Why have we allowed the Maternal Guilt Industry to blight new motherhood?

Bad Peach

Becoming a mother is an experience like no other.

As Alexandra Sacks, MD wrote in The New York Times:

The process of becoming a mother, which anthropologists call “matrescence,” has been largely unexplored in the medical community. Instead of focusing on the woman’s identity transition, more research is focused on how the baby turns out. But a woman’s story, in addition to how her psychology impacts her parenting, is important to examine, too…

The process is joyful, but the joy is not unalloyed. In addition to welcoming a beloved new child, women giving birth for the first time are experiencing a change in identity, a sudden weight of tremendous responsibility, the reality of motherhood vs. the fantasy, and possible ambivalence at the change.

Natural childbirth, breastfeeding and attachment parenting aren’t merely unnecessary; they have nothing to do with mother-infant bonding at all.

In other words, even in the best and easiest cases, matrescence is a fraught process. So why have we allowed the Maternal Guilt Industry to make it harder by promoting the holy trinity of maternal suffering: pain, fear and anguish?

What is the Maternal Guilt Industry?

As I wrote last week, the Maternal Guilt Industry encompasses the professional and lay advocates of natural childbirth, lactivism and attachment parenting. The bedrock principle of the Maternal Guilt Industry is this: children’s wellbeing can only be ensured by mothers’ suffering.

It starts with the well known imperative to endure the agonizing pain of labor and not dare to abolish it with an epidural. The imperative to embrace suffering continues with the extraordinary pressure to breastfeed exclusively. It is reinforced by attachment parenting, which recommends that a mother erase her identity and limit herself to continuous physical proximity to her child. And it is made possible by the guilt and shame heaped on women who refuse to comply.

As Dr. Sacks writes:

There’s also the ideal mother in a woman’s mind. She’s always cheerful and happy, and always puts her child’s needs first. She has few needs of her own. She doesn’t make decisions that she regrets. Most women compare themselves to that mother, but they never measure up because she’s a fantasy. Some women think that “good enough” (a phrase coined by the pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott) is not acceptable, because it sounds like settling. But striving for perfection sets women up to feel shame and guilt.

In my view, the Maternal Guilt Industry sets women up to feel guilt and shame in order to push sales of their products and services.

As Chavi Eve Karkovsky, MD wrote in a fantastic piece for Slate entitled Sorry You Were Tricked Into a C-Section; What disapproving friends don’t understand about cesarean births:

You’d think any woman who has recently had major abdominal surgery and has a newborn to care for would have enough to deal with, but too often there’s more. This is what I see a fair amount of the time: A woman who has had a cesarean birth gets comments from her friends—online friends, IRL friends—mostly congratulations, but also messages of regret. Coming from everywhere are intimations that the surgery wasn’t warranted, suggestions that something underhanded occurred. Her friends and relatives point out that the cesarean birth rate in this country is too high. It can’t be the case that all of those surgeries are necessary.

So her friends and relatives tell her, outright or through subtext, that she must have been snookered. She was fooled and then underwent some shady butchery. Perhaps the fate of her child was held hostage: “Something might happen to the baby,” she was told, and under these manipulations, she allowed herself to be cut. But, her friends say, it wasn’t right.

That’s the Maternal Guilt Industry, natural childbirth branch, at work. But when it comes to guilt and shame, the natural childbirth branch has nothing on the lactivism branch. The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, which is not baby friendly and is downright mother hostile, grossly exaggerates the benefits of breastfeeding and ignores the risks in order to shame women into breastfeeding.

The central premise of the attachment parenting branch, that maternal infant bonding is fragile, uncertain and contingent on following the admonitions of the natural childbirth and breastfeeding branches, completes the trifecta of pain and fear with the anguish that new mothers have ruined their babies before they are even a week old.

Why have we allowed the Maternal Guilt Industry to blight new motherhood?

It’s certainly not because we believe in their medical or psychological claims. Unmedicated vaginal birth has no benefit for babies and substantial risk of injury and death. The benefits of breastfeeding in industrialized countries are so trivial as to be meaningless (a few less colds and episodes of diarrheal illness across the entire population of infants in their first year). And maternal infant bonding is not uncertain and contingent; it happens spontaneously in every situation except severe abuse and neglect (and bonding often takes place even then).

