Weeks after having Marlie Mae, Laura Byrne posted a photo to Instagram. She was publicly shamed.

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. 


Laura has recently been on the receiving end of more ‘mum-shaming’ comments on Instagram that many parents will relate to.

“Whenever I post a photo of me carrying Marlie Mae in a baby carrier, I receive a few comments about it being positioned ‘too high’ or ‘too low’ and Matt has had similar feedback.

“A couple of weeks ago I was out for a walk with a friend of mine and Marlie Mae was with us in her pram. As a strong-willed toddler who refuses to wear shoes and socks, she pulled them off as we started our walk and I just chucked them in the pram. 

“Little did I know that the paparazzi were taking photos of our walk and the comments were all about what a bad mum I was for allowing Marlie Mae to have cold feet! 

“The thing is, I can’t win - if I had forced her to put her socks back on the photos would have shown me making Marlie Mae upset! I try not to take it too personally. These people don’t know me or what is best for my child.”

Laura confesses she does still experience feelings of insecurity, wondering if she is a good enough mum. 

“Becoming a parent is life changing and most of us are just figuring it out on the job. Some days we win and other days we make a crappy dinner and feel like we've fallen short. 

“The constant advice and feedback online can be daunting and doesn’t help. While people might be trying to pass on well-meaning tips, I've learnt that you just can’t please everyone and nor should you try.


“The most important thing is that I know Marlie Mae is safe, loved and well cared for and really that’s all that matters.” 

Listen to Laura talk to other mums about life after becoming a parent on Mamamia’s newest podcast, Me After You.

Feature Image: Instagram@ladyandacat

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