This week Mothers have been shamed for “Brexting” – using their smartphone while breastfeeding – because it interferes with bonding. Experts have stood up to fight back against the claim.
‘With my first born, I did all of that loving, staring-into-their eyes, as they feed thing.
‘But now I have twins I feel that I spend hours of my day breastfeeding them and occasionally need a distraction,’ she says.
‘Sometimes I read, sometimes I browse my phone and try to keep up with the latest news.
‘If you’re a new mum, it’s good to be attentive and constantly watch your baby as what a lot of people won’t tell you is that breastfeeding is hard – it’s hard to get right and hard to make sure they’re feeding properly.
‘But once you get the hang of it, a few weeks later, it gets boring. Basically all I do is look at my phone while breastfeeding the twins.’
The CEO of the Australian Breastfeeding Association, Rebecca Naylor, agrees that to catch up on your personal life while you breastfeed isn’t a step of self-indulgence too far, reports The Daily Mail.
‘It’s in fact all about balance,’ she says.
‘Sometimes breastfeeding will be a more intense process, and sometimes it will be less so.
‘Women are people and so inevitably they are not going to spent every single moment of feeding their child staring lovingly at them. Sometimes they’ll be distracted by their phones, by other toddlers or the TV; at other times they will be more focussed.
‘While it is true that breastfeeding is about more than just the nutrition – it is an emotional connection between mother and child – we have to be careful about putting too much pressure on mothers to be perfect.
‘One way one mother feeds their child will be different to how another feeds theirs.’
Goodtoknow.co.uk spoke to Emma Pickett, Chair of the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers, to get her view on the issue of ‘Brexting’.
“Having a new baby can be an isolating time for a new mum”, begins Emma.
“It can feel like you are the only one struggling through this steep learning curve of feeding problems, sleep issues and worrying about this little new person who depends on you for everything. Many of us live away from our families and our phones are a portal into a world of friends, reassurance and knowledge.
“Brexting isn’t simply texting. Time on your phone is time with your Facebook group of mums sharing your challenges and successes, the article written on blocked ducts by the lactation consultant, the local Twitter account advertising the baby massage group. It’s also a door into a world beyond parenting: the local newspaper, the article on international events, a reminder of things that mattered to you before baby arrived. Your phone is a conversation, access to learning and a time to be you.
And you can do all this while sitting down and feeding your baby.
Would we say to the mother reading a novel, don’t do it when you are feeding your baby? I think some of the judgement comes from people who don’t realise that phones are more than just daftness but a chance for connection and knowledge and relief from loneliness.
“But like most things in life, there needs to be a balance. You are your baby’s first intimate relationship. You are the first face they stare into it. You are their first conversation. A newborn’s vision allows them to focus on the distance between them and your face when they are at the breast. A bit of a shame if that period is instead spent focusing on the grey rectangle of the back of your smartphone. The world of the phone is so appealing, it’s easy to get sucked into it and eventually your baby may just not bother to look for eye contact or consider a breastfeed a chance to look at your face and read your expression. New mums need to take those moments too. They are slow-moving, unexciting in many ways and come with a less obvious ‘like’ button, but they matter. Babies don’t understand why you don’t return their eye contact and instead are staring intently at something to one side.
Plus staring into your smartphone isn’t a great idea at night when artificial light (even the ones with the fancy ‘night time’ setting) could be affecting your sleep patterns.
“I would say to new mums: enjoy your phone, don’t feel you’ve got to justify using it, make the most of the connections to the world it gives you. But take some conscious time each day to give your baby your focus during a feed. It doesn’t need to be every minute of every feed but we don’t want time to pass and before you know what’s happened, your phone feels more important to your toddler than they do. Just find a balance. “
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