Some of you may know me and some of you do not. My name is April DelaFuente and I am a mom blogger and photographer. Lover of Chipotle, pico de gallo, sweet tea, tennis, and DIY projects. My handsome bearded husband Uli and I have been together for 7 1/2 years but will be married 5 years this July. We have a loving, active, sweet 8 month old son named Eliseo aka chunky monkey, little ball of butter, baby pork chop, and chubby chops.
Since it’s Mother’s Day, I think it would be appropriate to write about mom-shaming.
What is mom-shaming?
Mom-Shaming: criticizing a mother for her parenting choices because they differ from theirs.
Natural Birth vs. Scheduled C-Section
Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding
Breastfeeding After Certain Age
Working Mom vs. Stay at Home Mom
Cry it Out Method vs. Picking Baby Up Right Away
Purees vs. Baby Led Weaning
Sleeping in Crib vs. Co-Sleeping
Homeschooling vs. Public Schooling
Too Strict Parenting vs. Too Lenient Parenting
This list goes on..
It is always the mother who is shamed for these parenting choices. I never hear about dad shaming. I have have been mom-shamed multiple times. I have been criticized for nursing my son to sleep (“He’s never going to be able to fall asleep on his own, just give him a pacifier.”), being a stay at home mother (“So what do you do all day? Do you just sleep?”), and starting solids at 6 months instead at 4 months (“Poor baby, I bet he’s starving.”). Each of those times, I just brushed it off. Just recently, I was criticized for not letting Eliseo cry it out (he’s currently going through his 8 month sleep regression). This was my breaking point. I was told that I was wrong for picking him up every time he cried. I was setting him up for bad habits and he would be this little spoiled boy who will never leave my bed. I even apologized for not believing in the cry it out method. Don’t get me wrong, if the cry it out method works for you, that’s great! However, for our family, it does not. Here is one of the many reasons why I don’t do the cry it out method. Dayna Mager shared a story about orphaned babies in Uganda who did not cry. You can read the story here. Again, this is why it doesn’t work in our family however, if it works for you.. you are doing what is best for your family.
“Always. At 2:00am when pitiful desperate squeals come through a baby monitor, I will come to her. Her first hurt, her first heartbreak, we will come to her. We will be there to hold her, to let her feel, to make decisions on her own, and we will be there. We will show her through our tears and frustrations at times, that it is okay to cry, and it’s ok to feel. That we will always be a safe place, and we will always come to her.” – Dayna Mager
As a new mother, I am always questioning myself if I am doing the right thing for my son. My husband always reminds and praises me that I am. He always tells me, “Good job mama! You’re super mom! Eli has the most amazing mother! He is so lucky to have you!” I truly thank him for that because my self confidence level is at 90%-95% majority of the time. After I was mom-shamed in a public place with people around us, I wanted to cry. I felt humiliated, ashamed, and like a terrible mother. My self confidence just sunk. I felt like the Titanic (cue My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion). It took me a few hours to digest the conversation. I started wondering if there were other mama’s who have experienced mom-shaming so I started asking around. Some were luckily enough to not experience it. Some have been shamed by their mothers/fathers, mother-in-laws, siblings, and complete strangers. I have some mama’s who were kind enough to share their mom-shaming experiences:
“When I had Jacob he was 28 weeks and weighed 1lb 4oz so he couldn’t be held for a while much less breastfed but I pumped milk for him 24/7. At 6 months I stopped producing due to the stress of him not gaining weight as fast as everyone hoped so i relied 100% on donor milk but sadly felt like I had to keep it a secret. Whenever I would tell anyone I used donor milk they would make me feel like I was putting my baby at risk so after a while I just lied about it to anyone who asked.” -Alma B.
“When Allizae was a couple of days old, her dad’s family ganged up on me because I was bottle feeding her and not breastfeeding.. I felt cornered. Also, my friend recently told me something because I let Allizae stay up until 10:00, like my parents used to let me. She always has something to say about my parenting.” – Amanda A.
“I absolutely have been mom-shamed while I was nursing both of my boys, William 2 years old and Orion 9 months old. When I was going to UTEP, no matter what, my main goal was to give my son my nourishment. Well, When the question, “Are you going to breastfeed?” came up (because everyone thinks the manner in which you feed your child is their business) they would almost feel offended when I would tell them Baby Willie was going to drink milk that I produced for him. I always got “that’s so gross”, “your baby is going to be attached to you 24/7″, it’s going to be so hard”, or my favorite, “he’s never going to let you sleep”. When my son was finally born, I had everyone leave the room each time he wanted to nurse and we were naturals. Now fast forward 2 years later where I was about to have my son Orion. I was called a hippie because those around me knew my new little baby was going to drink my milk like his big brother. Only this time after he was born, I didn’t feel the need to cover up. The way I saw it was if my son is hungry, he’s going to eat! Orion has always been a chunkers and a lover of food so he was literally always attached to me. This was hard because Willie, being 2 years old required a lot of attention. When we would have help over and I was nursing Orion, it was hard to run away form the comments, “Oh my god, neither one of them leave you alone”, “if you bottle fed Orion, you’d be so relieved”, or “just give him formula”. The level of frustration I had was unbearable. From being in pain from both c-sections, nursing, and not having a strong support system. I gave in. My Orion was given formula. I am thankful to have been able to nurse both of my boys for 6 weeks each. Although, I would have loved to gone for longer, it was not in our agenda. Props to all the nursing momma’s and strong willed mommies!” -Robertta D.
