Charlotte Ramberg, LPC
Updated: Feb 28, 2020
Shame. It's a terrible part of our society that only breeds more shame. Shaming mothers is a huge societal issue that we have. With out independent expectations and families living farther and farther apart, modern moms don't have the same support they once had. It's no longer part of the gig to have grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles helping out. The 'village' that it takes to raise a child is no longer a thing. Ironically, moms are expected to do more with less support.
My first experience with mom shaming came from a labor and delivery nurse, and I didn't even realize it until much later. Almost every time this nurse came in to our room to check on us she inevitable would say, "You should be sleeping. The baby should be in her bed." Mind you, I had just had my first child. I had no real idea what I was doing and my kid screamed unless she was held. She had just been born and didn't like to be alone! Insert fourth trimester here... it would have been helpful to know that babies wouldn't exactly be okay being separated from mom. I was being told by this nurse that my child should sleep fine on a cold, hard hospital version of a bassinet and I should be passed out. Because of this reaction from my nurse, I felt I wasn't doing something right or my baby was "high maintenance" (not a thing in the grand scheme of things.)
When I mentioned 'fourth trimester' above, I'm speaking about the idea that babies really need another 3 months to develop before being born, but humans have heads too big to wait any longer than 9 months. So essentially, during the fourth trimester our babies aren't ready for the outside world and mom is the only safe place they have known.
There are better ways of telling a new mom that she needs sleep. Pretty much any way of saying or explaining something is better than shaming someone. Here is what I have come up with that would have been more useful in my situation and I would have appreciated if the nurse said something like this, "Hey, is she still fussing? The womb is all she knows and it can be a difficult transition to the outside world. She may be scared or cold. You're doing a great job making her feel better. If she's sleeping, try your best to put her in her bed so you can get some sleep too. It may be hard, but sleep is very important to your recovery. Please let us know if there's anything we can do that might make you feel more comfortable."
For some awesome work on shame check out Brene Brown on TED and where books are sold.