A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
Print Friendly and PDF

If you found this article via social media, you’ve probably already scrolled past three posts about parents being judged. Maybe it’s the mom getting shamed in a grocery store checkout. Maybe it’s a mom at a gas station being judged for leaving the kids in the car. Maybe it’s a mom group implosion.


Such posts assume that other people shouldn’t be judging our parenting. But maybe they should.

In a refreshing article about judgment, JJ Keith addresses the problems of shifting from a society in which grandparents were the only parenting experts to one in which there are countless experts offering their opinions, often unsolicited.

Faced with so many differing parenting philosophies, each with its own “resident zealot” about a particular parenting issue, Keith realized that what she wanted was not confidence in her parenting. She wanted insecurity.

 

 

Keith presents a case for judging other parents, just not as we currently imagine it: “By surrendering to insecurity, I’m finally free of the worry that other people are judging me because I know that they are. And that’s fine! And sometimes they might even be right!” Keith admits, after revealing she didn’t brush her baby’s teeth for the first year, “Sometimes I need horrified onlookers to make me realize that I could be doing better.”

Here are the six people who can help you invite that healthy insecurity:

Mom group member

Mom groups sometimes seem like gauntlets. You’re all first-time parents. In the back of your mind, you know that none of the other moms know what they’re doing, either. And yet, every time one of them speaks, it sounds like an accusation. Conversations about breastfeeding, sleep training, parenting roles, or daycare are all potential land mines.

If you had a rough birth experience, you’re probably having trouble listening to glowing stories from other moms. If your child is not smiling, or cruising, or standing as quickly as the other babies, you’re likely to get nervous. “I don’t understand how some moms can work” might sting a bit if you’ve made the decision to go back to your job.

But is the “criticism” from mom groups actually intended as such? Or is it like that first week of college, when everyone is trying to look like the smartest person in the room, desperately afraid of being found out as the dumb one?

What if we extended the benefit of the doubt to our fellow mom-learners and focused on what benefits a mom group can offer, like improving health outcomes for you and your child, before during, and after delivery.

One study of prenatal group care found that the infants of women enrolled in prenatal group care were less likely to be small for gestational age. The chances of preterm delivery were also lower. The women were more likely to space out their pregnancies, leading to improved health outcomes for both the mothers and infants. Another study suggests that women who attend postnatal groups have a lowered risk for postpartum depression.

The non-parent

The most common accusation about parent judgement is leveled at the non-parent. “She doesn’t even have kids. She can’t give me advice.”

That is absurd.

As career advice-giver Dan Savage often reminds his listeners (many of whom are straight people asking a gay man for sex advice), what qualifies a person to give advice is that people ask for it. Think back to the last time you got mad at a non-parent for offering you advice. Were you perhaps talking about your problems? It probably seemed to them like you were asking for advice.

Whether or not you asked for it, it’s ridiculous to think that the only people who can give you advice are people who are just like you. In fact, many of us seek out advice from people specifically because they are not just like us. We look to siblings and best friends to give us wise counsel. Why shouldn’t we look to those same people even if they don’t have kids? They know us better than anyone. They are also the people in the world most likely to offer their honest and frank opinion.

The “helpful” stranger

You’re doing everything you can to just hold it together and get through the grocery store when the helpful stranger tells you that you shouldn’t be using a pacifier. Or that you shouldn’t be giving your kid those sugary snacks. Or that your sleeping child’s head is at the wrong angle. Or that your kid is too cold and needs socks (the socks he has already removed three times). This can be exasperating.

Instead of submitting that poorly-conceived advice to Sanctimommy or tweeting angrily about the injustice you’ve just experienced, pause and consider the source of advice. This is a person who probably sees that you look tired. She might even see a glimpse of her past self. She wants to reach out, and the baby’s socks seem like a good start.

Pause and think about why you’re angry. This stranger is clearly touching a nerve, but perhaps it’s not her behavior that needs to change. When you find yourself reacting so angrily, ask yourself why. Are you feeling insecure about your parenting? Are you panicked that everyone in the store is judging you and lashing out accordingly?

