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Breaking the Silence: Stigma Surrounding Motherhood

 

The early stages of motherhood are not easy. They are filled with new emotions and challenges. Unfortunately, this can be a time when mothers are particularly hard on themselves because of the expectations they have. Expectations about what it would be like to have their newborn in their arms. However, beneath the surface of this idealized image lies a complex reality that many mothers face: stigma. The societal expectations and pressures surrounding motherhood can be overwhelming, leading to feelings of inadequacy and isolation.

 

The myth of the perfect mother.
In today’s society, the concept of the “perfect mother” is omnipresent. Social media, advertising, and even well-meaning community members perpetuate this unattainable ideal. The perfect mother is often pictured as self-sacrificing, ever-patient, perpetually joyful, and impeccably organized—qualities that are nearly impossible to achieve simultaneously.

The emotional bond comes instantly.
In reality, this instant bond between your newborn and you that is expected to happen is not that instant. AND THAT IS OK. Every relationship is built over time and this can be the case here too. So don’t be harsh on yourself.

Breastfeeding is the best decision.
This topic is quite complex but it is essential to mention that there is a lot of judgment around it. Every person believes he knows the best and that is fine. But remember that you know the best for your baby, BASED on the context and the situation you are in. You are not a bad mom just because you can’t breastfeed or because you don’t want to.

A mother adapts to her role instantly.
Now, that’s another lie. How are you supposed to adapt to the fact that another human being is dependent on you instantly? That is absurd. It is a long process. You can also grieve for your old you as a lot of things are changing. Grieving is fine but feeling guilty that you grieve or because you don’t like every part of your new role is not!

To confront the stigma around motherhood, we must:

  1. Promote Realistic Representations: Media and social platforms should celebrate the full spectrum of motherhood experiences, including the challenges and imperfections.
  2. Encourage Open Conversations: Creating safe spaces for mothers to share their stories without judgment can foster understanding and empathy.
  3. Challenge Gender Norms: Redefining traditional gender roles and promoting shared parenting responsibilities can alleviate some of the pressures on mothers.
  4. Support Mental Health: Increasing awareness and access to mental health resources can help mothers seek the support they need.
  5. Advocate for Policy Changes: Policies that support parental leave, affordable childcare, and flexible work arrangements can significantly reduce the stress and stigma associated with motherhood.

There are many more stereotypes and myths surrounding motherhood which are increasing the stigma. Another topic would be the societal roles that are expected of mothers and fathers – who is the breadwinner/ who is the go-to parent/ who is the usual caregiver and what does it mean if we do not live by these stereotypes? Subscribe to our newsletter to read more in the following weeks!

Here are two episodes of our Podcast ‘The Colours of Parenthood‘ which touch upon this particular topic!