Friday, December 31, 2010

#2 Count without counting (And don't lose count)

As if the mental and emotional gymnastics of early pregnancy aren't enough on their own, new moms might find themselves tempted to do a simple, easy Google search to find out how to adjust their diet during pregnancy. How hard can it be, right?

Resist! Resist.

Googling before you are a parent is something you might do to research a new camera, a new car, how to clean some sort of bizarre stain on an unexpected surface (red wine on wet paint?). After becoming a parent, Googling becomes a minefield.

For example, if you were doing a quick search on how to eat while you are pregnant, you might come across this article, from Women's Health Care Topics.

Aside from some helpful tips like "The key is making healthy and nourishing selections" (Gee, thanks!), the article also offers two pieces of advice: "you should add roughly 300 extra calories to your diet each day during the second and third trimesters." and "Most women focus too much on calories when eating during pregnancy. Pregnancy is not the time to count calories."


I should be sure to add 300 extra calories (not more and not less), but I should somehow do this without counting them?

Unfortunately, this kind of self-contradictory advice is everywhere when you research pregnancy topics. Pregnancy eating may be the biggest minefield that you will enter before the baby is born. You are supposed to meet (but not exceed) a very particular profile of nutrients, keep a particular calorie count, gain a very specific amount of weight over the course of nine months, and be sure not to become overweight,  because then you will put your baby at risk, but make sure you gain enough, or else you will put your baby at risk. But don't count calories, and for heaven's sake don't worry about it too much, or else (you guessed it) you will put your baby at risk.

The take-home message for this exercise is this: when it comes to pregnancy eating, carefully monitor your Google usage along with your portion size.

Friday, December 17, 2010

#1 Your baby's poo shouldn't stink

For our first-ever post highlighting a bit of ridiculous guilt-mongering rhetoric aimed at mothers, I will be examining a section from the Dr. Sears website. I use this website (and the printed reference The Baby Book) as a guide for the more practical aspects of parenting (medication dosage, when to worry about a rash, etc.). But this otherwise level-headed resource also dispenses a bit of ridiculous rhetoric when it comes to breastfeeding, providing a mom who is having trouble with nursing a New and Exciting way to feel even guiltier.  In summary: it's your fault if your baby's poo stinks.  That's right:

Unlike the stinky stools of a formula-fed baby, the stools of a breastfed infant have a less offensive buttermilk-like odor. Changing the diaper of a breastfed infant is not an unpleasant task--which is fortunate, because most breastfed babies have several bowel movements a day. When the baby looks at the face of the diaper-changing caregiver and sees happiness rather than disgust, he picks up a good message about himself - perhaps a perk for building self-esteem. 

Quote from:

That's right -- if you cause your baby's poo to stink because of your own selfish decision to feed him or her formula, your own disgust at the smell of this poo could affect the healthy development of your child's self-esteem.

Feeling guilty yet? Let's continue...

"Changing the diaper of a breastfed infant is not an unpleasant task--which is fortunate."

In other words, if you are the kind of good mother who breastfeeds, that beneficence will extend to a natural enjoyment of all motherly tasks, including but not limited to cleaning feces off of your baby's private parts.

I'm ready to call BS; how about you?

Send me your ridiculous Mom-Guilt rhetoric to

Cheers and guilt-free parenting,


Welcome to the Guilted Age

Greetings to mothers, parents, and thinkers everywhere. I am starting this blog to highlight, examine, and critique the subtle and not-so-subtle rhetoric of guilt that is presented to mothers in US culture. To start I will be posting once a week. When you find an example of ridiculous, guilt-mongering rhetoric aimed at mothers, send it to me at Let the rhetorical analysis begin!