MOM-SHAMING- a New Terminology

Mom-shaming.  A new form of bullying targeting mothers. Usually directed at their parenting skills or technique and may go as far as body shaming. Apparently now, others are even mom-shaming expectant mothers. Pregnancy is stressful and in some cases can be life-threatening. To mom-shame, an expectant mother for her past transgressions is, for me, a BIG NO NO. If you can't be happy for her then don't say anything or post anything or do anything to hurt an expectant mom. Just keep mum. Berating an expectant mother and lashing out at her won't do you any justice. Keep in mind you are harming her baby as well.

It used to just be your parents or your in-laws that criticized your parenting technique now you have the whole world on your back. I would think that the belief- " there is no perfect parent"- would keep us from judging others but, more often than not, there are those who may feel they know it all and will make a comment regarding your parenting skills making you feel like you're the worst parent in the world. I know, there is always a nice way to say things but, sometimes these people can hit a nerve. Shouldn't the "I know what's best for my child" concept apply? A suggestion isn't bad, giving advice isn't bad also. It's the obnoxious remarks that follow the advice which I'm pointing at.  I would guess that since all parents are having a tough time raising their kids that we would all serve as each others' support group. Everyone needs a little encouragement...I myself, a very tired mama is willing to accept any support I can get. I know now, that I can't do it all.

The Filipino moms, generally, are supporters. My neighbor who has 3 kids of her own, gave me her teething recipe so my kid wouldn't have a difficult time teething. My other neighbor and I had a giggle when we both confided to each other that we only use disposable diapers for convenience. Others tend to give unsolicited advice which actually is pretty useful. No harm in that. But of course, I've had my fair share of mom-shaming so, I'd like to discuss 6 topics that are usually the source of mom-shaming and can make any mom feel bad about themselves.
Image credit: Pixabay

On the top of my list...breastfeeding. Some mothers can, some mothers cannot. I'm one of those mothers who couldn't. I carried my son to term, and not once did I spill colostrum nearing the end of my pregnancy.  Unfortunately for me, the mandate of all hospitals in the Philippines is that all newborns be breastfed- this is to provide the baby the necessary immunoglobulins to ward off infections. When I did not lactate, a nurse came in to check on my breasts and declared in a loud voice " your breasts are different, they're wrong". I told her I was sorry and that if it was possible that she could help me. She then looked a bit apologetic (I guess the worry in my voice was apparent) and said that the hospital had a milk bank of donated breast milk and would be happy to provide for my newborn. When I finally saw my OB during her rounds, she prescribed me a lactating pill and told me to keep trying to breastfeed. She was very encouraging, saying I can supplement with baby formula if ever I do not lactate enough for my baby's needs. Now comes the male pediatrician. He told me it was impossible that I couldn't lactate, that I wasn't trying hard enough, and even made a rude comment that "there is no need to save my breasts". I actually wanted to answer back and tell him " you don't know a thing, you aren't a woman" but, I knew that would just make matters worse. So I bit my tongue and made a lopsided smile making it look like I took his remark as a joke.  To my dismay, I had to bottle-feed my newborn because I did not lactate at all. So now when I see other moms bottle feeding their newborns, I do not judge because I know better.

Secondly, what you feed your kid is entirely up to you. I believe in the concept that you know what's best for your child. While parents in the US/UK/Canada are worried about whether their children's food is gluten-free, organic, peanut, maize, and sugar-free...Filipino moms, generally most, are less discerning. This stems from the fact that 70% of the population is considered to be poor. Here, it doesn't matter much if the food is gluten-free; what matters is if there IS food. So if parents can provide their child with food constantly, then the kind or type of food is a non-issue. Thank the lucky stars that you aren't one of those parents who have to scavenge and look through trash bins for leftover food. That's a reality for some here in the Philippines.

