It’s difficult being a new parent and navigating all the “firsts.” No, not just the first smile or laugh, but the first blowout, the first time your child throws a tantrum, and the first time you have to fire your pediatrician.
Unfortunately, pediatricians are regular people just like you and me. And, that means sometimes they just suck.
We see our child’s pediatrician a lot over the years, so it’s worth it for your sake and your child’s to find one you like. And if you don’t like them, switch.
It took me a while to see all the red flags about my pediatrician’s behavior. I only wish we had left her sooner.
My pediatrician was intense and talkative, which I interpreted as engaged and caring — I was wrong. She left no room for questions (red flag) and overreacted (red flag) to the smallest things.
During well-visits, the pediatrician would take my daughter without explaining what she was about to do (red flag), instead of telling me ahead of time and asking permission.
Then, my pediatrician said my 3-month-old baby had muscular atrophy or muscular disease. She said we needed to immediately see a pediatric neurologist at the children’s hospital. (This was April 2020, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.) My heart rate skyrocketed, my breathing became labored beneath my mask, and panic set in.
Three days later, I hauled my daughter 50 minutes in the car to get to the children’s hospital. The pediatric neurologist was kind, calm, and respectful. She talked to me first and explained the entire exam, then performed the exam on my daughter, while narrating the entire exam again.
After a minute she scoffed and said,
“I’m sorry but your pediatrician completely over-reacted and misdiagnosed your daughter. She’s fine. There are no signs of muscular disease or atrophy whatsoever. In fact, coming here was probably a waste of time.”
I was relieved and I was angry. This was the biggest red flag and I did not miss it. We immediately switched pediatricians. Now that we see a normal pediatrician, I realize just how bad our other one was.
If you’re not sure about your pediatrician, or think you’re seeing some red flags, check out these other common red flags:
They lack consent
I experienced this with my first daughter. The pediatrician picked my daughter up by her hands in a way that could have given her nursemaid’s elbow, without asking me before she even touched my daughter or explaining what she was about to do.
I didn’t even realize how bad she was as a pediatrician until we switched, and our new pediatrician is so gentle and respectful — you know, like you would expect a doctor to be with a child or any patient.
They are dismissive
When you have a concern or question about your child or about parenting, you should feel 100% comfortable asking your pediatrician. Appointments are not a one-way street where your doctor does the exam and you just passively sit there. You should be encouraged to ask questions, discuss concerns, and make comments to your pediatrician.
If your pediatrician dismisses your questions or cuts you off while you are sharing your thoughts, it won’t make you feel heard or cared for.
They exhibit any type of racism
Racism, in any form, is never okay and never acceptable. If your pediatrician makes a racist comment or racial slur about you, your child, your partner, your children, or anyone else, it is time to switch pediatricians.
If they exhibit any type of racist belief or action, it’s time to switch pediatricians. And if you can, submit a formal complaint. This is an immediate reason to find another pediatrician.
They ignore new research
A pediatrician who is still telling parents that drop-side cribs are okay or “breast is best,” is not the pediatrician you want to be around.
While each parent has the right to choose what’s best for their child, pediatricians are supposed to be the arbiters of the latest (sound) medical research. They should be aware of the newest research affecting babies and kids and share it with parents. If they are not staying current, they will not be providing the best healthcare for your child.
Their personality sucks
Trust is an essential part of every relationship, including the one between you and your child’s pediatrician, and your child and their pediatrician.
If you or your child don’t click with your pediatrician, and you don’t like their personality, this could cause communication issues and isn’t a good basis for a long-term relationship. If you don’t get along with them, you won’t feel comfortable asking questions or sharing concerns.
When in doubt, go with your gut instinct.
Sometimes we can’t always explain it, but something “feels off” about someone. We meet them and we feel uncomfortable. While it’s worth asking yourself why you feel uncomfortable, if you can’t come up with a reason but the feeling persists, you can always change pediatricians.
Even if you switch to another pediatrician within the same practice, it can be worth it. You and your child(ren) deserve to be treated with respect, kindness, and professionalism. If your pediatrician isn’t treating you and your child(ren) this way, it’s probably time to find a new one.