Laura Byrne had only been a mum for two weeks when a family photo on Instagram went viral for the wrong reasons.
“Marlie Mae was only a couple of weeks old when we ventured out for a family lunch at Icebergs in Bondi,” the host of Mamamia’s new podcast Me After You shares.
“After we finished eating, someone took a photo of us as a new family of three on the balcony. I thought it was a lovely photo of us looking like tired but happy new parents and I barely gave it any thought before putting on social media.”
Almost as soon as Laura uploaded it to her Instagram feed, a follower commented about the ‘smoking area’ sign positioned just behind them.
“At first the comments were funny; referencing the fact we had taken our brand new baby into a smoking area. There had been no one else out on the balcony at the time and I hadn’t even noticed the sign. I responded to the first few, but quite quickly the comments started getting more and more pointed.”
What began as a photo capturing a few seconds in Laura’s new family life spiralled into an Instagram ‘pile on’ as the criticism mounted.
“Women were writing how ‘irresponsible’ I was for taking my new baby into a smoking area and shaming me for being a bad mother. I felt deflated and overwhelmed. I was just trying to do the best I could as a new mum, which is why it felt so hurtful.”
The comments and subsequent media coverage made her upset, she shares, but as time passed, Laura realised that she actually shouldn’t feel ashamed.
“Social media opinions are given so freely and are not always wanted or warranted...
“I find it so interesting that people are quick to assume the worst too. It was simply a photo capturing a few seconds in our life and I actually wasn’t doing anything wrong.”
Laura chats to other mums about the reality of life after kids on the Me After You podcast. Post continues below.