Next time, instead of harboring resentment, stop and chat. Maybe that woman will hold the baby while you finish checking out. Maybe you’ll get a good decades-old parenting story. Maybe you’ll make a new friend.

Your pediatrician

Your pediatrician’s office lays naked all of your concerns about your child. Is he progressing on pace? Is he a healthy weight? A healthy height? Is his brain developing as it should? Are there signs of serious illness? All of those questions are underneath the actual naked child screaming in anticipation of the shots he’s learned to expect from the visit.

Of course parents are vulnerable in this situation. As a result, they might interpret what the pediatrician says as judgment of their parenting.

Do you feel judged because the pediatrician won’t accept your child because you refuse to vaccinate? Do you feel judged because you don’t want to give your child formula supplementation even though your pediatrician strongly recommends it? Do you feel judged because your pediatrician suggested you put more sunscreen on your child? Do you feel judged because the pediatrician told you to switch to two percent milk or avoid more than six ounces of juice per day?

You’re not being judged. Your child is being cared for.

In these moments, it helps to remember that your pediatrician isn’t “your” pediatrician at all. You are not the patient. Your child is. Your pediatrician is looking out for your child’s interests above all others. That will inevitably lead to some tension if you disagree over what is “best.”

One caveat: Do you feel judged because you promised your child there would be no shots, but the pediatrician says there will be two? Or because you lied to your child about where you were going and now he’s screaming? In those cases, the pediatrician probably is judging you for making him look like the bad guy.

The grandparent

Many parents fear the grandparents’ advice because they think their babies will be less safe under their care. Parenting advice has changed a lot over the last 30 years. Today, we know a lot more than our parents did about safe sleep, infant feeding, and a host of other issues. This will also be true when we are grandparents. So perhaps we shouldn’t be too quick to toss out advice from grandma and grandpa.

If you’re getting mad at a grandparent who suggests a different burping method, sleep training solution, or feeding schedule, it may help to see where that advice is coming from. Just like you, your parents battled the insecurities of new parenthood. Just like you, they struggled to find the things that worked. They can probably still remember the relief of settling into a routine with their children.

Now think about how tightly you cling to your favorite parenting advice, whether it’s the book that has sat on your bedside table for baby’s first year or a private facebook group. That particular parenting philosophy has helped you navigate a time of incredible uncertainty – also true for the advice your parents and in-laws give you. It got them through many sleepless nights. You and your partner are evidence of this.

As repellent as some of this grandparent advice may seem, it may be worth trying.

Your spouse or co-parent

In “Primates of Park Avenue”, Wednesday Martin chronicled the lives of the “Glam SAHM” community, where women of high-powered husbands received a “wife bonus” for excelling at parenting. The book sparked a debate about whether or not husbands should judge their wives’ performance of parenting. It also sparked a lot of judgment about this unique group of mothers.

Bonuses aside, a frank discussion about what you expect of each other as parents and a yearly (perhaps even quarterly) review could help most of us be better parents.

Employees receive regular performance reviews, not just to judge whether they are good at what they’re doing, but also to set goals for the next months and years of their careers. Although your spouse or co-parent is not your boss, giving each other a regular “parenting performance review” may give you an opportunity to discuss your parenting strategies and philosophies with each other.

That extra time spent thinking about the future may make you more successful parents.

Ari Weinzweig, co-founder of Zingerman’s and now business-whisperer to many aspiring startups, describes visioning as “figuring out what we want success to look like.” It’s not an action plan with specific goals, but rather an image of where a business will be at some specific time down the road.

The basic idea is simple: develop a picture of what the future will look like, and you can do a better job getting there from your present.

By actually listening to each other’s thoughtful judgment of your parenting, you and your spouse or co-parent can work on this larger visioning picture, which can help you set the course for what the next five, 10, or 15 years will look like for your family.

Yourself

Every few weeks, some great feel-good story surfaces about people who help without judgment, like the person who came to the rescue of the mom dealing with a Target tantrum. These stories are wonderful reminders of the good people out there who will help other moms out.

But these stories are also concerning because they suggest that moms are in need of rescue, that somehow every other shopper’s experience is being ruined by the yelling child. How many times has another child has actually bothered you while you were walking the aisles of Target?

