When your child is born, there is no book that parents are given with specific instructions on how they are supposed to raise the baby. If you ask any parent, they will give you a list of parenting choices they have been shamed for; some that are appropriate while others that are downright ridiculous.
If the child is not being neglected and mistreated or is not potentially inflecting harm onto themselves or others; do we really have the right to judge? Depending on where the parent lives, the culture, or the lifestyle, many parenting decisions can vary drastically. Instead of constant judgment, mothers should be a tribe of women who love, support, and have the ability to relate to one another. Here are 10 things that we need to stop mom shaming for.
10 Breast vs. Bottle Fed
Scientifically speaking, there is no debate about which method is better to feed a baby. Breast milk is considered to be “liquid gold” since it has every vitamin, nutrient, antibody, and is easily digestible and can change to fit the baby's needs.
However, some women either choose not to breastfeed or can't due to low milk supply, lack of support, or it does not fit their busy lifestyle. As a matter of fact, despite the knowledge of breastfeeding being the ideal method, the rate of women who choose to breastfeed is only 30%. The reason why is that formula is a healthy alternative of milk that has been formulated to be as close as possible to what breast milk has.
Surprisingly, both options come with criticism. Mothers who formula feed are harshly criticized for not choosing the healthier method, and those who breastfeed are sometimes accused of “starving” their child because of how often the baby has to nurse. Whatever decision is made, the most important thing is that the baby has a full belly of milk to be healthy and thrive.
9 Breastfeeding In Public
There have been great strides made in recent years regarding the normalization of breastfeeding. However, social opinion about whether breastfeeding in public should be tolerated is still heavily debated. Breasts are seen as something sexual, but they are on a woman's body for the whole point of feeding a baby. Breastfeeding is the optimal method of feeding a baby from newborn age to one year.
Even if a mother tries to feed her child on a schedule, she cannot completely control when her child will get hungry. It would be great for a baby to only be hungry at home, but, in reality, this sometimes happens while in public. Granted there are mothers who choose to hide in public washrooms or use a blanket to cover the exposed breast for others to not feel uncomfortable. However, most would be surprised at how hard it is to find a private place to nurse or to keep a blanket over a toddler's head.
8 Epidural vs. Natural-birth
Epidural is a procedure of up to 50% of women choose while giving birth. An epidural is an anesthesia that is administered into the lower spinal segments to block out nerve impulses, making it an effective pain relief option. Epidurals can give mom a chance to relax throughout contractions, making the process a bit more tolerable. However, there is a slight risk that the epidural medication could affect the infant in utero or negatively affect the expecting momma. This could be why some women opt to have a natural, unmedicated birth. Giving birth is a personal, unique, and challenging experience for all women. In the end, does it really matter how a woman chose to deal with the pain of labor?
7 Stay At Home Vs. Working Moms
Motherhood is a 24-hour job, no matter how one looks at it. Yet some women need to work outside of the home to better contribute financially to support her family. She can be encumbered by guilt for leaving her child and missing out on memories. Other women are fortunate to be able to stay home with their children (and not have to pay daycare costs) but are challenged with isolation, lower-income, and the shame that their children won't be socialized enough.
As a mother, we do whatever we can to make sure our child is well taken care of and supported, regardless of how different that may look. A mother's decision to stay home or work outside the home is made based on the needs of her family and her family alone.
6 Cloth Vs. Disposable Diapers
Did you know that diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose? That is why cloth diapers can be so appealing to some parents, as cloth diapers help to reduce landfill waste and are much more cost-effective than buying a package of diapers every week. Cloth diapers are considered to be more comfortable and have fewer chemicals in the material, with the downside being you'll need to wash the diaper after each use. However, the majority of parents choose disposable diapers because it better suits their busy lifestyle and can just be thrown away in the trash can.
Understandably, we would prefer to choose a method that is cheaper, better for the environment, and healthier for our child... but sometimes that option isn't always feasible.
5 Sleep Training
A natural instinct when you hear a crying baby is to soothe and comfort. However, this can become difficult when a mother chooses to sleep train her baby. The Ferber Cry-it-Out and Comforting baby to sleep methods are still argued about, both sides shaming the other.
When a newborn cries, their cortisol hormone levels become high until they are comforted. Nonetheless, studies show that between the ages of 4-6 months, the levels no longer spike and is the ideal time to start training a baby to sleep through the night. Although many are accused of neglecting their baby's cries during this process, others are subject of accusation for “spoiling” their child for reacting to their baby's immediate need.
4 Age of A Mother
There is a range of years that a woman is fertile and can become pregnant, right from teenage years to pre-menopausal age. Whether it was planned or unexpected, she can be shamed for being too young or too old to bring a child into this world. There are benefits to having children young; you have more energy to keep up with younger children, will be young when you have grandchildren, and still have many years to build a career even after you've finished having kids. There are also benefits to having children at an older age; better financial security, wisdom to share with your children, and perhaps a better head on your shoulders?
Co-sleeping may be one of the most heated debates when it comes to mom-shaming. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Co-sleeping is the primary cause of SIDS and can expose the child to safety like accidental injury or death; such as suffocation, asphyxia, entrapment, strangulation, and falls. In fact, bed sharing with a parent who is extremely tired, has been smoking, or has been drinking alcohol or taking drugs is even riskier.
Yet the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, as well as other credible sources, have reported that co-sleeping can actually be safer and more beneficial. Co-sleeping reduces the number of times a sleep-deprived mother has to get out of bed, pick up a baby to feed, and then return to a bassinet. Also, bed sharing with a breastfed baby can actually increase the duration a mother can successfully breastfeed for.
2 Leash on Children
Toddlers are unpredictable and busy little people. With everything being so new and exciting, they can be distracted easily and sometimes wander off from mom or dad. Even if you are the world's best mom, it is something that can occur in a blink of an eye. We try to teach our children to listen, to have self-control, to hold our hand and not stray... but it can still happen.
It infuriates some people that a parent would put a leash on their child. However, if are a busy parent with multiple children, your child has special needs and can't effectively communicate or understand dangers, or you are going to a heavily populated environment, this could be why a parent uses a leash. There are pros and cons to using this method for your busy toddler, but, no matter how it looks, the child's safety is always in everyone's best interest.
1 Mom Taking “Me time”
Depending on living arrangements for your children, a mother may find herself childless for a weekend. Or perhaps she was able to secure a babysitter so she can visit her friends. With the importance of mental health and moms taking time for self-care, she should never be shamed for taking time for herself. Motherhood—something which she loves, no doubt—includes birthing a baby, working the mom-job 24 hours a day, being selfless 90% of the time... let her take that break.
It's important that moms do this in moderation, of course. The weekend your kids are at their dad's or grandparents, or maybe it's a once a week thing that you get to socialize with other adults... that's okay. However, if a mom is constantly bringing her kids to babysitters so she can party every night or weekend, perhaps that's when people should start raising an eyebrow.