Birthmother Shame

Penitent Magdalene by Ciseri, 1864

An essay in a new anthology

Birthmother shame and postpartum depression are closely related, I believe. My essay, “My Face in the Darkness” explores the link. This essay will be included in a new anthology called Mothering Through the Darkness.

Birthmother shame

Somewhere in the timeframe of writing and submitting the essay, I came upon this survey. So I took the survey, realizing anew how completely abysmal my first experience of childbirth was. Mind you, my son was born in 1970, and there has been a fair amount of reform since then, but the survey questions did not evoke a single memory of support or compassion. Every interaction with the nurses and doctors in the hospital before, during, and after my son’s birth was tainted with shaming and judgement. I know that this story is not an unusual one among birthmothers

Women, girls, and shame

Women and girls are subjected to a lot of shaming in our society. Our bodies and our clothing choices are shamed, as are other aspects of our appearance. Everything we do is held up to scrutiny in a way that seems bound to our gender. As a mother of two daughters and grandmother to two granddaughters, I think about shame in the context of their lives. You can read more about shame  HERE. Or watch THIS. I’m looking forward to reading the other essays in “Mothering Through the Darkness.”  I wouldn’t be surprised if, in some way, shame figures into each and every story.

And speaking of surveys, have you seen THIS ONE?

1 thought on “Birthmother Shame

  1. Ms. Moon

    Although I have never experienced what you have, I do know that shame and guilt have played such roles in my life. And they have been completely unnecessary detriments to joy and ability to simply function. Thank god, I never experienced post-partum depression and I think part of that was having my children at home- I knew without a doubt that I had nothing to feel guilty or shame about there.
    But it’s all so complex and if there is anything in this world more wrapped up in a woman’s sense of self than her childbearing, I cannot imagine what it is.
    I love you, Denise. I respect and admire you. I think that if we had drinks together, we would laugh so hard we would pee our pants.


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