Yes, you’d probably be annoyed by a child crying at the movie theater. You’d probably be annoyed by a toddler throwing food toward your table at an expensive dinner. But the anger or annoyance you imagine everyone at the grocery store has toward your screaming child is probably mostly in your head.

People are generally generous and kind, and all of us work through difficulties – whether they be pint-sized or existential. The person who most needs to curb judgment may be you.

The very best of Motherly — delivered when you need it most.

Subscribe for inspiration, empowering articles and expert tips to rock your best #momlife.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

While breastfeeding might seem like a simple task, there are so many pieces to the puzzle aside from your breasts and baby. From securing a good latch, boosting your milk supply and navigating pumping at work or feeding throughout the night, there's a lot that mama has to go through—and a number of products she needs.

No matter how long your nursing journey may be, it can be hard to figure out what items you really need to add to your cart. So we asked our team at Motherly to share items they simply couldn't live without while breastfeeding. You know, those ones that are a total game-changer.

Here are the best 13 products that they recommend—and you can get them all from Walmart.com:

1. Medela Nursing Sleep Bra

"This fuss-free nursing bra was perfect for all the times that I was too tired to fumble with a clasp. It's also so comfy that, I have to admit, I still keep it in rotation despite the fact that my nursing days are behind me (shh!)." —Mary S.

Price: $15.99

SHOP

2. Dr. Brown's Baby First Year Transition Bottles

"My daughter easily transitioned back and forth between breastfeeding and these bottles." —Elizabeth

Price: $24.98

SHOP

3. Multi-Use Nursing Cover

"When I was breastfeeding, it was important to me to feel like a part of things, to be around people, entertain guests, etc. Especially since so much of being a new mom can feel isolating. So having the ability to cover up but still breastfeed out in the open, instead of disappearing into a room somewhere for long stretches alone to feed, made me feel better."—Renata

Price: $11.99

SHOP

4. Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack

"I suffered from extreme engorgement during the first weeks after delivery with both of my children. I wouldn't have survived had it not been for these packs that provided cold therapy for engorgement and hot therapy for clogged milk ducts." —Deena

Price: $10.25

SHOP

5. Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes

"Being a working and pumping mama, these quick clean wipes made pumping at the office so much easier, and quicker. I could give everything a quick wipe down between pumping sessions. And did not need a set of spare parts for the office." —Ashley

Price: $19.99

SHOP

6. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter

"This nipple butter is everything, you don't need to wash it off before baby feeds/you pump. I even put some on my lips at the hospital and it saved me from chapped lips and nips." —Conz

Price: $12.95

SHOP

7. Medela Double Electric Pump

"I had latch issues and terrible postpartum anxiety, and was always worried my son wasn't getting enough milk. So I relied heavily on my breast pump so that I could feed him bottles and know exactly how much he was drinking. This Medela pump and I were best friends for almost an entire year" —Karell

Price: $199.99 Receive a $50 gift card with purchase at walmart.com

SHOP

8. Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads

"I overproduced in the first couple weeks (and my milk would come in pretty much every time my baby LOOKED at my boobs), so Lansinoh disposable nursing pads saved me from many awkward leak situations!" —Justine

Price: $9.79

SHOP

9. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump

"This has been a huge help in saving the extra milk from the letdown during breastfeeding and preventing leaks on my clothes!" —Rachel

Price: $12.99

SHOP

10. Medela Harmony Breast Pump

"Because I didn't plan to breastfeed I didn't buy a pump before birth. When I decided to try, I needed a pump so my husband ran out and bought this. It was easy to use, easy to wash and more convenient than our borrowed electric pump." —Heather

Price: $26.99

SHOP

11. Milkies Fenugreek

"I struggled with supply for my first and adding this to my regimen really helped with increasing milk." —Mary N.

