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Childrearing

Research Confirms New Moms Are Being Judged Even More These Days

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(iStock / DGLimages)

If you have ever thought that you were judged more harshly as a new mom than generations before you, you’re not wrong. According to a new study, the newest generation of mothers are judged more than their mothers or grandmothers.

The study, published in the journal Families, Relationships and Societies surveyed new/expectant mothers and their mothers. Much of this particular study focuses on the aspect of infant feeding especially. At this point, we are all too familiar with the pressures new moms face when it comes to feeding and the shaming that can come from making the decision that some perceive as wrong.

In a video about the findings, researcher Aimee Grant explained “Whilst the grandmothers said that feeding was sometimes physically problematic, they largely were just left to get on with it, and when they were pregnant, nobody really interfered too much in what they did. These days, the mothers said it was very different. They were often having inputs from friends and family and sometimes even strangers into what they were doing.”

It can’t come as a surprise that new moms are feeling more judged. When you can find just about anything on the internet and pregnancy guidelines are pretty well known, it is far easier for people around you to insert their own unsolicited opinions, no matter how well meaning. They feel comfortable telling you what to eat, how to exercise, how to dress, without respecting your own autonomy as a pregnant person. One participant in the study shared that during her pregnancy she went to a cafe and ordered a cup of tea, but was denied the beverage when the server noticed her baby bump. It is presumably because the intake of caffeine while pregnant has been discussed at length. The server should have respected the mother’s right to body autonomy instead of refusing service.

Another culprit in the growing judgement? Social media. We have seen, time and time again, mothers who are openly shamed on the internet because of their parenting choices. Strangers are emboldened by the anonymity of the internet and have no problem telling mothers how they should be mothering, even though they know nothing about the individual’s circumstances. It is easy to make a comment on a photo you see passing on some well meaning advice, but if you’re not directly involved it is best to not comment. It is easy to judge another mother from afar, but much harder to walk a day in her shoes.

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