Mums today 'more judged' than previously

mum and child

Pregnant women and new mothers face more scrutiny and judgement than previous generations, a study suggests.

Researchers from Cardiff University interviewed mother and grandmother pairs and found that community surveillance of pregnant women and infant feeding had significantly increased between the generations.

Many of the mothers reported feeling watched and evaluated by family, friends and strangers and some spoke of being questioned by strangers about their choices during pregnancy and when feeding their babies.

Lead researcher Dr Aimee Grant said: "The mothers in our study described how this intrusive policing of lifestyle choices began in pregnancy and then continued to impact on their everyday lives, particularly through infant feeding.

"This observation and interference by others can result in pregnant women and new mothers performing public motherhood in ways that are highly self-aware and self-conscious, which makes it difficult to follow advice from health professionals."

Participants in the small study said that when they were feeding infants in public, or in the presence of family members, they were aware of a need to show as little of themselves as possible as breasts were seen as sexual objects to be covered at all times.

In contrast, women who were formula feeding spoke about hiding formula packaging while preparing bottles in public.

All of the new mothers said comments and behaviour from their family could influence their feelings towards infant feeding and felt that the comments were judgments of their capability to look after their children.

Based on the study's findings, Dr Grant said there were ways the public could make it easier for pregnant women and new mums.

She said: "Don't touch a woman's bump unless she has given you permission.

"Also, if you wouldn't ask someone what they had for lunch, it probably isn't appropriate for you to ask them questions about feeding their baby."

The study was published in Families Relationships and Society.

© PAA 2017

You may also like...

Man killed in Beaufort Collision

Man killed in Beaufort Collision

A man's been killed in a crash between a car and a truck near Beaufort this morning. Police say the incident happened at 8:30 on Skipton Road,...

Aust snake bite victims mostly men: study

Aust snake bite victims mostly men: study

Middle aged men die from snake bites more than any other group in Australia, a new report has found. An audit of the National Coronial...

Dr Mark Nethercote

Dr Mark Nethercote

 Garrath & Gabe spoke with Ballarat Paediatrician Mark Nethercote about his new book "A Time For Grace" which talks about his perspective...

'Love drug' powder may save mums' lives

'Love drug' powder may save mums' lives

A nasal spray based on the "love drug" oxytocin and developed by Australian researchers is being hailed as a potential way to reduce the number of...