The 8 Most Offensive, Damaging Things Society Does To New Moms

Ad failed to load

Being a new mom is difficult, not only because you're sleep deprived and attempting to learn and adapt to the drastic life change you've just experienced, but because society isn't very kind to you. Whether you feel pressure to lose the baby weight, quickly return to work or you feel the astounding guilt of not making the decisions everyone thinks you should be making, society and the people who comprise it can be rude, vindictive, and downright dangerous to new mothers.

Society has created a hostile environment where moms are forced to navigate a complicated web of no-win situations: If you have a "natural" birth at home, you put your baby at risk trying to prove you're strong; If you decided to have an epidural in a hospital, you put your baby at risk because you're weak. If you choose to work after having a baby, you're selfish and missing out on your baby's life; If you choose to stay home with your new babe, you're lazy and probably don't do very much of anything during the day. And, of course, while you're handling the never-ending judgement and shaming, you should be losing the damn "baby weight" as quickly as possible.

It's no wonder an estimated 10 to 15% of women will experience postpartum mood disorders in their lifetime, and that is just the number of women who will come forward and seek necessary treatment. Many women's postpartum depression, anxiety and/or psychosis goes undiagnosed, as (you guessed it) women who admit to experiencing PPMDs are heavily stigmatized and shamed.

Ad failed to load

Simply put, society doesn't take care of new mothers. We, as a country, do not support motherhood nor the women who make the choice to enter it, and the collective decision to be more hurtful than helpful (whether it's a conscious one, or not) has hurt new moms and the babies they brought into the world. Here are eight of the absolute worst things society does to new moms, because the first step towards changing negative behavior is admitting it exists. It's time we do better for new mothers, everywhere.

Ad failed to load

Making New Moms Feel Guilty For Working (Or Not Working! Guilt For Everyone!)

GIPHY

Many new moms are made to feel guilty for choosing to return to work after they have a child. Society has turned motherhood into a subtle home arrest sentence, in which we expect women to stay inside and make motherhood their one and only job. On the other (and yet, somehow also the same) hand, many women feel guilty if they don't return to work quickly enough, or at all. And since mandatory paid family leave is not a thing in the United States (like it is in most developed countries) the fear of losing their jobs ends up forcing women to return to work sooner than they would like, and much sooner than recommended.

Calling Stay-At-Home Mothers Lazy

GIPHY

On the other side of the working mom coin, is stay-at-home mom judgement. Society treats SAHMs like lazy shut-ins who spend all day in their pajamas doing a job a monkey could do. Many SAHMs have to field condescending questions like, "What do you do all day?" and passive aggressive statements like, "Man, I wish my only job was taking care of my kid," which can leave a mother feeling unfulfilled and useless, despite the many things she does during the day that she rarely, if ever, receives credit for.

Demanding They Lose The Baby Weight Immediately

GIPHY

The completely unrealistic demand that women should walk out of the hospital in their pre-preggo pants is as ridiculous as it is detrimental. Rarely are postpartum women represented accurately in the media, which has fueled a misconception that the baby weight should just melt off new mothers and, if it doesn't, the new mom is lazy and unmotivated.

Furthermore, instead of marveling at women's bodies and the amazing and miraculous thing it can do (if a woman decides she wants her body to do it), society focuses on how those bodies look. We speak about women's postpartum bodies as "ruined" instead of "marvelous." But that is exactly what those bodies are: incredible vessels for life that did an unbelievably cool and powerful thing. It's heartbreaking that society shames a woman's postpartum body, instead of celebrating it.

Ad failed to load

Constantly Asking Them If They're Trying To "Have It All"

GIPHY

We've all become accustomed to the idea that a woman can either be a mother or a successful businesswoman/employee, but never both and never, ever, anything more. We've told women that they are one-dimensional entities, so whatever it is they want to become or accomplish during their lifetime, it must be one thing and one thing only, so that she can be easily identified and understood by society.

We don't ask men if they're trying to "have it all" when they return to work after becoming fathers. We don't question their ability to be partners, parents, and proven workers, simultaneously. It's time that we see women as complex human beings, who can be multiple things to multiple people. A woman can be more than just a mother, and being more than a mother doesn't make you a bad or failing parent.