Working mom vs the stay at home mom. Nanny services in the Philippines are very affordable. Minimum salary ranges from 2000-3000php/month (40-60 USD). And since both parents have to work to provide for their family, usually the children are being watched over by their nanny (Yaya in Filipino). I'm a stay at home mom. I' m actually very reluctant to leave my child with a nanny since I've heard the horror stories of abuse and even kidnapping done by nannies. But I do know that it is hard to not work and earn money. Full-time working mothers have been heavily scrutinized for time away from their kids. Stay-at-home moms are told to get a life. Some Filipino mothers have the luxury of living near their parents so, they usually leave their children under the watchful eye of the grandparents while they work. When they (the moms) come home from work, they even have a home-cooked meal (prepared by their parents) waiting for them so there is no need for them to cook. These are the mothers I envy the most. They don't have to spend on nanny services nor do they have to put a lot of effort in cooking or laundry since they have their own mothers who are willing to do the work for them. But, unfortunately for the rest of us, we aren't in an ideal situation like that. Working or staying at shouldn't need to defend yourself. Every mother has her reasons. Just as the saying goes, you are damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

Kids get sick. And usually, everyone says that it's because of the parent's neglect. That hurts. As much as I wish for my son's immortality, I know that I'm not being realistic.Everyone gets sick, most especially kids because their immune system has not yet matured.  I felt really bad and worried when my then 1-year-old son ran a high fever and was vomiting in the wee hours of the morning. When I brought him to see the pediatrician first thing in the morning, his fever was gone and was not vomiting as much, but I was still lectured by the pediatrician for neglect. I guess I wasn't supposed to observe for a few hours and just bring him to the ER ( no clinics open at 3am. Had to wait until 7am). She also said that I should allot more time for my child (I think she didn't read what I wrote for occupation: housewife). She went on to say that parents are a child's first doctors, that sickness can be prevented and it is my duty to keep my kid healthy. In summary, unhealthy kid equals bad parents... excuse me, bad moms. It came across as if I wished my child to get sick or I intentionally made him sick. She made me feel like the worst parent in the world. I will never forget that. Because of that doctor, I am now a paranoid overprotective parent. I panic when my son starts to get the sniffles.
Immunization of a child.
Image credit: Pixabay

The debate on immunizations. Immunization is a tender topic among parents since some parents decide that it's best for their children to NOT receive the controversial vaccinations. There seems to be rumor or a theory that autism is linked to vaccinations. According to Wikipedia, the theory on the link between vaccinations and autism has been debunked however, it has not allayed the fears of many parents out there. Since I live in a third world country, my partner and I decided it was best to have our son immunized from all possible diseases that can be prevented by vaccinations. We have to do the best we can as parents and pray and hope for the best.

Lastly, weight. While some moms shrink back to their pre-pregnancy size of zero, others aren't so lucky. Other mothers have the luxury of working out or are just thin, to begin with. I've met a mother, who after 4 kids, shrunk back to her pre-pregnancy weight after each pregnancy. As for me, I had to put a little effort to lose some of my "baby weight"( I lost 40lbs) but, I haven't exactly gone back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I'm good though at where I'm at with my weight. Well, if you are one of those moms that worked out extremely hard to get back to pre-pregnancy weight, by all means, flaunt it. I recently read an article about the wife of Channing Tatum being shamed for flaunting her toned body with pics on Instagram. And this is what she replied back with:

As for women like me who are on the plus your body. A little human being came from you. It stretched to house your baby for 9 months. If you see mothers who don't have enough time to pamper themselves or get all gussied up, please remember how harassed you were when your newborn kept you up all night.

Jenna Tatum is right. We should help one another instead of shaming each other. We aren't perfect. We are all worried about our children. If you constantly beat yourself up on whether you are doing a good job, chances are, you are doing an amazing job being a parent. Good parents always have the best interests of their children at heart. 
(Originally published 9/22/17)


  1. I am really sorry to hear you have to deal with such comments as a mom. While the US is full of mom shaming I have never experienced the direct bullying you describe from doctors and other professionals.


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