We’ve allowed it to happen because doctors have been too busy taking care of people to worry about the aggressive tactics the Maternal Guilt Industry uses to promote itself.

We’ve allowed the Maternal Guilt Industry to frame the issues and made only half-hearted efforts to debunk their nonsensical claims.

We’ve allowed the Maternal Guilt Industry to portray their products and services as “feminist” when they are the opposite: sexist, retrograde and aimed at controlling women, not increasing their freedom.

We’ve allowed natural childbirth charlatans (most doulas and childbirth educators) into hospitals and let them spread the poison that eats away at the self-esteem of new mothers.

We’ve committed the unpardonable sin of letting a private organization, the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, have free reign inside a hospital. To my knowledge, no other private organization has been allowed to do so for the obvious reason that private organizations are committed to what benefits them, not what benefits patients.

We’ve allowed attachment parenting gurus to proclaim their beliefs, contradicted by scientific evidence, without attempting to publicly debunk them.

In short, we’ve repeated the same mistakes with the Maternal Guilt Industry that we committed with the Anti-Vax Industry and women and children are suffering pain, fear and anguish as a result.

New motherhood is hard enough; we should not allow the Maternal Guilt Industry to make it harder.

It’s time to force the Lamaze certified childbirth educators out of hospitals and replace them with science based childbirth educators. The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative should be ended immediately; it causes far more harm than good since the benefits of breastfeeding are trivial. Most importantly, we should spend time educating women about the actual scientific evidence about mother-infant bonding and emphasize in the strongest possible terms that there are many, many ways to be a good mother and that natural childbirth, breastfeeding and attachment parenting aren’t merely unnecessary; they have nothing to do with mother-infant bonding at all!

  • keepitreal

    Attachment parenting is just another term for unaddressed maternal neurotic syndrome. The baby will be fine, it’s the mom who is in question.

  • Cat

    Attachment parenting baffles me, because it just looks like so much extra work based on zero evidence. If adopting some or all techniques recommended in the AP literature work for your particular family, that’s great, but I haven’t seen a shred of credible evidence that AP produces better results than any other parenting style practised by loving parents with good intentions, and I challenge anyone to go in and sort the toddlers in my local group into AP and non-AP babies.

    (Yet hardline AP seems to be becoming increasingly mainstream, e.g. there seems to be a consensus on a lot of parenting forums that all babies “need” to be held 24/7 for the first few months. I’m struggling to think of a historical period where the average woman could have spared six months out of her life to sit under a baby full-time. My great-grandmothers, who had between three and eleven children each, houses to keep clean, extended family to look after and, in some cases, jobs outside the home, would have laughed at the idea.)

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      Heck, my great-grandmother put her two eldest in an orphanage for a while after great-grandpa left. She got them back when she remarried.

    • Sue

      And the older kids looked after the younger ones. That’s how many knew what to do when they became parents themselves. No need for parenting manuals.

    • ukay

      AP advocats have no idea about the strenuous labour and hardship prevalent during the good old times they love to invoke. Nobody had time to check their 8+ childrens facial expression for the next bowel movement.

      Fun fact: from late Middle Ages until up to the beginning of the 20th century it was unusual to breastfeed your child in several parts of Europe. Women were needed as workers and those who breastfed considered lazy. Many of the peasant women thought it beneath them. The infant mortality was appaling as this was the time before BIG FORMULA. I am not saying those were good times but maybe some people should get their record straight about the golden breastfeeding age.

  • fiftyfifty1

    OT: Yet another half truth, half bullshit installment in NPR’s maternal mortality series:
    https://www.npr.org/2017/12/22/572298802/nearly-dying-in-childbirth-why-preventable-complications-are-growing-in-u-s

    My favorite bit (how does this even pass their editors?) was about the CS rate: ” The U.S. rate is roughly twice that of Europe.” Um, they do know that Europe is not a single country right? And that Italy’s rate is higher than ours and multiple European countries have rates about equal to our own?

    • Sarah

      Of course it is, and Europeans all hold exactly the same views on childbirth.

