Research Confirms It: New Moms Are Being Judged Even More These Days

Think pregnant ladies and new moms face unfair judgment? This study shows it's not just in your head.

New Mom and Baby Nina Buday/Shutterstock
Ever feel like you're under even more pressure than your own mom was when she was raising you? Well, you might be on to something. According to a new study, the judgment women face as they enter motherhood has increased significantly from the previous generation. Between social media judging, increased awareness about the guidelines pregnant women should follow, and the fact that Google makes people believe they're qualified medical professionals, it's sort of easy to see why we're under more scrutiny than ever. And the study's authors suggest that this definitely needs to change.

As part of the study, authors interviewed new/expectant moms and their own mothers. According to their findings, published in Families Relationships and Society, women who become mothers today face more scrutiny during pregnancy and after they become mothers—especially where baby feeding is concerned.

“We found that mothers had very different experiences than grandmothers,” researcher Aimee Grant said in a video on the study’s findings. “Whilst the grandmothers said that feeding was sometimes physically problematic, they largely were just left to get on with it, and when they were pregnant, nobody really interfered too much in what they did. These days, the mothers said it was very different. They were often having inputs from friends and family and sometimes even strangers into what they were doing.”

Handling That Unwanted Parenting Advice

The study's participants shared anecdotes: One woman recalled a time she ordered a cup of tea during her pregnancy—the waiter refused to serve her after noticing her baby bump. Unfortunately, stories like this are all too common—it's as though people forget that pregnant women deserve ownership over their own bodies and are perfectly capable of making their own healthy choices. 

While the study focused on the judgment many women face from their own families and friends, society at large feels all-too-comfortable passing judgment: Moms are judged if they have children too early or too late in life. They're criticized whether they choose to stay at home or head back to work. They face shame when they breastfeed in public...and hate if they opt to formula feed instead. While we can't pinpoint an exact reason this effect has grown over the years, one thing is clear: The last thing an overworked, sleep deprived, overwhelmed, hormonal, healing new mother needs is to feel judged. What we all need is respect, autonomy and lots of support—and if this study's findings are any indication, we have a long way to go.