‘No space’ for the realities of motherhood amid societal expectations

A Sheffield maternity support group will host a special talk encouraging women to “make some noise” on identity in motherhood.

Clinical psychologist Dr Tina Mistry, an advocate and campaigner of South Asian Maternal Mental Health and founder of Brown Psychologist, will speak at the virtual session of Sheffield Maternity Cooperative  on March 22.

Dr Mistry said: “There’s this idea that women should be strong and seen as gentle and kind and warm and nurturing to others so there’s no space really for the reality of what it does feel like to be a mum really. It’s this sort of angelic idea of what a woman and mother should be and it’s all linked to patriarchy.

“All I want people to do is to ask more questions, be more curious and be able to hold onto the idea that this is not something that they will go through alone.”

The doctor emphasised the importance of everyday language being more accessible to encourage having everyday conversations about their struggles, triumphs and being able to reflect. She said a beauty of the pandemic is that it has potentially given more time to allow people to think about what they’re experiencing.

Dr Mistry said: “If you think that what lockdown has done is it’s made us go inwards in many ways, you know we’re not accessing support services that we usually would have done, we’re not accessing our social networks as we may have done.

“Having space is what the Sheffield Maternity Cooperative are doing, it’s so important to just have discussions.”

The upcoming ‘Identity in Motherhood’ talk will be based around the roles that mothers’ assume, their own and other’s expectations of them and support they do and don’t receive from society.

Dr Mistry said that the lack of research and understanding from a South Asian perspective of motherhood encouraged her to speak up more about the feelings and experiences that they face and to get people thinking, talking and opening up ideas.

Dr Mistry said: “It’s not just totally out of our control that all of a sudden, we’ve become mothers and that’s it, it’s not all or nothing, there are parts of our identity that we could still hold on to.

“The more people that make noise about this particular phase in a woman’s life, it helps. We have to challenge this idea that a pill is going to solve it because it’s not.”


Written by Reanne Saagar

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