  • worried

    The BFHI is affecting other doctors in the hospital now. A doctor who had told me that after birth I’d have to go back on necessary medication within a week has now changed his tune to trying to push me into breastfeeding. I said no and we’re back to the original plan, but it really bothers me that the lactivists are getting their claws into otherwise sensible doctors.

    Part of the problem is that doctors in non-maternity fields tend to believe what they’re told by other employees of the same hospital. They’re doing real work and don’t have the time to double-check the nonsense that lactivists spew.

    • Sue

      Yes, that’s true. I only know the actual evidence from having it discussed here by Dr Amy.

  • Spamamander (no mall bans)

    Quick typo alert, “What is the Maternal Guild Industry?”. 🙂

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Thanks! Fixed it.

  • Namaste

    The fundies benefit, specifically fundie males. The whole point, the explicit point, is to make motherhood so labor intensive and time consuming that the mother’s entire identity is completely consumed until she is a meek, placid Stepford Wife. Her husband gets an unpaid domestic servant whose only jobs are to cook, clean, breed, and fuck. The woman then spends her life churning out baby after baby until menopause in the hopes that her male children will form a voting base and that her female children will churn out baby after baby to add her own male progeny to that voting base. Within a few generations, they have defeated the liberal progressives simply by out breeding them and intentionally secluding themselves from mainstream society to prevent the slightest possibility of anyone joining “The Dark Side.”

    • Zornorph

      Well, but I know plenty of crunchy lefties who are all up in this stuff too, though.

      • Daleth

        In my somewhat limited experience, the Crunchy Leftie version of attachment parent serves to make the woman the absolute ruler of the home and the children. She decides everything relating to how to raise, feed, dress, educate, etc. the kids. She decides everything relating to how to organize, decorate and run the home. She is the one the children are strongly attached to; daddy, not so much.

        That works as long as she remains with a supportive husband/kid’s dad and as long as some of the kids are still young. When the kids start wanting independence, she’s left with less and less to do and less and less of an identity.

        Long story short she’s in the same situation that our grandmas were in when they decided they were sick of it and wanted the option of having careers and lives outside the home.

        • The Kids Aren’t AltRight

          That is what I have seen too, but it is also has the benefit of keeping ambitious women from competing with men outside of the home and upholds patriarchal power in all but a limited sphere.

  • Mel

    I don’t want my son growing up thinking that his outcomes in life are completely pre-determined by my choices as a mother. Sure, some of his infancy outcomes are related to choices I make as a mom – but less and less of them will be over time because of my choices and more because of his choices.

    Right now, Spawn’s been growing, but dropping in his percentiles for weight especially so he’s down in the 8-9% for his adjusted age and <<1% for his calendar age. He's already on 24-calorie formula per ounce so we've switched his finger food from fruits, veggies and whole-wheat grains to cheese, bologna, and butter or full-fat yogurt added to every fruit or veggie.

    I had hoped to expose him to more healthy options – but that's tabled for now. He need the calories and he can learn to enjoy a butter-free vegetable once he's older like all of us have done. I refuse to pretend that making a sane choice for him now is dooming him to poor eating choices as an adult.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      Has he even hit his gestational birthday yet? It’s plain silly to worry about it at this age. My boyo ate just about everything, even a couple kinds of greens when he was one. Now at 4 he’ll eat corn and raw carrots. Sure, he’ll eat them without butter, but that barely counts.

      • Mel

        He’s turned one on paper last month. Actually, he likes a lot of green things right now – I’m just having to get a bit more creative with adding fat and protein. I hear he’s awake from his last nap so we’re going to try mashed sweet potatoes with yogurt.

        • AnnaPDE

          Mashed roasted sweet potato with butter and a drop of maple syrup was something my son really liked before he decided that everything potato (except fries) is the devil’s work.

    • Montserrat Blanco

      My son is skinny too. A difference of about 30% in the percentiles of weight and height (50% on height, 20% on weight). He usually has Nutella spread for breakfast, unlimited French fries at lunch, full fat dairy products, etc, etc. He does not put on weight despite that. I wish you the best of lucks with Spawn weight but if he does not, please, do not worry, he can be perfectly healthy and skinny/tiny/define as you think is best. I am so glad you both are doing well.

