Celebrity Mom-Shaming Sends Harmful Message to Mothers, Experts Say

Ideas that a mother has to be around 24/7 lead to "guilt and shame."

ByABC News
May 17, 2016, 3:37 PM

— -- Celebrity mom-shaming is taking on a new level -- spreading the message that "good" mothers shouldn't be spotted out of the house without their newborns.

Model and cookbook author, Chrissy Teigen, was attacked by Twitter users when she went out to dinner shortly after her baby girl, Luna, was born.

"We needed a break, we needed to go enjoy each other's company and be out," Teigen told Good Morning America. “I knew mommy-shaming was a thing, but I didn’t think it would come from going to dinner."

This pre-judgment of what a mother should or should not be doing after she has a baby can be detrimental to the mental health of all mothers, experts say.

"It is good to have time for yourself, not just when you have a baby, but when you are moving through motherhood and life," Diana Barnes, a psychotherapist in private practice and the editor of Women's Reproductive Mental Health Across the Lifespan, told ABC News. "We are not talking about being neglectful, we are talking about self care."

Barnes said the idea that a mother is supposed to be at the service of her child "24/7" can lead to "tremendous amounts of guilt and shame."

"It is not realistic, it is a distortion in thinking, it is not what children really need," she added. "This is coming from a culture that is very demanding of new mothers, and it is very harmful."

More attention has been paid to the problem of post-partum depression in the last several years. But even for moms who don't struggle with the issue, new motherhood can be stressful and some respite can be healthy, according to experts.

"We actually want to come out and say that it is actually good to get out without your baby, as long as the baby is well cared for," Karen Kleiman, the Founder and Director of the Postpartum Stress Center told ABC News. "It can actually be very good for maternal mental health."

"Moms are exhausted, whether they have depression or not, they're overwhelmed and they're sleep deprived," she added. "One of the best things moms can do is to take good care of themselves, and know that self care is not a luxury, it is essential. It is good for their mental health."

John Legend defended the mother of his newborn daughter on Twitter, and also pointed out an inherent double standard for new moms that doesn't affect new dads the same way.