Ending Mum Shaming

Photography:Opal Imagery

By Dr. Dawn Kingston

More often than not we don’t know the full story behind why a mum is choosing to do what she is doing. Celebrity mum Chrissy Tiegen shares that she experiences plenty of mum-shame: “It’s pretty much everything,” Teigen told Today, with the majority of comments centred around how she feeds her kids, uses her car seats and screen time.” 

It seems that when someone gets pregnant or becomes a mum, a lot of advice or opinions are given, requested or not. Sometimes these comments come from a well-meaning place, other times they don’t.

Some comments may come from people you know, but other times they come from acquaintances or even strangers.

Not all (unwanted) comments come from people without children. Some come from other mums. Comments such as, ‘Why aren’t you breastfeeding? You should be breastfeeding,’ or ‘Why aren’t you using formula? You should be bottle feeding with formula’

When Comments Sting 

When you hear an unexpected comment about the choices you’ve made while pregnant or as a mother, it can come as a surprise. Even if it seems harmless and trivial to the speaker, it can derail the day of the person it was directed at. 

Here are some examples of questions and comments that are unhelpful: 

While Pregnant 
  • Birth is so painful. Why are you having a baby? 
  • I don’t like that name. 
  • Was it planned? 
  • How long did it take for you to get pregnant? 
  • You look like you’re about to pop! 
  • Your belly is so big/small!  
  • I thought that since you’ve been together for so long without kids you didn’t want any. 
  • Was this planned? 
  • You’re carrying so low/high. 
  • Good luck, do you know what you’re getting into? 
  • How does your partner/do your parents feel about you getting pregnant (again)? 
  • Should you be eating that? 
During Postpartum 
  • Why are/aren’t you going back to work? 
  • Why aren’t you giving your child a sibling? or Why are you having (insert number) of kids? 
  • You still look pregnant. 
  • You should/shouldn’t be breastfeeding/using formula. You’re not trying hard enough. 
  • Why are/aren’t you co-sleeping? 
  • You just need… (fill in the blank) 
  • Why haven’t you lost the baby weight yet? 
  • You’ve lost a lot of weight. 
  • They grow up so fast, enjoy it while it lasts! 
  • You should be happy. You and your baby are healthy. 
  • It’s just mood swings, all mums feel that way. 
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