    • Tigger_the_Wing

      My twins were only six weeks early, and were pretty good weights for their age: five pounds, eleven ounces, and four pounds, one-and-a-half ounces (I was told, firmly, when he was small never to forget the half an ounce). The heavier one was also much, much longer/taller and had a much larger head. By the time they were four months old, they looked even less like twins because of the size difference, which persisted.

      Flash forward to when they were three; I was sent to see a pædiatrician because the smaller twin was so very slight compared to his brother (despite not having his brother’s food intolerances, and eating enough for two). We weren’t worried – his father was also six weeks early and skeletal throughout childhood and beyond – but I got the third degree from the pædiatric nurse, who seemed to think that I was starving him. When we finally got in to see the doctor himself, he wasn’t in the least bit worried. A tiny, slight Scotsman himself (like my husband) he thought that my kids could turn out to be any size at all (at 5’7″, I’m only an inch shorter than my husband). And so it was – as adults, our only daughter is 5’4″; our older sons are 6’2″ and 5’10”, and the twins are 6’1″ and 5’7″. Like their father and me, and their grandparents, all were underweight until their thirties.

      At twenty four years of age, the twins are still as skinny as their father, and still look nothing alike (although each resembles an older sibling). I wouldn’t worry about weight; some kids just lose every calorie we put into them because they are never, ever still, always fidgeting, running around, even tossing about in their sleep.

    • fiftyfifty1

      It is a bummer how calories have come to be seen as unhealthy. The truth is that calories are the MOST important thing our food provides us. The MOST vital. I frequently counsel parents with underweight kids and it is such a struggle to get them to view calories (especially fats and carbs) in a positive light. Some are never able to make the mental switch and continue to feed their kids a diet deficient in calories. Most are able to make a change in what they feed their kids, but continue to see it as some sort of “necessary evil” and wait anxiously for the day that they can again switch their kids to a “healthy diet.”

      • Caylynn Donne

        Agreed 100%. I had one mother who insisted on giving her 15 month old 2% milk instead of homogenized because “all the fat is unhealthy.” I spent a lot of time talking to her about the importance of fat for brain development and growth at that age, and the reasons behind the recommendations for homo milk until at least 24 months. She kept telling me that there was such a high prevalence of obesity among young children, that surely giving them homo milk was only contributing to the problem. It was one of those sessions where I’m not sure if I got through to the mother at all, but I did write a thorough note for the family doctor, and referred her to our programs for parents and young children, so maybe if she hears it often enough from enough people, it will sink in.

        On the other extreme, I have parents who see no problem with feeding their toddler Timbits (i.e. donut holes) for breakfast, since the child needs to gain weight. I try to gently guide them towards more nutrient-dense high-fat, high-calorie options (i.e. peanut butter, full-fat yogurt, full-fat cheese, eggs, olive and canola oil, avocado if the child will eat it, mashed sweet potatoes with butter, etc.)

        Then we are starting to see the reappearance of rickets, due to the fact that parents aren’t giving their toddlers cow’s milk, but rather unfortified rice or almond milks, because they think they are “healthier” or else because the families are vegan. When vegan families are referred to me early enough I emphasize the need for vitamin D-fortified milk alternatives. Unfortunately, many aren’t referred to me until problems have already occurred.

        • Box of Salt

          ” unfortified rice or almond milks”

          WTW? The D-fortified versions of rice and soy and whatnot were available last decade, when my teenager who started life as a cow’s-milk-intolerant baby drank them.

          Do these same folks also avoid doing anything outdoors without a liberal slathering of sunscreen?

          • Caylynn Donne

            Well, by law the plant-based “milk” beverages aren’t required to be fortified, so not all brands are. On top of that, we are in Canada, where a good 6 months of the year, we don’t get enough sunlight (or have enough skin exposed) to have endogenous vitamin D production. Add to that fact that parents have been scared into never letting their toddlers go outside without being fully covered or fully slathered in sunscreen, due to the risk of skin cancer, and we are seeing the reoccurrence of rickets. In several populations: new Canadians, low SES families, and middle-to-high SES “crunchy” and/or vegan families.

