How do we support other moms rather than shaming them, and how do professionals provide education without shaming moms. Let’s chat about it!
Today’s guest is Jen Hamilton. Jen found accidental social media fame from sharing the hilarious, vulnerable, and real parts of being a mom, being a wife, and being a nurse. Since joining Tiktok at the beginning of the pandemic, she has now accumulated almost 2 million followers ok Tiktok. She is a labor and delivery nurse in North Carolina and is married to her OR nurse husband, Brian. They have 2 boys who are 9 and 5 who provide her with plenty of funny stories to share.
Big thanks to our sponsor Family Routines — if you’re ready to get your family on track, it is the class for you!
In this episode
How we see mom shaming on social media vs real life.
How we can see education as mom shaming
How mom shaming happens by the “shamer” and the “shame-ee”
How we can portray ourselves to not shame other moms.
Other things that might interest you
Producer: Drew Erickson
Check out my other parenting podcasts:
[00:00:00.130] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, guys, welcome to the Pulling Curls Podcast. Today on episode 147, we are talking about mom shaming. It’s a hot topic. I don’t know why, but let’s untangle it.
[00:00:20.490] – Hilary Erickson
Hi, I’m Hilary Erickson, the curly-head behind the Pulling Curls Podcast, where we untangle pregnancy, parenting, home, and even travel. We know there’s no right answer for every family, but hopefully we can spark some ideas that will work for yours. Life’s tangled, just like my hair.
[00:00:42.670] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, guys, before we get started, just subscribe. It’s so easy. I know you have a favorite podcast player. Just tap on it, find the Pulling Curls Podcast, and then hit subscribe.
[00:00:53.240] – Hilary Erickson
I met today’s guest on Tik Tok. I bet a lot of you know her on there where she swaddled a chicken, which actually scared the bejesus out of me. But that’s a podcast for another day. She has been a nurse for like ten years, but has done labor and delivery for four years. We are obviously kindred spirits. I want to introduce today’s guest, Jen Hamilton.
[00:01:17.510] – Hilary Erickson
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[00:01:54.510] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, Jen, welcome to the Pulling Curls Podcast.
[00:01:57.000] – Jen Hamilton
Hello, Hilary. Thank you for having me.
[00:01:59.120] – Hilary Erickson
Guys, we have a fun and yet also painful subject today.
[00:02:03.330] – Jen Hamilton
So painful. It depends on what side you’re on of this, but yes, so painful.
[00:02:08.910] – Hilary Erickson
Ugh, Tiktok. Tiktok makes it so much fun, especially for people who try to educate. I think so. Jen, have you seen mom shaming on TikTok? Actual straight up mom shaming?
[00:02:18.880] – Jen Hamilton
100 million%, 100 million times. Also. It’s everywhere.
[00:02:23.970] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, actually. Okay. Do you see it in real life? Because we both have kids.
[00:02:27.600] – Jen Hamilton
Absolutely. Oh, my goodness. Friends, family.
[00:02:32.110] – Hilary Erickson
But oh, yeah, I definitely see it more on TikTok because people are so.
[00:02:35.820] – Jen Hamilton
Much more likely to say things when they don’t have to say it to your real face, you know what I’m saying? Like, people get confidence that they would not have in real life for sure, unfortunately.
[00:02:48.460] – Hilary Erickson
Also fortunately, in some ways, there is a slight benefit to that. Yeah. So I’ve definitely seen people shame. Whenever any of my influencer friends show a baby in a car seat, I’m like, oh, don’t do it. Just don’t use it.
[00:03:04.770] – Jen Hamilton
It doesn’t matter what your car seat looks. There’s going to be something. There’s definitely going to be something. And I’ve definitely seen some things that. Yeah, sure. We need to talk about it. But it’s a very sensitive subject for a lot of people.
[00:03:17.140] – Hilary Erickson
But I will say that when people come at you with the car Seattle, it is like your Britney holding your baby on your lap. Do you see the gap there?
[00:03:27.790] – Jen Hamilton
Yes, absolutely. I can’t believe that you would even dare to put your child in. Oh, yeah, absolutely.
[00:03:33.420] – Hilary Erickson
So much danger with the car seat.
