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Survey reveals pressures facing first-time mums

20 December 2012

The average worried first-time mum makes 16 trips to the doctors in their child’s first year, a study by leading health and wellbeing mutual organisation Benenden Healthcare Society, revealed yesterday.

Researchers found one in three mums admit they ‘panicked’ and took baby to the doctors' surgery with a common cold, while many worried themselves into taking their tot to the doctors with what turned out to be a cough.

Incredibly, one in ten had even dashed to the doctor believing their baby was unconscious – only to be told he or she was sleeping. While the average new mum experienced 15 bouts of panic during the baby’s first year.

Results showed it takes a new mum six and half months on average to become accustomed to her child’s different cries and coughs without panicking every time.

Yesterday Jean Scott, Member Services Director for Benenden Healthcare said: “Being a new mother can be an overwhelming experience and it is natural to feel anxious about the health of your child. As a mother myself, I know how daunting this can be and how vital it is to get support during this initial period.

“Often getting professional advice when you feel your child may be unwell can be the only way to put your mind at ease, even if it ultimately turns out only to be a cold.”

Fifty percent of mums feel there was a stage they reached where they were able to worry slightly less, but this wasn’t until the child reached 3 ½ years.

Two-thirds of mums made regular checks all through the night to see if their baby was still breathing. And the constant worry over whether the baby is breathing ok doesn’t stop until the child reaches 13.5 months on average.

In fact, the average mum didn’t receive her first full night’s sleep free of worry or without the baby waking until 12 months after giving birth it emerged. One in five mums admitted to worrying too much, while a third considered their worrying to always be justified.

However, 44 percent had been made to feel like they were a hypochondriac or guilty of wasting the doctor or health professional’s time.

Those first months of the baby’s life passed by in a blur for seven out of ten who were regularly worrying.

While a third confessed there were times they felt they didn’t have what it takes to be a mum because of the amount they panicked. And just as soon as they did get the hang of being a mum, seventy percent said they felt like they had to go through a whole new set of challenges as their baby became a toddler.

Nearly two-thirds say there has been a time when they’ve wanted to step in as a mum but had to hold themselves back a bit as they knew they were mothering or protecting their child too much.

But experience counts and 45 percent of those who went on to have a second child said they worried less about getting everything right.

Jean Scott added: “What these results really show is that it is common for first-time mums to be concerned about their child’s health and that most new parents experience this heightened level of anxiety.

“Worry is an unavoidable aspect of motherhood, however, it is important to find the right balance between an acceptable level of worry that ensures your baby stays healthy whilst being able to enjoy the experience of being a new mum – even if this is often easier said than done!”



1. Rash

2. High temperature

3. Cough

4. Knocked their head

5. Not eating or drinking

6. Sneezing

7. Cold

8. Irritable

9. Crying lots

10. Worried they’ve swallowed something


The survey of 2,000 British mums was carried out by online market researchers on 30th November 2012.