            It’s one of the reasons (although the major one is the huge dairy farmers’ lobby) that there is a push to require plant-based “milk” beverages to be called “beverages” and not “milks.”

        • It wasn’t so long ago that “fat” babies were regarded as being the most the most healthy, and a man’s corpulence was a mark of his success, as it showed he could afford to eat well. We’ve gone from one extreme to another.

          • AnnaPDE

            What is hard to achieve when you aren’t wealthy is the ideal, very simply. When food is expensive and hard to get, being fat is great. When calories are cheap but nutrients not, it’s nutrient dense that’s the ideal. When that’s available in stores affordably, home cooking that needs serious time investment is the all-important saviour.
            Same with sports – fit was yesterday, reasonable weight and firmness isn’t enough – you can too easily get those with incidental exercise, active commuting or physical labour. No no, crossfit-shaped shredded muscle is the must-have marker of health, which is very hard to achieve when your life doesn’t include time for dedicated workouts.
            It’s not new either. My art historian friend loves pointing out that specific line of muscles on ancient sculptures that is the tell-tale sign of rigorous javelin training. Not something a typical person – even soldier – would have had the opportunity to develop, and thus one of the most emphasised parts of the ideal.

          • Daleth

            Bingo. The ideal is whatever only wealthy people can readily attain.

        • fiftyfifty1

          “On the other extreme, I have parents who see no problem with feeding their toddler Timbits (i.e. donut holes) for breakfast, ”

          Although is it really “extreme” to eat a donut for breakfast? I mean that is the cultural role that donuts traditionally occupied, no? A pastry eaten as a breakfast food.

          But nowadays donuts are demonized as the worst, unhealthiest, indulgence ever. You are bad for having one yourself and triple bad if you give them to your kids. And yet we still eat plenty of them. Just furtively and with guilt. Maybe a coworker buys a dozen and brings them into work because it would be “bad” to buy one for herself, but she can justify it if it’s for a group. And then we grab one because after all we didn’t buy it ourselves, so that makes it less “bad.” Then we gulp it down in 2 bites, standing up next to her desk, feeling all guilty. It’s so screwy. Far better to just calmly and intentionally buy and serve them as a breakfast food.

          • Caylynn Donne

            As a dietitian, this is my view: donuts are fine as an occasional treat. Having them every day for breakfast? Not something I can recommend for anyone, but especially not a 14 or 15 month old who needs more nutritionally-dense foods. There is really no nutritional value to a Timbit – they have calories and that’s about it. No fibre, vitamins or minerals, and some flavours have saturated fat. Again, fine as an occasional treat (or even for breakfast once a week). But feeding your toddler Timbits every day for breakfast? Not something that I, as a dietitian, can ignore. I would be negligent if I didn’t educate those parents on more nutrient-dance high-fat, high-calorie foods that should be part of a toddler’s regular breakfast. Plenty of those options cost less than Timbits too.

            The Timbits are just an example of a larger problem: parents who are feeding nothing but ultra-processed foods to their young children, not a fruit or vegetable in sight, no whole grains, and too much juice and fruit punch. And who see nothing wrong with it. Again, those kinds of foods are fine as part of a way of eating, but when that’s all the toddler or child is getting, it can lead to all kinds of health problems.

          • fiftyfifty1

            “The Timbits are just an example of a larger problem: parents who are feeding nothing but ultra-processed foods to their young children, not a fruit or vegetable in sight”

            Hmmm. In your example, the problem doesn’t seem to be Timbits, it seems to be lack of fruits and vegetables. And yet society labels Timbits as the “larger problem.” They must embody the blame.

            I bring it up only because I see this virtuous food/guilty food dichotomy so often. Right down to the specific food choices you mention. “She may be underweight but at least she has healthy habits- when she wants something sweet she has a sweet potato not something processed” “I know he needs to restore. I’m sure you’ll recommend healthy choices like the ‘good fats’ of avocados.” Or “I tell her carbs are not so bad as long as they are whole grains.” We joke that sweet potatoes, avocados and whole grain quinoa are the Holy Trinity of orthorexia. Granted, my perspective is warped by my patient population (LOTS of eating disorders), it sounds like your patient population is quite different.

