A pediatrician manages the physical, behavioral, and mental health of children. Pediatricians have extensive training in the diagnosis of childhood illnesses, and make sure children meet developmental milestones. Megan DeShazo, MD, does all of that and more and takes pride in caring for children from infancy to adulthood.
DeShazo, a native of Birmingham, is a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatrics. She is an alumna of the University of Montevallo and obtained her Medical Doctorate at the University of South Alabama, where she also completed an internship in General Surgery. She completed her Pediatric residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi.
A mother of quadruplets, DeShazo says that being a mother helps her relate to parents and gives her a unique perspective in caring for multiples. "I have a general pediatric practice, and I like to see graduates from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), because we were there for so long with our children," she says. "I enjoy seeing multiples and helping parents figure out how to manage multiple children of the same age."
During her residency, DeShazo was assigned to treat multiples, because she had experience with those babies. "Because of the experience with my children, I know the frustrations that these parents go through. You can read baby books, but you can't apply information written for a single baby to multiple babies. So many things are different when you have more than one child - feeding schedules, breastfeeding, pumping," she says. "I didn't have a special interest in multiples until I had my own, so I didn't realize how different it is and what the specific struggles and problems a mother faces when raising more than one child at a time."
Premature birth and other complications can result when carrying multiple babies, but DeShazo says these babies don't necessarily have more health problems than single-birth children. "You can have multiple children who are perfectly normal or multiples who are extremely premature and have medical problems. We may see those babies spending some time in the NICU," DeShazo says. "You can have multiple children who are perfectly healthy or multiples who are extremely premature. Premature babies can have problems with breathing, the heart, and the brain as well as gastrointestinal, blood and immune system issues," DeShazo says. "I have experience with the NICU and NICU graduates as all of my children were early. It is stressful to have children in that unit, and parents need someone who has had that experience to guide them. Because a child is a multiple doesn't necessarily mean they will have different health needs. It is usually more of a socialization issue."
In addition to her patients, DeShazo aims to help the parents with issues and advice. "Keeping multiple babies on a schedule is difficult, so it helps to be able to talk with someone who has been there before and understands. I tell parents it's okay if you aren't perfect. At the end of the day, if everybody has been fed and everybody is healthy, you've done a good job," she says.
DeShazo points out that parents can become overwhelmed with several babies who have the same needs - diapers, feeding, tummy time. "Being able to share that frustration with someone who understands can be therapeutic. I also make sure parents understand that each baby will develop at a different pace and with different personalities. Although they are an age match, each one is different."
According to DeShazo, each year with multiples gets easier in some ways, but a bit harder in others. "When they're babies, they are completely dependent on you. That can be stressful, because you are trying to meet their needs equally," she says. "When they get older, you will need to meet their individual needs. You want to give each child what he or she needs, and that can be difficult. Each child has different temperaments. As a result, there is no one-size-fits-all discipline strategy. You don't have to do everything right. You do the best you can do. At the end of the day, if you have healthy, well-adjusted children, that's what matters."