Being a new mom can be hard for so many reasons, but it shouldn’t be made harder by other moms. I think most of the time it happens without the person who's making things harder even realizing they're doing so, but experienced moms often make new moms feel bad for a myriad of things, just by virtue of the fact that hindsight is 20/20. Pretty much all parents can look back on our early days of parenting, and things seem so clear: “This choice totally worked for me, but this was a big mistake ... Oh gosh, you’re doing that!?” Before you’re even aware of what you’re doing, you’re talking to that new mom just a little bit condescendingly about something that they are going through. And suddenly, that new mom is feeling pretty crappy about it, when all she was hoping for was some support (or maybe wasn't asking you for anything at all. Just sayin'.)
I know I’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of shaming myself. I remember telling a more experienced mom about a potential symptom of PPD, and she dismissed it, saying that she had done that too. The implication was that I wasn’t really suffering from PPD. Newsflash! I was, in fact, suffering from PPD, so joke's on her. Actually, joke's on no one because that mess is not funny.
Here are 13 other ways experienced moms can end up shaming new moms, maybe without even noticing:
“Oh, I Wish I Had Just One Baby!”
We get it. Two is harder than one. That doesn’t make your first one any easier, though. All this does is say to a new mom, "See how OK I look right now? I have two kids. You only have one. Do you know what that means, that I appear totally OK with two, and you feel overwhelmed and tired and scared with just one? You're weak and probably not a very good mom."
“Just Wait Until They’re Crawling!”
Yes, once they’re mobile things get a little more hairy. Can you just acknowledge that it was hard for you too, when your first kid was two months old? You know, as an alternative to making a new mom feel crushed with dread about the fact that things are only going to get harder from where she is now?
“Enjoy Every Moment — They Grow Up So Fast!”
So are you saying that if I don’t enjoy every moment, I’m a crappy mom?
“You’re Sleep Training? I Just Couldn’t Do That To My Baby.”
Clearly, you’re the better parent then.
“We Didn’t Even Introduce A Pacifier To Our Little Guy, So We Wouldn’t Have To Deal With This Type Of Problem.”
Yet another piece of input I didn’t know I needed.
“My Baby Was Sleeping Through The Night At Six Weeks.”
Awesome. Thanks for sharing.
“I Never Slept When The Baby Slept! I Just Had Too Much To Do.”
Great. So now I’m a slob and a slacker? Shut up, I'm trying to sleep, and now also cry.
“I Had Problems Breastfeeding Too, But I Saw A Lactation Consultant And Now I Have No Problems.”
So also, I am a crap mom if 1) I don’t see a lactation consultant, or 2) I do see one and I still have problems breastfeeding. Thanks for making this so much easier!
“I Just Had So Much Breastmilk, I Didn’t Know What To Do With It All.”
Any new mom struggling with breastmilk production is likely feeling pretty awful right about now.
“You’re Introducing Formula? Why?”
Putting a new mother on the defensive is unfair and unnecessary. Questioning how a mother feeds her baby at all is largely unnecessary.
“I Thought You Weren’t Supposed To Introduce [Insert Any Food Here] This Early?”
This is the perfect way to make a new mom doubt herself.
“I Loved Every Single Minute Of The Newborn (Or Any Other) Stage!”
Yet again, this has the potential to make a new mom feel incredibly guilty for not loving that stage. Guess what? It’s OK to not love every minute of motherhood. It’s pretty normal, actually.
“You’re Feeling Tired? Ha Ha! Get Used To It.”
This is yet another way to invalidate a new mom’s experiences, and it’s pointless. You’re tired, I’m tired, parents are always f*cking tired. We get it.
Look, I get that maybe some of this sounds like a new mom might be a little overly sensitive to read these implications into these statements, but new parenthood is a super sensitive time. That's literally why we're having these conversations. And while we're at it, telling a new mom that feeling shamed by these comments is just "oversensitive?" Yeah, that's pretty hurtful too. It’s a sad state of affairs, but the Mommy Wars are real, and shaming new moms for their choices or their experiences is only adding fuel to the fire. Everyone has their own stuff to deal with, and most often, none of us is a better or worse parent for it. If we can share our experiences in a non-judgmental way, everyone will be happier.