their desperation and helplessness at not knowing what to do I think it
is so important for parents to have the confidence from knowledge of first aid
to help them relax and enjoy being with their children and also how to prevent
accidents for different ages/ stages.


When my son was
about one-year old, he was hospitalized for 4 days with Septicemia from an
undiagnosed urinary tract infection. I had visited my GP 3 out of 4 days and on
day four he was seen with a temp of 40º. 
I was sent away and told to try baby Nurofen,
as I had only been giving him Calpol.

·       That night we ended up at A&E as he had
started fitting from the overheating and his body had gone into shutdown.
Luckily, thanks to the amazing and rapid response from all the hospital staff,
he made a full recovery. Although it could have been a very different story and
until this happened I was not aware how dangerous a high temperature can be.

·       What would your advice be if you discover
your child has a really high temperature? And how long should you leave it
before taking them to the hospital?

Temperatures are one of those situations
where different children can react at different temperatures.  So it is not possible to say at
temperature X go to the GP and Y go to A&E.


It is always important to know why the
child has a temperature e.g cough, cold, after a
vaccine, tummy bug and if not seek advice.


However high the temperature always bring
the temperature down slowly to prevent shock – cool, loose clothing and
covers, lukewarm bath, if using a fan keep at a distance and don’t be tempted
to fling the windows open.  Your
child will feel cold so nice soothing gentle measures.


With advice you can use Paracetamol
and Ibuprofen as appropriate for your child’s age.


Always look at the whole picture in terms
of how your child is reacting, feeding, playing, any other symptoms and trust
your gut instinct.  If you are
unsure or they aren’t improving seek advice.


·       What are the warning signs for the really
serious viruses like Meningitis and Septicemia (blood poisoning) – maybe
there are some links you can point us to?


This link to the Meningitis Research
Foundation list the signs and symptoms:


It is important to remember it is rare and
our children are vaccinated against certain strains of meningitis.  However it of course concerns us as


Many of the symptoms are evident in other
childhood illnesses.  No one is
expecting parents to diagnose meningitis (it takes laboratory tests to do
that!) but if you are concerned your child is deteriorating and your gut
instinct is they are clearly unwell then again do seek advice.  If your GP cannot find a cause for the
temperature they should refer you to A&E.  If you can’t wait for a GP appt go to a Paediatric A&E


·       Measles and Whooping Cough are on the rise
as parents have opted out of the immunization scheme. What can you tell us
about the dangers of this?


and clean water have been the biggest changes to save lives around the
world.  They work on ‘herd immunity’
so sadly a decrease in the uptake of vaccines will result in a return of these
illnesses, which were previously reduced. 
People have forgotten of the life threatening risks they pose, as it has
been a few years since we have experienced their dangers day to day.  It remains in the UK a parents right to
choose whether to vaccinate and we live in a climate of so much information it
can be hard to know what to believe. 


Thank you so much
for taking the time to talk to us. To finish, if you could give 5 Top Tips for
mums-to-be and new mums, what would they be?


·       Only
read things on a need to know basis there is sooooo
much information out there!

·       Be
kind to yourself by giving yourself plenty of treats!!

·       Ask
for help – there are no prizes for doing it on your own and no one
expects you to

·       Take
one day at a time, things you worry about usually end up being so much easier
than you thought!

·       Enjoy
it all as much as you can, it goes so quickly and the things your little ones
say and do are so magic.  Try and
either jot things down or I fill in the ‘notes’ on my iphone,
a new one for each month to remember my special moments with my little ones….you think you will remember but too much changes.  They are amazing to read back on!



Katherine Whitby is
the owner of
Baby Steps, which offers relaxed and friendly First Aid, Weaning and Baby
Massage courses at home or at local venues. Their team of
experienced nurses are
passionate about teaching CPR and choking
techniques, accident prevention, first aid and managing childhood illnesses,
Weaning info and offering support. The courses include lots of chances to ask
questions and babies are always welcome.




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