[00:03:35.440] – Jen Hamilton
[00:03:36.110] – Hilary Erickson
Okay. Have people ever told you your mom shamed?
[00:03:38.690] – Jen Hamilton
I don’t think I’ve ever been told that I’ve mom shamed. I feel like I’m so much of just a mess in general that I don’t know that people would ever see me as like doing something or trying to act like I’m knowing more. I don’t know. I don’t think I have. If I have emailed me, I don’t think that I have.
[00:04:01.030] – Hilary Erickson
I definitely get called out when I talk about the ABCs of safe sleep. People are always like, why are you sleepers? And I have a huge safe sleep. We had a mom who suffocated her child. And ever since then, I’m a huge sleep advocate. But I also understand that you are likely going to fall asleep at some point holding your baby.
[00:04:20.870] – Jen Hamilton
Yes. And now that you say that, like if I’m talking about the importance of vitamin K or something like that. Oh, man, how dare I? Yeah, there’s definitely some of that for sure.
[00:04:33.130] – Hilary Erickson
It is hard. And I say this in my prenatal class that people are going to fall asleep holding the baby. So you need to have a plan. And then when it happens, you need to say never again. Like, this is never going to happen again. This is my one time and try and have some safety in the area that you are feeding the baby, all those different kinds of things. But at the same point, you will always hear me baby alone on their back in a crib or bassinet or whatever.
[00:04:56.960] – Jen Hamilton
And, you know, Hilary, it’s those things that we have personal experience with that are the things that we’re most passionate about. Like, I had to go down to the emergency Department one time to do molds on a baby who had well, he was like two, but he had passed away from ingesting a button battery. So that’s something that I’m really passionate about and making sure that people know don’t use these toys because these come in children’s toys. And ingesting a button battery can be and is fatal. So just like you had the experience with a mom falling asleep with her baby and having a really bad outcome, a lot of times the people who get called out for shaving on something that is something that they may try to be educating about is often because they’ve had a really bad experience.
[00:05:46.570] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. And I have similar things to backup cameras and Jacuzzi covers for similar reasons. Yeah. I think especially as the nurses, we have seen so many worst case scenarios because of our job, we tend to get really passionate when we’re educating on stuff, even though just like most often these aren’t going to be problematic, most often you can go sleep and it won’t be problematic.
[00:06:08.280] – Jen Hamilton
[00:06:09.570] – Hilary Erickson
And the problem is my TikTok channel is pretty much just all educational. So I think a lot of people think, oh, she’s shaming me because she’s educating that way. And I think some people feel like that when they go to the pediatrician and they’re asking them, like, what do you feed your baby? When really they just want to know.
[00:06:24.290] – Jen Hamilton
Yeah, exactly. And I had a time where we asked that question. We had a really sick baby get brought into the Er. Like, this was years and years ago, but this kid was septic, super sick. And I was trying to figure out what’s going on. And I was like, so what are you feeding your baby? And this kid is like three months old and they’re like milk. And I was like, what does this mean? Like, what is this milk? Tell me this milk. And they were feeding the baby watered down cow’s milk at three months old. That was only part of the problem. But yeah, us asking questions is not trying to shame at all. For instance, like all of the admission questions that you go through, one of the questions that we ask is, do you participate in any community resources, like food stamps or something? I hope that nobody who I’m asking that too thinks that I’m, like trying to shame them because there’s so many questions that we just need to know to be able to help you better.
[00:07:20.440] – Hilary Erickson
Yes. Yeah. But it can feel shaming, I will say. So I don’t get any breast milk. And on my third baby, the hospital was very baby friendly. Woke me up at 02:00 A.m. To stop me fill out the form about how my child would likely die because I wasn’t going to breastfeed it 02:00 A.m. After you had a baby. It basically was that I’m a bad mom form.
[00:07:39.320] – Jen Hamilton
[00:07:39.710] – Hilary Erickson
And I knew what the form was, but it still felt there was shame. Renee Brown, I was filled with shame.
[00:07:45.880] – Jen Hamilton
She was filled with shame. And I’m sorry about that. I hear lots of stories about that, especially with the breastfeeding stuff. Because baby friendly hospitals are not always new Mama friendly. No, because there’s a lot of emotions and it’s hard to be a brand new mom. And to add on the extra stress of like, we need you to sign this form saying that you will accept liability, that you’re hurting your baby.
