parent opinion

Amy Schumer has broken the sacred rule of new motherhood: Only your baby matters.


There was an apology dressed up in a joke on Instagram today.

And inside that were a myriad of little pointed truths about modern motherhood.

Because today Amy Schumer posted a particularly modern kind of mum-mea-culpa to her socials. The image showed her sitting on a hotel bed, pumping milk, looking extremely tired.

Here it is:


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It was the photo that had to come after the one that preceded it 12 hours earlier – Schumer in a nice dress, onstage, mic in hand. Doing her job. Her caption was “I’m back!”, a reference to the fact that she gave birth, 15 days ago, to a son called Gene.


Here’s that one:


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A post shared by @amyschumer on

No doubt, there are women who will have looked at this image of Schumer onstage and felt completely rubbish. Women who are still wearing a surfboard maternity pad 15 days after having a baby. Women who are swollen and sore and can’t stop crying. Women with babies still in the ICU 15 days after birth. Or who are struggling to feed. Women who haven’t left the house yet, unsure how to wrangle this new life as a duo. Women who are completely overwhelmed.

Women who, 15 months after birth, are still struggling to connect with their former selves and her passions.


Those women are sick of seeing the realities of pregnancy and birth being airbrushed from the culture. Sick of the idea of a successful new mother being one for whom nothing has changed, except that now she has an adorable little mate to pose with in photos.

To those women, there’s no solace in comparing yourself to a wealthy comedian whose work entails getting up on stage for half an hour in front of a supportive crowd and telling jokes.

Read more: Here’s what 66 new mums looked like in the days after giving birth.

Amy Schumer likely has the kind of paid help and a support network that most “ordinary” new parents can only fantasise about.

Let’s all just get that out there and admit what really pisses a lot of other people off about seeing a woman “back at work” after baby.

Because a lot of the anger being directed at Amy Schumer and her stand-up show, or Meghan Markle and her photo call (because call that what you like, but really, it’s her job), or a thousand other women who weren’t perceived to be taking any ‘mat leave’, is that she is breaking a fundamental rule of new motherhood.

Whisper it: You’re not meant to care about work any more when you’ve had a baby.

You’re not meant to want to work.

meghan markle prince harry baby
Meghan and Harry with baby Archie. Image: Getty.

The way that the accepted narrative plays out is that women with babies only work because they have to. And many, many do have to. In America, in particular, where maternity benefits are rare as hen's teeth and the average time out of the workforce after childbirth is 12 weeks, women have to back to business at a discombobulating speed. Here in Australia, the majority of millennial mothers say that if they could afford to stay home for longer, they would. But they can't.

If a woman is privileged enough not to have to work, then the perceived wisdom is that she won't.

Being a mum is your new career - "the best job in the world" - and your KPIs involve gazing lovingly at your infant, sacrificing yourself to their every need daily, never sleeping and certainly not getting paid.

For some women, that's the genuine epiphany of parenthood. They never knew that would satisfy them, fill them up, and it does.


For others, they still want to do one of the major things that connects them to self - their job.

And if you can do that, like Amy Schumer can bloody well do that, then we should be celebrating it. Because one of the biggest struggles women have when they become a mum is the loss of self.

"I don't feel like me any more," is the mantra of the woman whose body has been taken over by a tiny other, and whose multi-layered life seems to have been resized to four walls and a feeding schedule.

Isolation is an enormous factor in post-natal depression. Pressure and comparison are others.

So we need at least a million different public models of how to be a mother, because there are at least a million ways to do it. And we're loosening the binds every day.

Imagine a world where the likes of Amy Schumer didn't feel the need to post to the "Mummy shamers", to prove that yes, she was still breastfeeding, yes, she is knackered and struggling too. Yes, she is one of us.

Imagine a world where the new mum crying on the couch wasn't being told to hustle, and the mum who wants to get back to the office and talk to some grown-ups is allowed to say that to her mothers' group without judgement.

A world where the priority is the mother's mental health and self-sacrifice isn't the measure of your maternal worth.

That world would smash Amy Schumer's comedy set on her best day.

If you had all the choice in the world, how much maternity leave would you take/have taken?