I didn’t really drink wine while I was pregnant. Not that I didn’t want to, or thought that I shouldn’t. I didn’t drink because the few times that that sweet sweet nectar of the gods touched my lips I got a bout of fiery, intolerable heartburn.
If you are reading that last paragraph with a scrunched up face while thinking about how you would’ve never touched any alcohol during your pregnancy, then I am picking up that mom guilt that you are putting down. And we probably can’t be friends – sorry!
If you read that same paragraph while thinking to yourself how much it sucks that I couldn’t enjoy a glass of red wine and a bath to soothe my aching pregnant body and mind, then we’re probably already friends. Or we should be (call me!).
My point is that my pregnant story is different than your pregnant story but we both (hopefully) had healthy babies and we’re probably already feeling enough self-imposed guilt as it is. No need to pile on any more.
So below is a list of things that have actually happened to me (or things that I’ve shamefully done) that caused undue mom guilt. If you’re doing any of the following mom-shaming things – stop it! And if you aren’t – don’t start!
Please Just Stop…
1. Referring to any kind of birth as “normal”
I had a c-section. Not by choice. My baby was born 4 weeks early because my water broke. He was still breech and there was very little chance that he would get himself turned around in the amount of time that I had before all of my amniotic fluid ended up on the floor of the hospital.
And while I’m slightly sad that I never got (had) to experience a single contraction, I feel lucky that my baby was born happy, healthy, and strong, especially given the less-than-ideal circumstances.
While swapping pregnancy stories with a mom not too long ago, she kept referring to her vaginal birth as a “normal” birth. Which, by process of elimination would mean that my birth was in some way abnormal. Which, obviously, it wasn’t. Because last time I checked the one, solitary goal of any birth is to get that damn baby out of your stomach with as little trauma as possible (for either of you).
All of the moms that I know who had c-sections had some circumstances beyond their control that required surgery. And it’s emotional enough as it is, without the added shaming (intentional or not) from other moms.
2. Giving advice that wasn’t requested
I was out recently with a few other moms and their babies, and my bubs was being very fussy. One of the moms started in with “maybe he’s hungry, maybe he’s tired, you should try feeding him” and so on.
No shit sherlock, I know why babies get fussy. I just don’t know why this particular baby is fussy at this particular time. He could be hungry or tired or cold or maybe he’s just being a dick. If I didn’t ask for advice or give you a pleading “please help me” face, mind your business.
The only worse thing than dealing with a fussy baby in a public place is having to listen to the judgy unwanted advice from other moms.
3. Bragging about your baby
I am 100% guilty of this mom-shaming faux pas so, of course I had to include it. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve told my friends about my baby’s upcoming modeling gig, I’d be rich. But seriously, have I told you that my baby is going to be a model?
My friends don’t outright shame me, but I can see that the look on their face says “IDGAF”.
It’s annoying that I brag about my baby’s future modeling career. And it’s annoying when moms brag about how well their baby sleeps. Or eats. Or that they never cry. Or that they started crawling when they were born. Or that they are brilliant pianists or mathematicians or whatever. We get it, your baby is awesome.
Obviously you can be proud of your baby and their little baby accomplishments. But often that bragging translates to another mom feeling like their baby is inadequate or behind in some way. Just recognize when you are sharing your pride in your baby (good) versus bragging (bad).
4. Formula feeding shaming
Some moms can’t breastfeed their babies. Some choose not to. Some babies are born tonguetied and have trouble latching. Some are just little assholes that try to bite your nipples off and then you bleed and it’s a horrible experience.
Whatever the reason, some moms choose to breastfeed and some don’t. A mom’s reason for breastfeeding or not breastfeeding is none of your business. And no, that mom doesn’t need your advice about how you managed to breastfeed (unless she specifically asks for it).
5. Breastfeeding shaming
I personally breastfeed our baby. Mostly just because it’s free and easy. I’ll probably do it for a year unless he gets teeth and starts biting me. I breastfeed him in public because he gets hungry while we’re out and I’m too lazy to pump. At this point pretty much all of Saigon has seen my nipples.
Don’t tell me that he’s too old to be breastfed or that I should cover up in public. That’s mom-shaming and I’m not here for it. You go eat under a blanket and see how you like it.
6. Saying “your baby is so big/small!”
I was hanging out with a mom the other day who told me that she had just met another mom who, after asking for the age of her baby exclaimed “wow, she’s so fat!” As my friend recounted the story to me, she said “I know my baby’s fat, but I can call her fat, you can’t”.
While it’s true that fat babies are totally rolly polly and deliciously adorable, behind all that chub is probably a parent worried that they are overfeeding. Or worried that their baby will have issues with obesity, or get teased, or a myriad of other concerns.
And the same goes for babies that are really small. Those parents are probably worried that their baby isn’t eating enough or gaining enough weight or that they have some other underlying medical condition that is causing them to be smaller than average.
So a casual “your baby is so big/little!” is actually a loaded statement that can cause new moms unnecessary anxiety. Stick with “your baby is so adorable/cute/gorgeous/beautiful/darling” or any other non-fat-shaming word.
7. Commenting on mom bodies
Speaking of baby body shaming, it’s best to avoid comments about mom bods as well. It’s always a bit of a sticky subject right? I’d say new baby or not, comments about a woman’s body are usually best avoided.
If you say she’s “lost the baby weight”, it implies that you noticed she had baby weight to lose. If you ask about how much weight she gained it might be embarrassing for her. It takes a shockingly long time to lose the baby weight (for me it’s been 7 months and counting) so most moms probably feel discouraged about it enough without your reminder.