Not Giving New Moms Time To Heal After Birth

GIPHY

It is considered "common knowledge" that a woman will be "back to normal" just six weeks after giving birth. The truth is, and according to a recent study by Dr. Julie Wray of Salford University, a woman's body needs an entire year to recover after having a baby. The same study also found that the psychological effects of having a baby can take, and often require, an even longer recovery time.

With the demands society puts on women, coupled with our government's inability to implement mandatory maternity leave, a new mom is simply refused the necessary time to heal. So, forget about having the individualized freedom to experience that healing on a personal, unique timeline. Pssh. Don't be insane.

Desexualizing Mothers

GIPHY

If anything highlights the hypocrisy of society, it is the desexualization of mothers. As soon as a woman becomes a mother, she is suppose to shed her sexuality and present herself in a so-called "appropriate" manner, because, hey, she's someone's mom now. At the same time, society demands that every woman, mother or not, appear desirable and sexual to members of the opposite sex.

This hypocritical juxtaposition puts women in a mind-numbingly frustrating paradox, where — in order to adhere to society's image demands — she is shamed for being "too sexy" or "too vain" or "too [insert anything a woman does to express herself and her sexuality]."

Ad failed to load

Stigmatizing Single Mothers

GIPHY

Regardless of the changing family paradigm in the United States, society continues to judge women who don't fit the predetermined, traditional mold. According to Al Jazeera and the Pew Research Center, "fewer than half (46 percent) of children in the United States live in a home with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage, and 41 percent of children are born outside marriage."

Still, single mothers — and particularly single mothers of color — experience an overload of stigma and judgement. We rarely see positive representations of single mothers in the media, and former Sen. Rick Santorum (a presidential candidate, mind you) claimed single mothers are “breeding more criminals” and are ruining the country. Many make the fallacious (and disgustingly offensive) assumption that single mothers choose to have children because they know they'll be financially supported by the government. The list of continued stigma, unfortunately, goes on and on.

The United States is a society that openly celebrates and supports married, predominantly heterosexual couples and their families, while shaming families who are not. There are over 7.3 million families headed and successfully ran by single mothers. It's time our view of single motherhood changes.

Convincing Mothers They Should Sacrifice Everything For Their Family

GIPHY

Recently, Jada Pinkett Smith answered the question, "How hard is it being a wife and a mother?" She answered, saying that it is "very challenging," and then went on to point out the lie society has been telling mothers since, well, ever.

And I think we've been taught that, taking care of yourself is a problem. And I'll tell you something about being a mother, and some of the messaging that we get in this country about being a mother: that you have to completely sacrifice everything. That you have to completely sacrifice every. Single. Thing.

Jada hit the nail on the head, and highlighted a lie that many women buy into and fall victim to. We're taught that we need to give up everything, sacrifice our happiness, our health, and our peace of mind, for our children and our families. And if we don't, we are terrible mothers. But the truth is, women are not bad mothers for doing what makes them happy. Actually, doing what makes you happy will make your family members happy, too. So hopefully, whether or not the pervasive messages in society uphold this thinking, we can all take a page from Jada Pinkett Smith's book: You have a right to be happy.

Images: Isla Murray/Romper; Giphy(8)

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

13 Unique (& Totally Not Mainstream) Mother's Day Gifts For The Hipster Mom

Hipsters thrive on being outside the norm and not really digging anything considered "mainstream." Whether it's in their fashion, what music they listen to, the books they read, or how they enjoy beverages, there's just something that makes them dist…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's How To Introduce Your Pet To Your Baby & Make Everything As Calm As Possible

Our home, which we lovingly refer to as “the funny farm,” is filled with four-legged family members. We have two crazy beagles and two cat jerks, and boy are they loved and spoiled. (As they should be.) But we are now finally having a baby of our own…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's The Right Birth Method For You, According To Your Zodiac Sign

If you're pregnant, you've probably given childbirth some serious thought. Some moms-to-be prepare a meticulous birth plan, while others are comfortable just going with the flow. And me? Well, I made a plan... but that plan was useless when faced wit…
By Steph Montgomery

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}