Last year, the public rallied behind Chrissy Teigen after she opened up to discuss her infertility struggles. At the time, she thanked her fans for the kind and encouraging words that were sent her way. Unfortunately, the good will disappeared almost as soon as she got pregnant.
When she started showing earlier than some people expected, critics said it must be twins or something wrong with the pregnancy. She craved sugary cereal while pregnant, failing at motherhood before it begins said Twitter. She and husband John Legend chose to have a daughter during the IVF process. While she openly explained their reasons for doing so, people quickly jumped online to call her selfish and accuse her of “playing Mother Nature.”
Sadly Teigen discovered what most pregnant women do: celebrity or not, once you become pregnant, in the minds of many your body becomes public property.
Then last week she and her husband dared to go out to dinner without their daughter. Her daughter Luna was not even two weeks old, cried the internet! Bad mother! The internet exploded with rage and the judgment was relentless on Twitter. Here are a few gems:*
- “Must not be breast feeding. If so she would not be able to wear the shirt.”
- “You just had a baby stay at home.”
- “I never wanted to leave my daughter, I love her, BUT THAT’S JUST ME.”
- “Dumb. No normal woman would want to leave her baby so soon.”
Even though she shouldn’t have to, Chrissy defended herself against the attacks and as she pointed out, no one was claiming her husband was a bad father for leaving his daughter at home.
Regardless of whether or not she’s a celebrity she is a new mom like any of us and deserves support. She’s recovering from her delivery. She’s figuring out how to use her car seat. She’s bonding with her baby. She’s feeding her baby (however she chooses and it’s none of our business!)
But just for the heck of it, let’s dig into the claim that lays behind the criticism:
- There is a right age to leave your child with a family member or sitter for a few hours and a few weeks old is too young.
Not surprisingly, the internet is wrong about that.
After scouring over a decade of literature, we couldn’t come up with a single study that addressed this issue. There are some that indirectly address this issue in terms of on-demand breastfeeding and postpartum depression, but none that address when a baby is old enough to be left in the care of someone that is not its mother.
Scratching our heads over here at The Scientific Parent we reached out to three of our pediatrician contributors and they all said the same thing: it’s a personal decision, there’s no such thing as ‘too soon.’
So, now that we’ve established that there’s no scientific basis for the -bullying that Chrissy received I’d like to make a plea for some humanity for mothers, celebrity or not. Because let’s face it, we’ve all been in Teigen’s shoes at one time or another, facing an onslaught of judgment.
Please think back to how vulnerable you felt after having your first baby. You’re exhausted. You feel like you just got hit by a truck. You’re simultaneously trying to recover and be responsible for the wellbeing of another person.
You’re already scared that you’re doing everything wrong…so you certainly don’t need thousands of people on the internet telling you that you don’t deserve your baby and you’re a terrible mother. Please remember that there are many factors that can put a woman at risk for postpartum depression or anxiety and they can include stress and weak support systems.
So, if you follow Chrissy on social media (since it’s apparent that she reads what people write) – please help strengthen her support system. Send her an internet high five. Tell her she’s doing her best and her baby is beautiful…because really- isn’t that what every new mom needs to hear?
*At The Scientific Parent we’re not big fans of ‘naming and shaming,’ so we’re not going to imbed links directly to the Tweets listed here. Sometimes we all type before thinking and we want to extend a little grace to those who may regret what they tweeted.