Price: $14.95

SHOP

12. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags

"I exclusively pumped for a year with my first and these are hands down the best storage bags. All others always managed to crack eventually. These can hold a great amount and I haven't had a leak! And I have used over 300-400 of these!" —Carla

Price: $13.19

SHOP

13. Kiinde Twist Breastfeeding Starter Kit

"The Kiinde system made pumping and storing breastmilk so easy. It was awesome to be able pump directly into the storage bags, and then use the same bags in the bottle to feed my baby." —Diana

Price: $21.99

SHOP

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

For most breastfeeding mothers, being away from your baby means lugging a breast pump with you to work or through airport security and painstakingly packing up your milk to bring or send back to your baby. But a mother who made headlines this week can't take her milk to her baby because she doesn't know when she will see her again.

Maria Domingo-Garcia is among the hundreds of workers picked up by ICE at food processing plants in Mississippi on August 7. When she left for work that day she said goodbye to her husband and three children, including the 4-month-old daughter she was nursing. All three children are U.S. citizens, CNN reports.

Mom's lawyers say she was not able to nurse or pump since being detained 

Earlier this week, when Domingo-Garcia had been separated from her daughter for 12 days, her lawyers told media that she was in a lot of pain as she had not been able to breastfeed or pump for nearly two weeks.

Not being able to drain one's breasts can lead to engorgement, which can lead to mastitis. Both engorgement and mastitis are painful, and mastitis can even be deadly if mothers cannot get medical help.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement stated that a nurse has examined Domingo-Garcia and that she's not producing milk. Her lawyers say they were not present for or aware of this examination, and one of them, Ybarra Maldonado, suggests that the stress Domingo-Garcia is under may have impacted her ability to lactate.

"If during a test she didn't produce milk, perhaps it's because she's been detained for 12 days and going through a horrible situation," Maldonado told CNN.

Indeed, it is possible for a mother to stop lactating if she is separated from her baby for as long as Domingo-Garcia has been. Diana Spalding, midwife and Motherly's Digital Education Editor, says that "the process by which lactation ceases varies so much. It depends on many variables including how long and how frequently a woman was breastfeeding or pumping, how slow or fast she stopped, her emotional state, and simply her individual anatomy. It is 100% possible that Domingo-Garcia had been lactating prior to being taken by ICE."

While attorneys and ICE officials continue to debate whether or not this mother was lactating, her husband continues to try to bottle feed their daughter, an American citizen who is now going without her mother and without breastmilk.

The children are being hurt

One in four children in America has immigrant parents, according to a recent report by the Urban Institute. What's more, 75% of those children (including Domingo-Garcia's) have parents who have been in the US for more than 10 years. Like Domingo-Garcia's kids, 91% of the children of immigrants are citizens. But only 61% of the parents in these families can say the same.

That means there are more than 7 million kids in the US (most of whom are American) who have non-citizen parents and are extremely vulnerable to the same kind of trauma Domingo-Garcia's children are going through. And to call it trauma isn't speculation—it's science. We know that separating children from their parents does long term damage to kids.

"The effect is catastrophic," Charles Nelson, a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School told the Washington Post last year. "There's so much research on this that if people paid attention at all to the science, they would never do this."

That is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stands against the detention of immigrant children, who may soon be detained indefinitely if a plan announced Wednesday proceeds. The AAP also warns against separating children from their parents or primary caregiver unless that person is abusing the child.

"It is the position of the AAP that children in the custody of their parents should never be detained, nor should they be separated from a parent, unless a competent family court makes that determination. In every decision about children, government decision-makers should prioritize the best interests of the child," the APP noted in its 2017 policy statement Detention of Immigrant Children.

Domingo-Garcia's children are not being detained, but they are being hurt by their mother's detention and child advocates say far too many children know their pain.

​When mom or dad is taken

Domingo-Garcia was far from the only immigrant parents working in Mississippi food processing plants the day of the ICE raid that changed her family's life. There were so many more parents who didn't come home that day. The day that also happened to be the first day of school in Scott County.

School superintendent Tony McGee told The Clarion Ledger his staff were working hard to help the children who were displaced or impacted by the ICE raids, and he acknowledged that the situation will impact students' academic abilities. "We'll worry about the school part of it after we get all this sorted out," he said. "You can't expect a child to stay focused on the schoolwork when he's trying to focus on where Mom and Dad are."