[00:08:11.010] – Hilary Erickson
[00:08:11.350] – Jen Hamilton
By giving them formula, whatever.
[00:08:13.160] – Hilary Erickson
I was going to hurt them more if I didn’t feed them at all. Where’s that consent form?
[00:08:17.740] – Jen Hamilton
Right, Where’s that one? I haven’t seen that one yet.
[00:08:20.920] – Hilary Erickson
And I will say as a new mom. Everything almost feels shaming. Your mother in law comes over and just, like, makes one tiny comment and you’re like, I believe she said that. That really hurt my feelings. Your feelings are everywhere. So it would be impossible not to hurt a feeling.
[00:08:37.070] – Jen Hamilton
Yeah. Even if it’s just like a face or like a pregnant pause whenever they enter your house, your brain is like, what is she thinking about me? She’s thinking I’m a bad mom because I have laundry, that I have a bullet.
[00:08:51.700] – Hilary Erickson
Oh, yeah. Some of it is definitely inside us. So here’s the big question. How do we educate without people feeling shame? I mean, some of that has to be on the receiving end, because hopefully people who follow us on these accounts understand that we really are there to just educate on best practices. And they are likely not ones that we follow all the time.
[00:09:14.100] – Jen Hamilton
Right, right, exactly. I saw a beautiful example of this yesterday. I don’t know if you follow Beach Gym.
[00:09:21.160] – Hilary Erickson
Oh, yeah. On the pediatric Er nurse or doctor.
[00:09:24.880] – Jen Hamilton
[00:09:25.250] – Hilary Erickson
[00:09:25.850] – Jen Hamilton
Er doctor. Yes. I’m sure that a lot of people have seen this particular person on the TikTok, and I’m not going to say her name or give her any more exposure, but there’s a person on TikTok who is very vocal, so loud and so wrong. You know what I’m saying? Like that kind of person who’s giving medical advice for mothers who has zero credentials to do so. And she had made a video about vitamin K and how it’s not necessary. And so Beach Gym had done a response video. Very respectful, but just giving the actual evidence and science behind it. And I was like, Chef kiss beautiful. Because that’s how we should be doing it all the time. Not like you’re stupid. Where’s your education? But it is okay to explain things, but I think it’s less like needing anecdote there was one time that I was part of this thing and this baby died. It’s more just showing the numbers, the evidence.
[00:10:32.990] – Hilary Erickson
[00:10:33.590] – Jen Hamilton
And there’s a lot of times that people are like, well, it’s only 1% or whatever. Do you know how many that is? Those are people.
[00:10:42.540] – Hilary Erickson
One kid in your grade level not there, like at school.
[00:10:45.600] – Jen Hamilton
Exactly. She is lovely, wonderful person, and a great example of how we can educate without feeling like we’re degrading people. Yeah.
[00:10:58.540] – Hilary Erickson
I will say she also shows that she’s a mom who suffers from many mom things also. And I probably don’t show that because I don’t have a newborn. I mean, I’m not sad about it because newborns are hard.
[00:11:08.830] – Jen Hamilton
[00:11:09.850] – Hilary Erickson
I never am. Just like, hey, I fell asleep last night. I can’t say that. I can say that I did.
[00:11:16.210] – Jen Hamilton
Yeah, exactly. And I think that on my TikTok specifically, I’m very open about all of my shortcomings in my life. So if we are only portraying ourselves to be perfect in all ways. It’s harder for people to accept advice from us because it doesn’t feel, I guess, real. I saw a video, I think it was two weeks ago of a mom saying, basically, if your house isn’t clean, you’re a bad mom, like you’re abusing your children if your house is not clean. Which is so funny to me because I run an organization called Hotmaft Express.
[00:11:55.880] – Hilary Erickson
Yes. Which is amazing.
[00:11:57.280] – Jen Hamilton
Oh, well, thank you so much. I love hearing that. So the way it works is that we as a group of moms, go in and rescue other moms from the things that are overwhelming to them. So, like dishes, laundry organization, just giving them a reset to be able to move forward in their lives. So most recently, we helped a mom who’s in liver failure. She couldn’t get her energy up, and she has reasons to not feel so great. But we’ve also helped mom with depression and anxiety and just life stuff that’s happened. But those are wonderful, absolutely wonderful mothers who want so desperately for their children to be in a really nice environment and they know to ask for help. But to say that if you don’t have a clean house like you’re a bad mom.