“My goal from day one was to breastfeed Landon until age 1. I am learning that goal and the amount of co-workers, friends, and family that continue to ask “so are you stopping”, “are you excited to be done” is unbelievable. I’ve never found myself on the other side of the table asking “oh why did you stop breastfeeding at only 3 months?”. We as a society are taking the right steps to normalize breastfeeding but step one has to start with moms with not shaming each other for whether they want to breastfeed longer or shorter periods, or whether they chose to even go that route. The other times I have felt shaming is for being a working mom. People have made the assumption that maybe I don’t spend enough time with Landon. It’s definitely been a juggling act with balancing work, being a wife, and sacrificing time I used to dedicate to myself; getting my nails done, going out to happy hour, going out for late dinner with friends. I’ve sacrificed some of those things to spend the time with Landon. I love my son more than anything but I also love that my career makes me happy and give me a mental fulfillment.” -Marilyn Y.
“I think mom-shaming is tough when it comes from your own mother. She tells me I am too hard on my son all the time (i.e. Because he was using his clothes as a napkin after being told not to multiple times, I showed him how to do his own laundry.) My mom mostly tries to undermine my parenting at times.” – Amanda A.
“I was criticized for bringing out my day old newborn when I needed to run an errand. A stranger came up to me and said that if I loved my baby then I needed to cover her up with a blanket. I was not going to cover her up in a blanket because it was the middle of July and 106 degrees outside.” -CL
“I remember being a young mother giving birth at the age of 18 almost turning 19. Already in the older generation eyes, that is way to young to have a baby and my parents must have not raised me right. Well, I remember breastfeeding my first daughter and when my mom walked in with her sister, she gave me this uncanny look. She said, “People are going to see you. That’s gross. Give the baby formula, that is the number one milk a baby should be drinking.” I felt dirty and was not aware of the health benefits breastmilk had so I gave my daughter formula. As I got older and was pregnant with my second daughter, I did my research on the benefits of formula AND breastfeeding. Turns out breastmilk is recommended before anything else. My daughter was 2 months shy of 4 years old when I decided to stop breastfeeding. During that period, many people gave me crap about why I was breastfeeding that long and how I should have stopped between 6 months -1 year. My daughter’s own pediatrician even told me to stop breastfeeding her at 6 months because there were no health benefits. That was BS because breastmilk has tons of health benefits after 6 months.I remember my daughter being ill one time and the only thing she had was breastmilk. Her doctor was surprised that she was not dehydrated because she was not eating food or drinking water. I told her because my breastmilk has been keeping her hydrated this entire time. I proved my doctor wrong. My point being is that if I chose to breastfed my child for almost 4 years or not, she is MY child. What I decide for my children is MY business and no one else’s. You raise your child how you want to raise them and I will raise MY children how I want to raise them. As long as MY children know they’re loved and taken care of then that is all that matters to me.” -Allison O.
“Being a working mom means that although you are always disappointing someone, you learn that where the ideal is lacking, grace abounds. Oh how sweet that grace is while you learn to juggle raising a soul and exceeding expectations at work. Society can be cruel in the snarky comments made at a working mom, but for the sake of your child, you learn to smile and be the bigger person.” -Lorielle C.
Each of these mama’s were criticized because their parenting views differed from others! WHY? Our job is to make sure our children are fed, kept clean, feel loved and raise them to be amazing human beings. We are only doing what works for our family. If that means one mama wants to formula feed, use baby led weaning, and follow the cry it out method, while another mama wants to breastfeed, use jarred baby food, and follow attachment parenting practices.. LET THEM BE! My husband and I believe in attachment parenting, baby led weaning, screen time in moderation, and co-sleeping to a certain extent. You may not agree with this but PARENTING DOES NOT COME WITH A MANUAL! There will be some people who are going to say, “You could have just ignored what that person said. You don’t owe them an explanation. Just tell them what they want to hear so they will leave you alone.” That’s the problem. We shouldn’t have been criticized in the first place. At the end of the day, advice is nice when we ask for it, but “know it all” comments are unnecessary and rude. Instead of criticizing one another, how about, “I know it’s hard right now but you’re doing great mama! Keep up the good work!”