Indeed, research links parental incarceration with children developing attention deficit disorders, developmental and speech delays, learning disabilities and behavior problems.

And yet, in some ways, parental incarceration may be better for children than parental detention, which is what Domingo-Garcia's experience is defined as. Incarceration is something that follows a conviction and is a long-term thing. Kids whose parents are convicted of a crime and sent to prison often know where mom or dad is and may even get to maintain a relationship with them.

Detention, on the other hand, is a temporary, more slippery state. The children of those in ICE facilities don't know when or if they are coming home or if they will be deported.

There are other ways in which having a parent incarcerated in prison is different than having one detained in an ICE facility. In some American prisons, moms are permitted to nurse their babies. If Domingo-Garcia had gone to prison in New Mexico she would have the right to breastfeed and the right to pump milk for her baby. But she went to work in Mississippi instead.

You might also like:

News

If you're about to be a parent, whether it's for the first time or not, then you've probably thought about all the changes in your life that are coming—especially in the area of finances. Having a baby alters your financial picture. If you take maternity or paternity leave, those changes can be even more pronounced.

If you have student loans in repayment, you may find it difficult to make monthly loan payment with a new baby, and you might be wondering how to make it work.

So how do you handle student loan payments while on maternity leave?

Here are the options available to student loan borrowers:

Family leave deferment

If you have a federal student loan, you can ask for a parental leave/working mother deferment, which offers you time without payments. Becoming a new mother isn't cause for an automatic deferment, like a job loss or serious illness, and so you'll have to work with your servicer directly to request this type of deferment. Navient, one of the largest federal loan servicers, offers information about this deferment on their website.

To be eligible, you'll need to either be pregnant or have a baby less than six months old. You must prove this via a birth certificate or doctor's statement confirming your pregnancy.

In addition, you cannot be working full-time or attending school during the deferment period. If you're hoping to ask for a deferment without taking the time off work, you'll find your request denied. The maximum length of a deferment is six months.

Forbearance

A forbearance allows you to either make a smaller payment or postpone payments completely. Like the deferment, you'll need to contact your servicer and request it. If it's approved, you can take some time off of your student loans while you're off work. Just be aware that even during forbearance, interest continues to accrue, which means your total balance will increase during that time.

Income-based repayment plan

If you'd prefer to keep making payments but just need the amount reduced, you can apply for a new income-based repayment plan. The Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plan caps your monthly payment at 10% to 15% of your discretionary income. And since it's also based upon the size of your family, it will account for the fact that your family size has changed, and your discretionary income has decreased. To apply, contact your loan servicer.

Pay as you earn (PAYE) plan

Another option is the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) plan, which allows you to pay 10% of your income, but only up to the payment amount you would have paid on the standard plan. Because the income and family size are reassessed each year, this plan is great for growing families. It allows you to get a temporary reprieve with lower payments. Then, as you further your career and increase your income, your payment gets back on schedule. Your servicer can help get you set up with the PAYE plan. Your spouse's income is only counted if you file taxes as married jointly.

Revised pay as you earn (REPAYE) plan

Under the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan, you'll pay the same 10% of your income, with annual reassessment of your situation. You won't, however, get a break from counting your spouse's income. With REPAYE, all income counts regardless of how you file your taxes. The good news is that anything left on your balance will be forgiven after 20 years. Talk to your servicer to see if it's a good fit.

Income contingent-repayment (ICR) plan

The Income Contingent-Repayment (ICR) plan is either 20% of your discretionary income, or what you'd pay on a fixed repayment for 12 years, whichever is less. Just as in the other options, you must update your income and family size each year even if nothing changed. In addition, you may have to pay taxes on any amount that is forgiven because the government considers it income. It does, however, work on subsidized, unsubsidized, PLUS, and even consolidation loans, and can be applied for with your servicer.

Budgeting for a baby

There's no way around it—having a baby brings a lot of new expenses. From the things you'll need to buy before the baby comes, to the amount of diapers, bottles and other things your child will need in their first year, you'll need to figure out how much that will cost and how to correctly budget for it. Babycenter.com has a calculator that can help you break down what your child will cost in a given year. You can divide that number by 12 to understand the monthly costs.

