Why blame the mom?

I’ve heard so many mothers say - “It’s hard … they look at my child thinking that I’ve done something wrong”.

When something goes wrong, we often seek someone to blame. Having someone to blame is comforting, it allows our society to believe that by avoiding that person’s mistakes, everyone else will be spared their fate.

Historically it has been mothers who have taken the blame for anything going wrong with a pregnancy - miscarriage, preterm birth, still birth, baby with disabilities, baby with genetic disorders, a low birth weight baby and on and on and on. In earlier times it was believed that it was the mother’s sins which caused the disability. Women were blamed for not following doctor’s orders or folk wisdom - carrying anything heavier than a frying pan would cause a miscarriage.

Today’s belief is that women can prevent birth defects by what she does or doesn’t do during pregnancy. Strong public health messages suggest that by taking good care of yourself during your pregnancy, you will prevent most defects - an unfortunate message to give to the healthy women who just gave birth to a child with a disability.

Louise Kinross (editor of Bloom Magazine) says it perfectly, “… in 70% of birth defects the cause is unknown. Let’s speak the truth about how much we don’t know about the causes of childhood disability and, more importantly, how to prevent it. Let’s tell the truth about how a healthy mom can just as easily produce an unhealthy baby, or a healthy baby with a disability. Disability is not necessarily synonymous with poor health.”

We really do have less control over this than we think. Disabilities are often random, due to genetics, and cannot be prevented no matter how healthy you were during your pregnancy. Let’s protect women whose children have been born with disabilities from being blamed, and from blaming themselves. Every mother wants the best for her child, and in most cases it’s not something that they did.

Nina Zylstra
Editor of Special Kids

[ Posted 24 April 2015 ]

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