A Calm Mom wrote recently, sharing an alarming story. She was at Target, calmly buying some baby formula, when she was accosted by a total stranger. This woman accused our fellow Calm Mom of being a “criminal” for putting chemicals in her baby’s body. Not surprisingly, this mom walked away from the scene in tears.
And, after the tears came the thoughts. Even though this mom had primarily breastfed her baby, she started to think:
“I am an awful mom.”
“I have put chemicals in my baby and done her harm.”
“I should have put more effort into nursing. Supplementing with formula is lazy.”
At TheCalmMom.com, we teach Calm Thinking. When thoughts like this occur, it is essential to take a step back and say, “WAIT A SECOND! Would I say this to my best friend or to my sister?” Other calming questions to pose are, “Is there another way to think about this situation?” and “Is there any evidence for these beliefs?”
The next step in Calm Thinking is to answer these questions. I am quite sure that our Calm Mom would NOT have told her sister of her best friend that she was a criminal for putting “chemicals” in her baby. A criminal is someone who neglects her baby, not someone who nurtures and loves her baby. When we ask whether there is any evidence that formula does harm to babies, the answer should be a resounding no. Although most health professionals agree that “breast is best,” it would be ridiculous to say that formula does harm. As for supplementing with formula being lazy, well, it would be hard for me to call a person lazy who has a full time job, a 2 year old, a newborn, and a house to take care of. Supplementing with formula might have allowed this mom to share feedings with her husband (good for their marriage and for mom’s sleep) and might have made her work life run more smoothly (pumping at work can be very complicated). As we all know, trying to do it all often results in a frazzled (in other words, a NOT calm) mom.
The last step in Calm Thinking is to come up with a Calming Statement to carry around in your mind if you are plagued by these same negative thoughts again. Here’s a good one for this situation:
“I make choices that are healthy and realistic for me and my family.”
Another Calming Statement might be:
“A lot more goes into being a great mom than what you feed your child.”
Admitedly, it is hard to work through all this Calm Thinking while you are in a stressful situation. If you are prone to negative thinking, carry around a notebook with you. Jot down your negative thoughts (yes, even in the middle of the formula aisle at Target) and when you get a minute, work it all out. The more you “boss back” your negative thoughts, the better you will get at it. As with most things, practice does makes perfect.
Write me with your new mom questions and concerns: firstname.lastname@example.org. I will address them on TheCalmMom.com blog in upcoming weeks.
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