Baby on the way? Consider a holistic pediatrician

Dr. Nazia Sheriff — with Olive Leaf Pediatrics — conducting Enzo’s first pediatric appointment on his 2nd day of life… in our home while I laid in bed next to them.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for… 2.5 years, so I guess now is as good a time as any!

When Baby E was on the way, I knew I wanted to find a holistic pediatrician; a doctor who takes a whole-body approach meaning that the body, mind, and spirit are all taken into consideration. If you’re looking for the same and you live in the Bay Area of California, please consider Olive Leaf Pediatrics in Orinda, CA.

Dr. Nazia Sheriff was/is truly a wonderful human being and works with families to meet them where they’re at. When selecting her as Enzo’s doctor, I was even able to do a call to discuss if her practice was right for us — before E arrived of course — and she made me feel so at ease and secure with our decision. Once baby was here, that feeling never shifted… I only wish we could have taken her with us on our move to Arizona… and then Washington. Although, I do like our current pediatrician as well so even if you’re not in the Bay Area, don’t despair, there’s other wonderful doctors out there who care to take the whole-body approach.

Things to consider when selecting a pediatrician:
  • Does the doctor do home visits? Ours did for just the first month due to our distance from her office and that was AMAZING. I believe her model might have shifted so that she only does home visits now — which is so cool! — but I highly suggest families look for pediatricians that will do home visits at least initially because staying in your little cocoon when baby arrives is magic.
  • Do you feel comfortable discussing anything and everything with your child’s doctor without judgement? Being able to have honest and open communication with the pediatrician is so necessary, and a doctor who works with families and actually hears them is important. Being a parent — especially a first time mom or dad — is stressful enough, no need to add a doctor in who makes you feel shitty for any reason.
  • How easy is it to reach your pediatrician? Dr. Sheriff was available via text message pretty much 24/7 and by phone/email 99% of the time too. The texts weren’t going through someone else by the way, they went directly to her. I would even send her monthly updates with pictures just because that’s the type of rapport we built. When E started having shaking episodes, the fact that I was able to send her a quick text and then received a call within minutes was sooo soothing for my mommy heart.
  • Can you afford to pay out of pocket for a different type of care that fits your families needs more than traditional pediatric coverage? We had regular medical insurance through Haroon’s work, and this service was a separate monthly cost. For us, it was worth it loving our pediatrician and knowing she could offer or refer all the same things a “regular” doctor could: newborn home visits, sick visits, well child visits, labs and imaging, vaccines, telehealth, hospitalization support, an online portal, etc. while taking a holistic approach. I remember when E’s birth marks on his arm came in, she diagnosed the exact type but went one step further and reached out to a pediatric dermatologist — a friend and colleague — to get her take as well… no cost, just for our peace of mind; it’s a different type of partnership you build with a concierge-style doctor.
  •  Do you want a pediatrician who won’t just reach for the prescription pad anytime something comes up? While we only got to work with Dr. Sheriff for 6 months of E’s life, the fact that her approach is holistic is SO INCREDIBLY GREAT. I never wanted a doctor who’s first response to illness was antibiotics, but instead someone who suggested lots of preventative ideas (like probiotics for gut health for example), and then would let us know what to watch for before antibiotics would be necessary. She also is someone who’s able to share her opinion without mandating it… in today’s world, that is such a blessing. Imagine working with someone who is more like a trusted friend who supports your choices as a parent but isn’t afraid to respectfully give you her opinion as well. Plus, who doesn’t love a strong woman doctor — who’s a mom as well — who practices with compassion?!

Maybe this became more of a Fan Page for Dr. Sheriff 🙂 , but — thankfully — even if you don’t live in the Bay Area, this model of care is available in other areas as well… and if it sounds right for you, I suggest you take the time to do the research and try to find one that fits. I will admit, the research is time-consuming and will likely take a lot of phone calls/emails to offices that seem like they might be right but maybe their websites aren’t 100% clear… but finding the right fit is definitely worth the leg work. Loving the care your baby is in — and again, I think this type of care is especially important for the first year of life — brings a peace and calmness to parenting that is truly priceless.

P.S. Dr. Sheriff, thank-you for the best introduction to a holistic concierge pediatrician!

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