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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