[00:12:41.660] – Hilary Erickson
Come on. How many people have we seen that do have a clean house that are bad moms?
[00:12:46.390] – Jen Hamilton
Right. That is a great point. That is a great point.
[00:12:49.720] – Hilary Erickson
[00:12:49.920] – Jen Hamilton
Let’s look at the opposite of that for sure.
[00:12:51.780] – Hilary Erickson
And I will say because I have teens, I have one that’s graduating College this year. So I have older kids. And I will say no one at the high school is mom shaming each other. We are literally just like, it’s amazing your kids are alive getting through it.
[00:13:05.520] – Jen Hamilton
Yeah. Good one.
[00:13:06.760] – Hilary Erickson
Does anyone have any ideas on how to make teaching a kid how to drive a car more painful? And we’re all like, no, it’s just going to be the absolute worst. I wish they made an Epidural for that. Good luck. Exactly.
[00:13:17.070] – Jen Hamilton
Epidural for that. Absolutely. Yeah. If having an absolute wreck of a house makes you a good mother, I am the best.
[00:13:25.010] – Hilary Erickson
[00:13:26.500] – Jen Hamilton
[00:13:27.300] – Hilary Erickson
I wish that I could, like, turn.
[00:13:29.720] – Jen Hamilton
I know that the people on the world won’t be able to see the man it is looking snazzy in this house right now.
[00:13:36.970] – Hilary Erickson
Kids are going to make it so that things are lived in.
[00:13:40.550] – Jen Hamilton
Yeah, exactly. And I choose to not spend my entire life chasing that, like trying to redo what they’ve undone.
[00:13:49.990] – Hilary Erickson
I think so much of it is what is in your mind. So if I want to tidy up the house because it’s driving me insane, then I will. But, yeah, I don’t care what other people’s houses look like, because I know I have a little bit of a neuroses about things being put away. I think that’s part of me, it probably makes me a worse mom. Honestly.
[00:14:08.950] – Jen Hamilton
At least you’re teaching your kids though, like to be maybe cleaner people in their own lives.
[00:14:15.370] – Hilary Erickson
That’s a no no. It’s a hard pass.
[00:14:17.250] – Jen Hamilton
Not at all.
[00:14:17.700] – Hilary Erickson
I’m constantly like, daughter, if you had an emergency during the middle of the night, I don’t know how I would get to you. I feel like, let’s watch some hoarders together.
[00:14:27.720] – Jen Hamilton
[00:14:28.740] – Hilary Erickson
[00:14:29.190] – Jen Hamilton
That helps me feel better about myself because quarters I used to watch to get motivation to clean. And now it just is like, it could be worse. That’s what I say. It could be worse.
[00:14:38.130] – Hilary Erickson
This could be me.
[00:14:39.090] – Jen Hamilton
[00:14:39.740] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. So I think the main thing, if I were to sum this up, is try not to get your feelings or I don’t think most people are trying to shame, especially when it’s like a thought out thing on Instagram. Some are don’t get me wrong.
[00:14:51.200] – Jen Hamilton
Some are 100% there, definitely.
[00:14:53.300] – Hilary Erickson
But I think somebody if they’re just like trying to educate you and there’s somebody that has credentials because I think you need to watch that.
[00:14:59.180] – Jen Hamilton
[00:15:00.610] – Hilary Erickson
Just take it as like, okay, they’re just giving me some options and some data, and I’m just going to figure this out for myself because that’s literally how we all are.
[00:15:08.840] – Jen Hamilton
And you’ll hear from both sides of people saying, do your own research. That’s something I hear a lot when I’m seeing videos from people who are advocating for things that we know to be unsafe due to evidence. They’ll say, do your own research. And I totally would just say that that’s absolutely a great thing to do. But whenever you’re doing your own research, you need to be doing deep dives into people who actually have credentials and can show you the evidence of what they’re talking about by science. You know what I’m saying? And not anecdote and not like I did this and my kids fine. But hard evidence from credentialed and respectable people who are experts in their field.
