Navigating others’ judgements when you are a mum

14 Jun

At Nurturing Mums, we aim to create a non-judgemental space for new mums to chat, learn and relax.  That being said, it often does feel like other mums are judging you and in turn, you end up judging yourself.  

From the moment you announce your pregnancy, it seems that all opinions count.  Even if you didn’t ask for them.  When I was pregnant with my first, a bus driver told me that I was definitely carrying a boy.  She wouldn’t accept that I already knew it was a girl (and did turn out to be a girl), she had her opinion about my pregnancy, and that was that.  Once the baby is born, people don’t respect your boundaries more, they seem to do it less and less as the years are added to your child’s age.

Mothers can’t win.  It’s as simple as that.  From the moment you conceive that baby, you will be judged by friends, family, strangers, society and mostly yourself.  It is a struggle to navigate through all of these choices, and how they will affect you as a mum.  GUILT plays a huge role and is there to nag at you when you make a decision, to keep you on your toes just when you think things are going smoothly.

Here is a useful guide to some of the issues that motherhood brings up and how to navigate them:

1)      PREGNANCY

In pregnancy, you are told what to eat; forget about your cravings, it isn’t up to you!  Your body is judged as if on display, people are watching to see (and often comment) if you gain too much or too little weight.  How quickly you lose the weight post-pregnancy is scrutinized and analysed.  You can’t drink alcohol in any quantity or you will be given death stares, and complete strangers come up and touch your belly making you feel like it’s not about YOU anymore.

pregnancy can and can'ts

2)      HAVING A NATURAL BIRTH

The pregnancy police have a natural counterpart: the birthing police.  They discourage epidurals, they frown upon the labour ward, emergency C-sections are your fault, aren’t they? I mean, why you wouldn’t want to get through your labour in the easiest way possible is beyond me; however the current thinking is that if you do it naturally you are a saint, and if you don’t, you’re a failure.

3)      BREASTFEEDING

This is one hugely emotive topic.  Read any post on breastfeeding and the comments will be pages long.  The ‘pro camp’ thinks nothing else will do, no matter what, and the ‘opposition’ feel that you have to do what works for you.  All of this rhetoric leads to feelings of inadequacy if you can’t or don’t want to, and superiority if you are one of the mums who has a baby who latches on and stays.

breastfeeding can or can't

4)      WANTING SUPPORT VS. DOING IT ON YOUR OWN

Your partner goes back to work after two weeks (if you are lucky) and you are left holding the baby, literally.  Your hormones are all over the place, you feel like you need help but certainly don’t want your in-laws there breathing down your neck and telling you how to raise your baby.  You think you are a super-mum with everything figured out, but then why are you so tearful? When your partner gets home, do you pass over the baby?  Many mums aren’t able to give up the control, even when they need the help.

5)      GOING BACK TO WORK

Stay at home with your baby or go back to work? Ask for flexible hours and get paid for 3 days, whilst working 4 or 5? Try something new and go it on your own? Contribute to your family income or be the main caregiver? Full time nursery gets a bad rap, so what’s a working parent to do? If they want to have it all, they are criticized for being selfish.  If they are content with giving up their career, they are unambitious.  What if you find it boring to be at home all day with a baby?  Such tough choices, so many considerations, and the options are so different for everyone.  That doesn’t stop others from making you question your choice(s) and constantly change them.

6)      PARENTING STYLE

Permissive or Authoritative? Naughty step or never saying no?  So many books to read, so many experts with the ‘right’ way, what is the best way to bring up your child?  Parenting styles are the new buzzword and how you choose to do things is often externally (and internally) judged by others who think they could raise your child for you!

parenting styles

This is quite a list.  It’s making me tired reading it over!  Us poor mums, what we have to endure and get through.  Keep in mind you are dealing with all of this uncertainty whilst raising a baby! And this is only the beginning…so what is a mum to do with all of this?

Acceptance is the key.  You are never going to do it all right.  You are never going to be the perfect mum.  You are going to have good days and bad days.  If you have ever given any of the above a thought, a second thought, a third thought…you are a good mum.  Worrying about whether you are doing right by your children is one indication that you are self-aware and know that your choices impact the little people in your life.  Our advice: don’t beat yourself up when things go wrong, get support and advice, make new friends and have fun being a mum!

For all things related to pregnancy, babies and toddlers have a look through the amazing What to Expect UK site, which is now focussed on info for us UK mums.    

 

 

 

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One Response to “Navigating others’ judgements when you are a mum”

  1. Dawn Frazier June 14, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    This is a great post. When I first had my son, I felt like a bad mother many times. First I had an emergency C-section, so I had many comments about how I was ‘too posh to push’ amongst others, although I fail to see what’s posh about a C-section! Then I had comments when I couldn’t get on with breastfeeding. I also had many well meaning people trying to tell me that my son should be potty trained, just because their children of the same age already were. The list is endless!

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