Overcoming The “Mom Guilt”
Being a mom isn’t easy. Mothers are constantly scrutinized for almost every parenting decision they make, from small choices to big ones. As if new parenthood isn’t already exhausting enough on its own, mothers are often left with feelings of guilt and confusion as they come under the critical eye of friends, family, doctors, and the public. These feelings of guilt and inadequacy can be emotionally draining. If you’re a new mom, it’s time to rid yourself of the notion that you’re anything less than perfect for your little one.
Even though people are entitled to their opinions, and it’s important to ask for help and advice, mothers shouldn’t be criticized for their parenting decisions. From small choices, like how to dress their baby, to bigger choices, such as how to feed their baby, mothers shouldn’t have to fear being judged by people who have no business telling them what’s right and wrong for a child that isn’t theirs.
After all, who knows your baby better than the amazing, selfless woman who carried that little baby for nine long months in her womb? Who better to make decisions for the child than the mother who nourished her baby, sacrificed for her baby, and shared her own body with her baby throughout the long months of pregnancy? Nobody knows your child better than you do.
Here are 7 things mothers should never feel guilty about:
1. How her baby is fed
Breastmilk versus formula. Prepackaged baby food versus baby led weaning. Buying baby food versus cooking your own at home.
The mommy wars over how to best feed a baby are endless. No matter how you choose to feed your little one, what’s important is that she’s fed and nourished. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether you breastfeed or give your baby formula. It doesn’t matter if you nurse on demand, or pump and have other caregivers feed your baby a bottle. It doesn’t matter if you set a time limit on how long you’ll breastfeed, or if you plan to let your baby wean on their own time. It’s okay if you choose to buy jarred baby food instead of making your own at home. It’s also okay if you choose to skip pureed baby foods, and follow the principles of baby-led weaning when it comes to starting solids. In the end, what matters most is that your baby is thriving and growing, being nourished by the feeding methods you choose!
2. How her baby is dressed
Mothers should never have to defend how they dress their children. Whether she dresses her daughter in all pink, frills, lace, and bows, or chooses t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers, a mother can dress her baby girl however she wants. If a mom wants to dress her little boy in traditional “boy” patterns, like dinosaurs, trucks, and boats, that’s okay. If she wants to dress her son in neutral hues of gray, white, black, and pastels, that’s also okay. If a mother dresses her baby in traditional, light-colored clothing, or chooses edgy patterns and trendy styles, she should be able to dress her child without judgment.
3. What her baby is named
Baby names are often a point of contention among family and friends, when there is no reason it should be. People often “claim” baby names before they’re even pregnant, and are offended whenever anyone else chooses the same name for their baby. Others are angered if a family name isn’t used. People judge how a baby’s name is spelled, how common or unique it is, or whether they dislike someone with the same name. The only people that have a say in their baby’s name are the parents, and new parents shouldn’t feel worried about sharing their baby’s name before the birth for fear of criticism. Every baby is unique, and every name should be celebrated.
4. What kind of birth/birth plan she had
Mothers are often judged about how they give birth. If they had a C-section, it can be considered the “easy way out.” If they had a vaginal birth with an epidural, it can be considered “unnatural.” If they had a home birth, it can be considered unnecessarily dangerous for the baby, but if they had a hospital birth, it can be considered to have too many interventions. In the end, it doesn’t matter how you gave birth. It can even be difficult to choose who is in the room during a mother’s labor and delivery, because pushy family members or friends think they deserve a spot for the show. Women should be allowed to birth in the manner that works for them. All that matters is that you have a thriving, healthy baby in the end and receive the best care possible for your newborn and yourself!
5. How close together or far apart her children are
Once you have one child, everyone will have an opinion about when you should have more children. If you choose to have one child, people will judge you for having an only child and not providing that child with siblings. If you choose to have a big family, you’ll often be judged for being irresponsible and not giving each child enough love and attention. If you get pregnant too soon after having a baby, you’ll be judged for being irresponsible and endangering your next baby. If you wait too long, people will judge you for not having kids close together. If you have all girls or all boys, people will keep asking when you’ll “try” for the opposite gender. At the end of the day, the only people who should have a say in when (if ever) to have more children are the parents and the doctors who advise them! Whether you have a big family or a small family, have all boys or all girls, what matters is that each of your children is cherished, loved, and cared for.
6. When her baby meets certain milestones
People will always have opinions about when babies should meet certain milestones. If your baby crawls too early, people say it’s bad for their development. If your baby doesn’t crawl at all and instead goes right to walking, people say it’s also not good for their development. When your baby rolls over, crawls, walks, talks, or starts solid food, is also commonly an area of criticism. Mothers should learn to rely on their own instincts and what the pediatrician tells her is best for her child, and forget what others say!
7. How much she holds her baby
People will often judge how much a mother holds her baby. If you hold your baby too much, or attend to your baby at every sound and cry, people will say you’re “spoiling” your baby. In reality, you can’t spoil a newborn baby! Babies are used to being close to their mothers, and it’s understandable that babies would enjoy being held and cuddled, especially in the first months of life! Never feel guilty for how much you hold your baby - this is just one of the many ways you care for your little one.
If you’re a new mother, never feel guilty for your parenting decisions. How you feel is best to care for your little one, is the right way for you. Acknowledge people’s opinions, but don’t take their judgments to heart. The person who knows your baby best is you.
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.