[00:15:55.530] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, it is hard. I get it.
[00:15:57.320] – Jen Hamilton
Because it’s hard and not like mommy bloggers and stuff.
[00:16:00.520] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, it is hard. And also finding a doctor that is kind of on what you want. I want a very conservative pediatrician that’s not going to freak out a small thing. That’s the kind of pediatrician I want. Some people want a pediatrician that’s going to be super aggressive no matter, like, if they see anything that deviates.
[00:16:16.240] – Jen Hamilton
Right, right. Yeah. Because it makes them feel better. Because you’re being able to pass off that anxiety that you have onto someone and be like, okay, this person is going to figure it out for me. But as nurses too, my kids know we don’t go to the Er unless we’re dying. So I’m with you. I’m very conservative as far as if the doctor doesn’t say we need it and we’re not going to need it.
[00:16:38.660] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. Or we’ll check back in or give me a prescription I can fill on my own. Thank you. Give me a forever prescription that I could just have at my house.
[00:16:45.350] – Jen Hamilton
Exactly. I know one of my least favorite things is having to go back to the doctor. For instance, I take Celexa and it has no refill. At some point, they make you go back. I don’t want to go back. I’m fine.
[00:17:03.790] – Hilary Erickson
Telemedicine is probably the best thing ever. Right? Like, just a quick Zoom call. Like, look at me. I’m doing fine. Here’s today’s paper. This isn’t prerecorded.
[00:17:11.610] – Jen Hamilton
Exactly. Yeah. And the doctor, that is my doctor. I work with him. I want to be like, can’t you just, like, you see me? I’m fine. He said it doesn’t work that way.
[00:17:21.370] – Hilary Erickson
[00:17:22.580] – Jen Hamilton
I know. We love them. We love them.
[00:17:25.780] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. And also, if you are consistently feeling shamed by somebody, just stop following them. Block them. I feel like on TikTok, blocking has a bad connotation. I got, like, reamed once because I just finally blocked somebody. I just didn’t want to hear from her anymore. And honestly, on the other social media, I don’t feel like it’s that big of a deal. Probably because you can mute people. Yeah.
[00:17:44.900] – Jen Hamilton
It’s really odd, but I had a.
[00:17:46.880] – Hilary Erickson
Nursing professor just Ream me a new one for finally just blocking her because I was like, I can’t keep dealing with you and your professional ideation. Yeah.
[00:17:55.900] – Jen Hamilton
And take an inventory of how you feel when you are consuming someone’s content. And if it makes you feel educated, empowered, appreciated, or loved, those are the kind of things that we want to feel about ourselves. If you’re feeling obviously shamed or not good enough for those kind of things, those are the people that you just need to cut them out. Because there’s plenty. There’s plenty of people who will serve you beautiful content on a platter that will give you all of all of the education with the love behind it. I can’t remember who said this. I feel like my mom told me that Lauren Daigle said it, but it has changed my life. So give people permission to misunderstand you. And I feel like in your own personal life, there’s plenty of people, maybe in your family or whatever, that are going to have thoughts about your home or your children or whatever. But being able to let people think whatever they want to think has really transformed the way that I do my own life. Right. Because you give so much energy to trying to make people happy and all that stuff. But when it comes to mom shaming, that has really been helpful to me.
[00:19:07.730] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah, I think that’s great advice. And also just like, be proud of what you’re trying to accomplish as a mom. Like, nobody has your specific kids. Nobody understands your specific circumstances. I mean, that’s the beauty of being a nurse. You really get to understand a specific person, and they’re specific. And you’re always like, yeah, what you did make sense. I understand why you fell asleep while you’re feeding the baby because you hadn’t slept in seven years. Exactly.
[00:19:30.700] – Jen Hamilton
There’s really only two things that I think are non negotiables whenever it comes to your kids that they are safe and that they know that they’re loved. I think those are the only two things that all the other stuff is just fluff. But if you have kids that grow up and know that they are loved and appreciated, man, you’ve done an incredible job.
[00:19:49.480] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. And we all get into habits or do things that aren’t great for our kids.
