International Women’s Day: An opportunity to reflect on expectant mothers

International Women’s Day: An opportunity to reflect on expectant mothers

Tuesday 8 March 2016


Society is creating almost unbearable pressure on mothers to produce the “perfect” pregnancy which is having serious impacts on their health, compromising the enjoyment of a unique and special time in their life, Australian Medical Association (WA) President Dr Michael Gannon said on International Women’s Day.


“Many mothers are unfortunately becoming anxious about having to produce the perfect pregnancy – no delay in conceiving, no complaining of tiredness or back pain, staying on in their job until very late in their pregnancy, running a household including caring for any existing children, feeling the pressure to decline pain relief in labour, and successfully breast feeding until their child is weaned,” he said.


“To this, I could add that people then say that mothers should do all this while always maintaining a perfect smile and not putting on too much weight!


“I see mothers every day who believe that they have to be perfect and that their families and society as a whole are not just watching them, but judging them.”


“This sort of pressure can, and does, seriously affect the physical and mental health of mothers as well as the health of their babies.”

Dr Gannon, an Obstetrician, said people should think carefully about the impact these sort of pressures put on mothers.


“Many women require Caesarean sections or inductions of labour for medical reasons. Not all of them are particularly happy about it or comfortable with it. We should try to understand their disappointment, and not make them feel that they have “failed’’ at something.


“Society should lay off pregnant women. We should support them whenever possible, not criticise or advise them on how they should strive for everything.


“On the very day that we are celebrating International Women’s Day, we should remember the innate contribution mothers make to society every single day and the very existence of the human race, through pregnancy, childhood and beyond.


“There are enough pressures on mothers without these additional burdens created by society and even well-meaning relatives,” he said.

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"It is my hope that we can tackle the challenges our profession faces, united as one. If we dislike our working hours, our pay, gender inequality or low training opportunities, we can change these together. As a nurse in my previous life, I know that when a profession stands as one, people listen."
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