“I dread when the trading of labor stories starts in a group of moms. I can always count on there being the ‘Natural is the only way’ mom, the ‘I didn’t want to feel a thing’ mom, the ‘I scheduled a c-section’ mom, and me – the ‘I desperately wanted natural childbirth (and had it until my daughter’s huge head got stuck and YES I felt every bit of the vacuum extraction attempts and pulling and stretching until the general anesthesia kicked in) but ended up with a terrifying emergency c-section’ mom.
I don’t feel the need to judge or compete with someone else’s delivery experience, but many women do. I rarely feel that other moms really take the time to understand why I ended up with a necessary c-section. They just hear the word and automatically decide that I must have not tried hard enough, and must have not wanted a vaginal/natural delivery badly enough.
When our choices or outcomes differ from someone else’s they are often considered less than or wrong. I always leave these conversations feeling judged because I didn’t have a ‘perfect’ birth. This mommy shaming has to stop!”
Shame game part two:
Mommy shaming has been around forever. For as long as we have been practicing, women have privately voiced their concerns to us about being the recipient of unsolicited and often negative advice. Family, friends and even total strangers readily offer their opinions regarding labor choices, feeding preferences, family sizes, decisions to return or not return to work, etc – the list goes on and on. Last April, shaming caught national attention after a celebrity stepped out with her husband for a post baby date two weeks after giving birth, inadvertently adding how soon you go on your first date after having a baby to the list of things that new mommies can be shamed for.
Three months ago, mom.life conducted a survey on the topic of bullying and “mom shaming” via their mobile app; 80 percent of the 227 moms surveyed reported they had been the victim of mom shaming, and 67% reported that they were shamed by other moms – that’s a lot of shaming! You might be asking, how does one avoid unnecessary and unwanted advice? Here are our top three tips to help set you up for success, and avoid getting sucked into the new-mommy shame game:
- Surround yourself with positive people. You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends and your mommy support groups! Finding other like minded moms that will give you the support that you need to grow as a new mother is really important. If you haven’t done it already, check out the mom.life app. With more than 850,000 downloads, it is a growing and supportive community where women/moms can come together to share advice, and offer support. Did we mention that the site is moderated to keep bullies and trolls (AND shaming) out? Say no more, we are in love!
- Become a critical viewer of social media messages. There are lots of bullies and highly opinionated people out there – being a new mom is hard enough; don’t subject yourself to this unnecessary torment! Take a minute to make your Facebook and Instagram accounts private, and unfollow or unfriend people or groups that are bringing you down. Thanks to a new update, you can even set your mom.life account to private as well.
- Remember, there is no comparison in labor and delivery. There is more than one way to raise/parent a child. Every birth is different and and no two children are alike. Everyone loves to hear and give advice – be a cautious listener, and don’t let comparisons or unwanted feedback get you down!
Maya Angelou once said, “each time a woman stands up for herself without knowing it, possibly without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” So every snappy reply, every comment that is ignored and every instance that we took a deep breath in and tried to explain our actions equals a win for all moms!
Positive feedback is key, especially after you’ve had a bad day or a miserable encounter. We agree with our friends over at FIT4Mom, “sisterhood is motherhood.” Be sure to find your tribe (other like minded moms) to support you in this sometimes emotionally difficult journey of pregnancy, parenthood and life.
We are happy to report that mom.life found that of the 227 moms surveyed, less than one percent reported that they changed their behaviors as a result of shaming – way to go moms! At Apgardian, we are committed to sharing resources and knowledge to help empower all moms and women alike.
By Nina Wilson, CNM and Mariana Rizzo WHNP