[00:19:53.650] – Jen Hamilton
[00:19:54.270] – Hilary Erickson
I think so many people are, like, breastfeeding such a big decision. And looking back, I’m like it was such a small decision. There are so many worst decisions I made as a mom. So many.
[00:20:03.960] – Jen Hamilton
Oh, yeah, definitely. We all screw up. All of us screw up. And it’s just about how we like, there’s unsafe stuff that I did as a new mom that I found out was not great stuff, and I changed my habits. It’s like, know better, do better. So it’s just about keeping our kiddos safe and loved in this crazy world. Oh, my gosh. So crazy.
[00:20:27.270] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. And love each other. Like find those friends that are just like, isn’t that crazy what she said on TikTok. You are doing such a great job as a mom. Why don’t we say that to each other more often?
[00:20:38.670] – Jen Hamilton
[00:20:39.180] – Hilary Erickson
Instead of harping on where they might have made a mistake. Those aren’t your people. Find your people.
[00:20:45.060] – Jen Hamilton
Exactly. And if it is something that you say that’s truly life threatening that you’re seeing someone doing and you really think that something needs to be said, don’t just come out and say that you need to be praising people for the things that they are doing really well and not just when you need to have a conversation. We need to be lifting each other up every single day so that whenever if there is something that we do need to have a conversation about, they know that it’s coming from a place of love and that you already appreciate all the things that they do.
[00:21:13.340] – Hilary Erickson
Yeah. Because usually it’s just little tiny things that people end up getting shamed on. Really in the big picture of things. I know that, like breastfeeding or I guess car seat safety might seem like a big thing, but it really is a very small thing in the big picture long these kids are going to be troubling you.
[00:21:30.310] – Jen Hamilton
[00:21:31.750] – Hilary Erickson
So today’s challenge for everybody is to tell a mom what a great job she’s doing. Let’s stop the mom shaming.
[00:21:37.180] – Jen Hamilton
What a great challenge.
[00:21:38.060] – Hilary Erickson
Start the mom praising. I don’t know. Praise is kind of a weird word. Yeah.
[00:21:42.400] – Jen Hamilton
And check in on your buddies. Check in on your friends because motherhood is super lonely. And if you’re thinking about a mom today that you haven’t talked to in a while to see how she’s doing.
[00:21:51.510] – Hilary Erickson
Yes. Just send a text I think texting. I so often just say, hey, I was just thinking of you and how you fill it in how fun you are. I wish I could be with you today. I wish we could do lunch instead of being here with macaroni and cheese getting thrown at me.
[00:22:07.210] – Jen Hamilton
[00:22:07.760] – Hilary Erickson
All right, Jen, I think you do such a good job of that on TikTok so be sure and follow Jen Hamilton on TikTok.
[00:22:13.840] – Jen Hamilton
Thank you so much.
[00:22:14.760] – Hilary Erickson
She does a lot of good work so she will not shame you and if she is, it’s just a mistake.
[00:22:20.190] – Jen Hamilton
We’ll try not to. It’s a misunderstanding and email me and I’ll apologize.
[00:22:24.820] – Hilary Erickson
Thanks for coming on, Jen.
[00:22:26.020] – Jen Hamilton
All right. Thank you so much, Hilary.
[00:22:27.620] – Hilary Erickson
I hope you guys enjoyed this episode. I think we all need to remember that we are all really just doing our best and also the education isn’t mom shaming but I know that it can feel that way. But most of that, I really promise you, is coming from you, not me. Like I understand that we are just trying to do our best. Even in the hospital when I’m like, oh, man, we’ve got a train wreck here. I realize that she is still doing her best so we are all just trying so hard so let’s not shame each other and let’s not get our feelings hurt. This is talking to me as much as anyone else.
[00:22:58.160] – Hilary Erickson
Okay, next week’s episode is going to be with a doctor, where we are talking about things you might want to refuse in the hospital even though they’re like routine in the hospital. And then the week after that we were talking about strep throat because before I did labor and delivery, I did a lot of throat swabbing. So we’ll untangle it that week. Stay tuned.
[00:23:16.410] – Hilary Erickson
Thanks so much for joining us on today’s episode. We know you have lots of options for your ears and we are glad that you chose us. We drop episodes weekly and until next time, we hope you have a tangle free day.