          • Caylynn Donne

            I’m pretty much as far from orthorexia as you can get. And I try really hard not to impart values to foods – I’ll never use “good” and “bad” for instance. I do talk about “choose more often” and “choose less often” – emphasizing that the “choose more often” foods have more of what our bodies need to keeping working at their best. And that “choose less often” doesn’t mean never eat them, but have them in smaller amounts or less frequently than the “choose more often” foods.

            People are amazed when I tell them that beer and pizza are okay (as long as that’s not what you are eating every day), and that an occasional Blizzard treat from Dairy Queen is just fine (especially since a very famous Canadian bariatric doctor has problems with both Miracle Treat day and pizza days at schools, but that’s a separate issue). Or that I talk about foods that aren’t part of Canada’s Food Guide (which I never personally use).

            People come into my office often saying “oh, I’m so bad” or “my eating is so bad” and I always reframe that – saying that they aren’t bad because of their food choices and that food is neither good nor bad, but that if they aren’t happy with how they are eating, we can look at it together and identify where they could possibly make some changes.

            That said, I see both the Timbits every day and the lack of fruits and vegetables as concerns. The Timbits because they are displacing more nutrient-dense foods (when eaten every day) and the lack of fruits and vegetables because of all the important nutrients they provide.

            But I get it: I’ve been judged by my fellow dietitians for having a can of Diet Coke at lunch instead of sticking with water. Or being one of the few people to enjoy the cookies at our holiday celebration when I was doing my master’s degree.

          • Look, I know all about high-quality fats and nutrient-dense food and try to stuff my underweight son with them–but if he loved gorging himself on doughnuts, I’d feed them to him every day, by the bushel. Oh, yes I would. He’s not picky, but he just won’t eat much of ANYTHING, period.

          • Caylynn Donne

            That’s fair enough, but as a dietitian, I wouldn’t be doing my job (and potentially the physicians reading my notes would report me to my college) if I told a parent it was okay to give their child nothing by doughnuts if that was all the child would eat. Instead, to do my job properly, I have to talk about the division of responsibility in feeding and about nutrient-dense foods that are high-fat and high-calorie. That’s my responsibility as a health care professional. What the parent does at home is between them and their child, but it’s my duty to provide appropriate nutrition counselling, education, and nutrition intervention. If that counselling, education, and intervention doesn’t work for them, then that’s fine, or if they choose to ignore it, that’s fine too. I always tell clients they can do whatever they want with the information/handouts I provide, including ignoring it or throwing them in the garbage. But I wouldn’t be doing my job, as a dietitian, if I didn’t discuss nutrient-dense foods and healthy weight gain for an underweight toddler.

          • I hear you. In fact, the kiddo eats a varied diet, loves fruits and veggies, and I carefully consider how to fill his appetite “slots.” Today being Christmas Eve we had chocolate breakfast cookies with peanut butter (he had one and a half), but usually it’s cheesy eggs, oatmeal (with lots of butter, cream, and blueberries for the boy), whole-wheat English muffins with butter and peanut butter, etc. I certainly don’t want him to develop kwashiorkor or scurvy or something–but by the same token, I’d just be so much happier to see him pig out on something, ANYTHING fattening.

          • Mariana

            I get what you are saying. Eating a doughnut is not the problem. Eating nothing but doughnuts is.

            My relatives who live in the US and the UK used to admonish me about giving my daughter a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice every day when she was 6 months. They claimed it was too much sugar and that babies didn’t need juice. Her weigh was always on the lowest end of the curve, she could really use the calories… also I squeezed an orange for her everyday after lunch because that’s when she had meat, and the pediatrician said vitamin C could help iron absorption. I could give her vitamin c drops, but why not take advantage of the fact I live in a country which produces orange year-round and let her have something as delicious as freshly squeezed orange juice? She didn’t eat cookies or sweets, was it so bad to have a bit of juice? I couldn’t get it through to them…

          • joe

            Here is a tip from an old person, Do NOT try to force feed your children, trust me when they are hungry they will eat, if they don’t want lunch, do not worry, they will eat dinner, cheers.

