The subtleties of Mom shaming

Written by Lisa

Dr Joe Dispenza recently posted a video on Instagram stating that a child’s emotional state begins in the womb, that ‘how the woman perceives her environment, will shape and mould her child to face the same environment the mother is perceiving.’ 

While there may be some merit to this statement, without further context it appears to place the full responsibility of the emotional wellbeing of the parents unborn child solely at the door of the pregnant woman, without considering the complexities of people’s lives and how difficult the pregnancy journey can be for many women.

There are two things with this statement I want to address;

How the woman ‘perceives’ her environment –  There are many factors that might affect how a woman experiences her pregnancy, and many outside of her control;

  1. Her socioeconomic status
  2. Any racial discriminations she might be facing
  3. Whether she’s living with domestic abuse
  4. Whether she’s living below the poverty line and may have little to no access to outside support
  5. She might be grieving at the time of pregnancy or may have lost her previous pregnancy
  6. Her general or mental health might be affected at the time
  7. Or that she herself is finding just being pregnant challenging

Perhaps we can see how this message could be quite damaging to some women, whose already difficult circumstances could be easily made worse, by them being made feel they are going to harm their unborn baby if they are not perceiving their environment to be a positive one.

How the woman perceives her ‘environment’ – Really important. Who are the people in her environment? And how are they supporting her as she goes through one of the biggest, transformative and even challenging times she’ll ever go through? Are they doing everything they can to ensure her environment is one of calm, love and support?

Professor Anthony McCarthy, the Consultant Psychiatrist at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin states the need to ‘absolutely discount the myth that pregnancy is somehow a solely positive experience and that all women simply bloom’, that it ‘is a very challenging and physically exhausting time for a lot of women.’

It is not about asking the pregnant women to do more, but asking how we as a society or individually can do more to support our pregnant women.

And so, rather than me just pointing out what I feel is unhelpful with this current message, I feel it’s only fair I offer some of my own thoughts to be considered. 

While we understand it may be important for an unborn child not to be flooded with cortisol during it’s 40 weeks of gestation. It is also important that we don’t simply only ask the pregnant woman to send positive priming signals to her unborn child by perceiving her environment to be one of love and kindness, but that we widen the focus of the lens here and speak to the people who are actually in her environment. That we ask both on an individual and societal basis, how can we participate in setting up a loving environment for our pregnant person to flourish in? So that they can then do their very best to get through this immense time while managing their emotional and mental health from a place of full support.

As a collective we are going through huge change and healing right now and no doubt we all agree it’s important now more than ever take this opportunity to change any unhelpful narratives or biases where we can.

And in this instance, steering away from any hint of potential immediate or future mother blaming or shaming.

Lisa x


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This person is flying it…. That person’s baby sleeps like a dream…. That girl over there has this nailed…..

Why is that?

I’ve learnt about motherhood from a sociological perspective but now I’m living it and holy shit balls. Learning about something and living it – two very different things. I obviously know that. But now I knoooow that.

Half the time I feel like what I suspect Alice must have felt like when she fell down that rabbit hole. However, if you follow that story through, she had a pretty wild adventure. And I relate to that too.

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Dr. Sophie Brock, a sociologist in Motherhood Studies says “We have been conditioned to internalise the patriarchal, social and cultural beliefs around what it means to be a good mother.” The Perfect Mother Myth.

These beliefs are deeply, deeply ingrained in our society and are basically unhelpful rules we as mothers must adhere to in order to be considered, and consider ourselves, to be good mothers. This is big stuff.

Further to that she states “comparison can be a way to berate ourselves into being a better mother.” Ah. Clever.

‘It’s not necessarily the comparing thought that’s the issue, but rather the feeling of guilt and shame that follows’. – right. And no better way to ensure compliance. Guilt and shame are long used forms of social control.

Motherhood – it’s an extremely loud arena. And as new mum, who like us all is learning daily on the bounce, it has been harder to drown out the noise than I ever expected.

Okay, so what can we do about this comparison then?

First, we must recognise that we cannot resist what we cannot see.

So, grab a pen and paper and write down:

1. What do you currently believe you should be doing in order to consider yourself a good enough mum.
2. Challenge any thoughts that are creating shame or any feelings of not good enoughness. Where do those thoughts or images come from?
3. Could you then create your own image of what a happy, content and good enough mother is?

My intention for 2022 is rebuild what my own beliefs are around all this.

I don’t think it’ll happen overnight but what I wish for me as a new mum, and all the mums out there, is to mother my little love like no-ones watching.

Lisa xx

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