Our brains love to solve problems. We aren’t content to just be okay with how things are. That’s boring. We need to always be searching for something more.
I often remind myself and the mothers I care for to stop problem solving and focus on what is good.
For me, this practice brings me back to the present moment where nothing is really wrong. In reality, right now, everything is okay. I observe, take note, and become curious about what is happening, but I don’t try to fix it right away or pass judgment.
I see this every day, multiple times a day, when I am helping mothers learn to breastfeed.
If a woman is feeling anxious, guilty, or like a failure while she is breastfeeding, chances are she isn’t allowing herself to be present in the current breastfeeding session. Rather, she is entering a past or future breastfeeding session.
Here are two examples that I almost guarantee you will be able to relate to:
Example #1: Baby is fussy at the breast.
Entering the past: I must have eaten something wrong. Oh, no. I am going to have to stop eating ice cream. I love ice cream! I don’t want to stop eating ice cream. But, if I don’t stop eating ice cream and my baby is fussy, I will feel like a terrible mother! I am a terrible mother for eating something that is making my baby fussy even though I have no idea what food item that may be!
Entering the future: I don’t make enough milk. I will never make enough milk. I will fail at breastfeeding. I think the baby is self-weaning.
Staying in the present: Hmm. That’s weird. She’s being fussy. I wonder what her problem is… –ppppffffft– Oh, she had to fart. Now she is better.
Example #2: Baby is looking to nurse 45 minutes after the last feeding.
Entering the past: She must have not had a big enough feeding last time. I don’t even know what a good feeding is! I thought that was a good feeding, but it wasn’t! I’m starving my baby!
Entering the future: Oh my gosh. She has to nurse again?! How will I ever go back to work if she nurses every 45 minutes? How will I ever have a life again? How will I ever get my hair done? I am so selfish for wanting to leave my baby and get my hair done. I am a terrible mother.
Staying in the present: Hmmm. Weird. She wants to nurse again. I am going to grab a glass of water and enjoy this time as an opportunity to watch another episode of Orange is the New Black.
Here’s a little peek into Katie Madden, the IBCLC’s, head:
When I am listening to a mother tell me about her breastfeeding situation, I don’t problem solve at first. I listen and ask questions and listen more. I observe an entire breastfeeding session. I take some measurements. I ask more questions. Only once I feel like I have all of the information do I begin to problem solve.
I would never try to problem solve based on one behavior at one breastfeeding session. Neither should you.
So, are you feeling shameful, blameful, or guilty? You are most likely in the past or future. Return to the present. Whenever you leave the present moment, you may feel like a terrible mother.
In the present moment, you are everything your baby needs. In the present moment, you are the perfect mother.