Seven in 10 parents feel ‘judged’ on a regular basis – from how they chose to give birth, to how they now feed their child and the ways in which they entertain them.
A study of 2,000 parents of children aged 0-3 found mums and dads feel others form an opinion of them at least three times a week.
As a result, 56 per cent who feel intimidated by others’ views are now apprehensive about having more children.
But this pressure has a widespread impact and lasting consequences on both parents and their children, leaving 38 per cent feeling like they’re failing.
It also stops them from taking part in key activities with their child, such as going to developmental classes (51 per cent), according to the findings from C&G baby club.
Judgement was found to be highest during the first year of parenthood, with everything from their child’s diet (31 per cent) and the weaning process (26 per cent), to whether they let their child look at screens (25 per cent) being scrutinised.
But for some it starts even earlier with 31 per cent of parents seeking alternative conception methods claiming to have felt judged.
More than one in 10 (11 per cent) have felt the weight of people’s opinions during birth, and 25 per cent beyond the first year of parenthood.
As a result, C&G baby club launched its #LoveDontJudge campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the damaging effects of parental judgement and provide tips, impartial advice, and support through articles and a dedicated careline.
The brand has partnered with expectant parents Olivia and Alex Bowen, who have faced their fair share of judgement – both before being expectant parents and since - to support and help those that face parental criticism.
The couple have taken part in a content series which brings to life the judgemental comments parents receive, to raise awareness and end parental judgement before it starts.
TV personality, soon-to-be mum and campaign ambassador, Olivia Bowen, said: “The minute I became pregnant, it was like I was fair game – everything I ate, wore and did was heavily scrutinised and I began to feel like I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t.
“I’m no stranger to criticism, but the overwhelming amount of judgment I received was crushing.
“That is why Alex and I have joined forces with C&G baby club - to put a stop to parental judgement and ensure every parent gets the support they need.”
Being judged can impact your mental health
The study also revealed how the levels of judgement felt by new parents negatively impacts mental health for 71 per cent.
And, worryingly, it is stopping parents from being honest about how they feel and getting the help they need, with 63 per cent feeling unable to share their parental struggles.
While 53 per cent were reluctant to ask friends and family for advice.
It seems parents are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, with 11 per cent feeling judged for conceiving naturally ‘too soon’.
Others felt the pressure of outside opinions around the non-conventional methods they opted for, including IVF (12 per cent), surrogacy (11 per cent), sperm donors (12 per cent) and adoption (13 per cent).
The research, conducted via OnePoll, also revealed one in four soon-to-be mums have been given disparaging comments around their decision to work right up to their due date (24 per cent).
And 21 per cent have felt judged about the way they choose to give birth.
A third of those who delivered via a caesarean felt criticised for choosing the procedure (33 per cent), with 47 per cent were made to feel as though they had failed as a mother by not having a vaginal birth.
Whereas 28 per cent of those who chose pain relief, such as epidurals, felt they were judged for putting their own comfort over the health of their baby.
Being judged by others
It also emerged a third think judgement is felt most strongly from people they don’t even know (32 per cent), followed by eagle-eyed mothers-in-law (29 per cent), those they consider to be friends (23 per cent) and their own mothers (23 per cent).
Gurinder Bal, spokeswoman for C&G baby club, said: “We believe it’s time for parental judgement to stop.
“There is no such thing as ‘perfect parenting’ - everyone has their own journey, with their child’s health and happiness being the number one priority.
“Parents deserve support, no matter what their parenting path looks like or the choices they make.#
The #LoveDontJudge campaign aims to support on a whole range of topics – from guidance on exercising when pregnant and tips on weaning, to advice on how partners can support during labour in a dedicated Dads & Partners section.
Top 10 things parents feel judged for
1. Bump size (too small/too big)
2. Eating habits of child
3. Baby activity choices
4. Eating habits during pregnancy
5. Weight gain
6. Level of rest required during pregnancy
7. The weaning process
8. Level of exercise during pregnancy
9. Level of screen time for children
10. Child’s development