Ever feel as if there’s a beady eye scrutinising you every time you feed, swaddle or bounce your baby?
Well your paranoia may in fact be well founded: the latest study shows that mothers today face more judgement and scrutiny than any generation before them.
The reason? Community surveillance.
When Cardiff University researchers interviewed mother and grandmother pairs, the younger mum reported a much higher instance of having their parenting watched and evaluated by the community (that’s family, friends and even strangers).
The majority of young mothers said they battled questions on how they planned to feed their baby before the baby was even born. These questions came from those closest to them as well as mere acquaintances.
Interestingly, everybody who asked the question had a strong opinion on the matter themselves and felt comfortable sharing that with a pregnant woman.
Research associate Aimee Grant told The Conversation:
‘Unhelpful and sometimes incorrect feeding advice came from a broad range of sources. We heard that friends would push women to feed their babies differently, and eventually the mums withdrew from these friendships to stop the flow of advice.’
‘Most surprisingly, pressure continued to come from strangers. Mothers were questioned about what milk was being fed to babies from bottles in public. A stigma also existed around the preparation of formula: one mum reported hiding the powder under the table so as not to be seen.’
The women involved in the study felt this kind of constant evaluation had a negative impact on their self-esteem; something the grandmothers had not experienced when they were young mums.
Do you think today’s mums are more judged than the previous generation? Let us know in the comments.