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Open Letter From a ‘Hysterical New Mum’

by Katie Hodgkins

Dear doctor,

My name is Katie, and I’m a new mum.

However, I am not a ‘time waster’.

I am not ‘imagining things’.

I am not ‘impatient’.

And I am certainly not hysterical!

Don’t get me wrong, I frigging HATE the saying ‘mummy knows best;’; pushing a tiny human out of your foo doesn’t automatically award you the status of qualified medical professional.

(Going to get some hate thrown at me for that, but I stand by what I say. Hate away, guys…)

However, It’s appalling when doctors look at a new mum, worried about their baby, and write it all off as ‘hysterical new mum syndrome’.

“Your screaming, puking, sobbing child covered in eczema is fine. He must be, because he’s gaining weight consistently.

It’s definitely NOT an allergy, despite your family history.

No, I won’t refer you to a paediatrician or prescribe anything stronger than ranitidine, even though you say it doesn’t work.

I think you’re lying when you say that the Gaviscon and ranitidine are useless.

Just wait and see if he gets better,  I won’t be prescribing anything.

You’re just an hysterical new mum.”

(Obviously paraphrased!)

It took six visits to you. SIX.

You referred me to a paediatrician begrudgingly, to get me, the crazy hysterical bitch, off your case.

And get this… I was absolutely correct; Max has CMPA (cows milk protein allergy)! He also has presumed lactose intolerance due to his reaction to my breast milk even when I was on a dairy and soy-free diet.

(All mammalian breast milk contains lactose, its a naturally occurring sugar regardless of mums diet. It’s not the same as CMPA, which is an allergy to the proteins in cows milk and can be eliminated from breast milk through diet restriction unlike lactose intolerance.)

You made me cry. Admittedly, I’m not known for being stoic, and I wear my heart on my sleeve, but you made me weep on my way home from your appointments. Is that fair? I was always polite to a tee, barely said boo to a goose, and yet I was slaughtered.

I knew what I was dealing with, when it came to Max. I’ve been there myself.

I’m not putting it down to ‘mummy instinct’ as I’m fairly sceptical of this; I read, I learn, and as someone who has CMPA & LI themselves, I’m acutely aware of the genetic influences behind allergic predispositions.

Don’t get me wrong, as you can probably tell, I am a huge supporter of the medical and scientific community. I’ll defend your expertise over mummy instinct any day of the week. But some bedside manners and compassion wouldn’t go amiss.

I can totally understand the frustration surrounding patients who ‘self-diagnose’ and waste your scarce appointment time. The NHS is under huge strain and I get that!

However, there is a difference between a hypochondriac patient who self-diagnoses a brain tumour because they read about it on google, and someone who accesses trusted bodies such as the NHS for correct information and makes an informed, balanced observation about their child based on this and their family medical history.

And surely, as a General Practitioner,  once establishing that nothing you’d recommended was working, your first port of call should have been to refer me to someone who specialises in paediatric health, instead of brushing me under the carpet and leaving my child to suffer purely because you have a personal issue with prescribing medication, by your own admission?

A child who is obviously suffering can’t be treated holistically.

A child who is not thriving cannot get well with ‘patience‘.

I love the NHS, but please, don’t penalise worried new mothers to save time and expense wasted by other areas of inefficiency in the system.

As the song goes… the children are our future.

Respect them. Listen to them. Listen to their mothers. Mummy may not always know best medically, but we know our babies best.

I will never let you patronise me, or reduce me to tears ever again, as neither me nor my family members will accept an appointment with you now.

But, please Doctor, pay heed to my words.



This is a story that I have read WAY too many times in our private group, not only about CMPA & lactose intolerance, but a plethora of other conditions too.

Too often, the automatic assumption is that a new mum is inexperienced, paranoid and worrying about nothing, often even after all possible solutions have been exhausted.

Colic is passed off as ‘normal crying’. If you even dare suggest that gripe water/infacol/etc is useless, you get the ‘side eyes’ and raised eyebrows that imply you’re chatting shit.

Severe reflux is just “one of those things… keep persisting with the highest doses of ranitidine, omeprazole and gaviscon even though it’s been a month with no change.”

Eczema has various creams thrown at it with no motivation to seek out the root cause.

The list is endless…

Fuck that!

I’m sick to my stomach of the stigma attached to new mums.

Don’t worry enough?

You’re careless! Social services should be called.

Worry too much?

You’re hysterical! Munchhausen’s/basket case/helicopter parent.

If you ever feel that you’re not being taken seriously, and are being refused a referral, there are a few pathways you can go down;

~ Complain to the practice manager – this is known as a ‘local resolution’.

~ Raise a formal complaint through NHS England if the local resolution doesn’t go anywhere. You have a 12 month limit from the event to do this.

~ Seek a second opinion from a different GP – I couldn’t do this due to there never being any free appointments other than with one specific GP.

Be your own and your child’s advocate; you are your baby’s voice!

Don’t be afraid to complain; this could help prevent more parents and poorly babies from unnecessary suffering.

New mum? Yeah.

Maybe I do worry too much.

But hysterical?

If being proactive, well-informed and determined to seek answers makes me ‘hysterical’, then guilty as charged.


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