          • I don’t, but the kid just doesn’t get hungry. He’s in the 8th percentile for height, below the first percentile for weight.

          • joe

            Have him checked by a doctor, there may be an underlying medical problem, if not, trust me do not worry, kids often have cravings, they will pass. I am a senior person and I still retain a craving from my childhood and that is ICE CREAM. So do not worry, cheers.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        God forbid either of my children have a weight 1 percentile point higher than their height, if you ask certain -concerned- relatives. My son’s a beanpole except when he’s a week from a growth spurt, but my daughter tends to be a couple points higher in weight than height. Its irritating. Their ped isn’t worried, but hearing that stuff from Auntie could give a girl a complex.
        On a related note, this kid’s working on 3T. She’s wearing shirts her 4 yo brother wore last winter. 0.o

        • guest

          I hear ya. Why the heck do people think it is OK to fat -shame infants and toddlers?

          I lost 30 lbs during my first pregnancy with hyperemesis gravidum. I had to deal with loose skin and hollow cheeks, rather than stretch marks. In month 7, when I actually started putting on weight, and went up 5 lbs in a month, I was warned constantly against gaining too much weight, or gaining too fast.

          Luckily the baby was incredibly healthy and measured consistently in the 99th percentile. In spite of the massive initial weight loss, laypeople and medical practitioners alike were warning me to limit my calorie intake so that she wouldn’t be too big at her due date. Women who had kids in the 60s, 70s, and 80s gave me advice to take up smoking to keep her small, or to do a shot before bed to stave off hunger pangs. Like somehow exposure to cigarettes, alcohol, and a malnourished mother were fine as long as the baby was dainty, but goodness forbid she be healthy AND a little husky.

          I am quite contrarian, though, so I spent my last three months stuffing my face with fruits, veggies, and dagwood sandwiches loaded with avocado and mayo.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            She’s not even fat! She’s just her namesake’s frame, relatively short legs and long torso. Her brother is all leg. Main difference is that at 1, she still eats most veggies.

    • mabelcruet

      I love looking at photos of my nieces and nephews over time-all of them had the most bizarre growth charts plotted for their first few years. They started out as barrel shaped and there wasn’t a single year when their heights matched their weights. Hopefully Spawn is putting his calories into lengthening bones at the moment, and he’ll chub up again soon.

  • Emilie Bishop

    Another post I wish I’d read back in 2014 while I was pregnant. So many new moms are snookered the other way–not into c-sections but into trials of labor in risky situations, not into formula feeding but into breastfeeding at all costs, not into a more laid-back parenting approach but into a rigid one. Maybe some of it lines up with outcomes mothers want, but not packaged with the shame and guilt.

    • Daleth

      My doctors tried to snooker me into a trial of labor even though I was carrying mono-di twins (so labor had to take place in an operating room!) and one of them was breech or transverse at virtually every ultrasound appointment.

      Even without considering my own needs/wants or the safety of my kids, I can think of MUCH better uses for fully equipped operating rooms than having some woman in there laboring for 20+ hours. It was ridiculous. I refused and insisted on the c-section.

      • Emilie Bishop

        My question for the healthcare providers in these instances is, “To what end?” Clearly your case was one tailor-made for a scheduled c-section. Why do they have to complicate things?

        • Daleth

          I think their goal was to reduce their c-section rate, since Consumer Reports and many other sources have made c-section rates into a supposed problem. I can’t think of any other rationale for their continued pressuring. One of my doctors (I had a team of MFMs due to my pregnancy being so high risk) said that he thought some of the other doctors on the team pushed attempted vaginal birth “perhaps a little too hard.” He reassured me that if I kept insisting that I wanted a c-section, I would get one.

  • Empress of the Iguana People

    I am reminded of my nephew’s reaction to his parents divorce. Because they’d been separated his entire life and had long ago made a workable co-parenting solution, even at times sharing a place as roommates, he hadn’t thought anything of it. He was more excited by the fun dinner all 3 of them had afterward. Until he went back to school and everyone started being -very- sympathetic. He started to wonder if he ought to be upset, so he gradually became upset through the day until he could talk to his parents and they reminded him that it wasn’t a big deal in their household.