Then, you'll want to identify where you can cut back, if possible, to continue meeting your monthly student loan obligations. For some, that might mean eating out less and bypassing the afternoon latte. For others, it'll require a full restructuring of the budget, especially if you plan to take maternity leave that's not fully paid. Since most maternity leaves are unpaid, you'll need to consider expenses, monthly bills, or other obligations that normally comes out of your paycheck and add those to the budget for the time that you're home.

After you get a handle on what your finances will look like and you have a functional budget, don't wait for your child to arrive before trying to live on that budget. In fact, the sooner you start cutting back, the better. That way, you can get a head start on saving, and you'll also be able to adjust any facets of your budget that prove unworkable.

The bottom line

Having a baby is a joyful experience. But caring for a newborn brings enough stress without the anxiety of how you'll pay student loans while you're on maternity or paternity leave. The best time to plan for your new family member is long before you bring them home. Take the time to talk to your servicer, make a budget and prepare your finances for your baby.

Originally posted on lendedu.

You might also like:

Learn + Play

Michael Bublé knows how to make music that makes us feel all the feels, and his viral lyric video for his song "Forever Now" proves it.

If you've got kids heading back to school, watch this at your own risk and with some tissues handy, mama.

Michael Bublé - Forever Now [Official Lyric Video] youtu.be

The video is a simple animation of a child's room as it transforms over time from a nursery to the packed-up bedroom of a young adult leaving the nest. We held it together until it got to this part: "It wasn't so long ago, we walked together and you held my hand. and now you're getting too big to want to."

The video reminds us of the classic children's book Love You Forever, and that the babies in our arms today will one day be in someone else's arms.

Right now, when our days are filled with bottle washing and shoe getting and making sure that no one falls asleep in their car seat the days sometimes feel so long, but Bublé's telling us something that we sometimes forget: One day we will be looking back and wondering why these long days went by so fast.

You might also like:

News

It would be easy to look at one of Tori Roloff's (of Little People, Big World) stunning maternity photos and think everything is going perfectly for the soon-to-be mother of two, who is expecting a baby girl with her husband Zach. But Tori is keeping it real: Though the photos may show her in a pretty dress, cradling her baby bump against a stunning backdrop, Tori isn't loving every second of her pregnancy. And you know what? That's okay.

The pregnancy is so rough, Tori initially didn't even want to commemorate it with photos (though we bet she's glad she did upon seeing the finished product!).

"I'm not one of those women who loves being pregnant," Tori writes alongside one maternity photo, which she posted to Instagram. "In fact there's not a lot of times I do love being pregnant. Don't get me wrong. I thank God for this amazing gift every single day and I know how blessed I am but it definitely hasn't made me feel my best."

But let's make one thing clear: Just because Tori is clearly finding parts of pregnancy unpleasant, that doesn't mean she isn't immensely grateful for the chance to carry her baby.

"This photo truly embodies what I LOVE about pregnancy. My growing bump is a symbol of a healthy girlsie [sic]. It's a reminder that I'm in a position that many women dream of and trust me—I do not take it for granted," she adds.

One Instagram user sums up our feelings on this post pretty perfectly. "Pregnancy is so hard and I think some people assume that if you don't love it, you're ungrateful. I think you can recognize the difficulties of pregnancy and still be grateful for it — they're not mutually exclusive. This photograph is stunning and you are glowing. Embrace your feelings, no matter what they are. You're valid in them! Sending you big love," she writes in the post's comments.

Our take? Pregnancy is not easy...at all! Morning sickness, exhaustion, back pain, hip pain, belly pain...let's just say expectant mamas can be in a lot of discomfort and voicing that discomfort is totally acceptable.

Yes, pregnancy is an amazing blessing (and one that not every woman gets to or wants to experience), but not enjoying every single second of it doesn't take away from the gratitude an expectant mom feels. So to Tori (and all the other uncomfortable preggos out there), here's what we'll say: Don't beat yourself up for not loving pregnancy. It doesn't mean you love your baby — or the privilege of carrying them—any less.

You might also like:

News
Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.