In the journey of mommy and baby, breastfeeding is a milestone. Breast milk contains all the essentials for a baby to grow strong and healthy. It contains antibodies and nutrients that help protect a baby from many illnesses.
Besides giving your precious one all the nutrients they need, breastfeeding is also a powerful way to bond with your baby. Your first try at breastfeeding might have led you to focus and really be present in nursing. But after some time, you will get the hang of it, and your baby will learn to latch properly. Par for the course, you will settle well into the breastfeeding routine.
Now here’s the problem. Perhaps out of boredom, or getting used to the routine, some mothers use their mobile phones while breastfeeding. Some may want to pass the time so they scroll on social media. While some mothers may need to catch up on work.
It’s understandable why we’d want to reach our phones while breastfeeding, but today we’re going to learn why doing so isn’t the best move for you AND your baby.
Why Using The Phone While Breastfeeding Is Discouraged
This may be the first time you’ve heard of the term ‘Brexting’. It’s breastfeeding and texting at the same time. There’s no denying how our phones and other gadgets have become an essential part of our life. Our phones, especially, have become our portal to the outside world. The problem is, when we become too focused on our little screen, we begin to miss out on what matters most in front of us. In this case, it is being fully present with our children while they are breastfed. Here’s why you should stop brexting:
- It hinders eye contact.
How important is eye contact? This study concludes that “successful latching-on is influenced by maternal physical movements and efficient gazing behaviors.”
Eye contact between a mother and baby during breastfeeding strengthens your maternal attachment. Most babies like eye contact while they are feeding. If you are constantly on your phone, you will miss out on this moment.
Research also shows that eye gaze syncs your brain waves with your baby’s. This is an important step in improving communication later on in your child’s adulthood.
- It can cause your baby to struggle for attention.
Have you heard of the ‘still face’ experiment? Here’s something to ponder if you find yourself distracted on your phone while breastfeeding: “Humans are born ready for connection. The way we are parented has long-term and ongoing effects on our functioning. The effects of our early life can trigger a cascade of changes genetically, cognitively, socially, and physically which can have either positive or negative lifelong consequences.”
(Read the rest of the article, here)
Our toddlers can feel the shift in attention. They know when their parents have blank expressions on their faces. Here’s another excerpt from the same article, citing the ‘still face’ experiment:
“She [the baby] attempts to use all of her abilities to initiate a response from her mother. Babies are limited in the types of sounds and movements they can do, and you see the baby in this video using a range of ways to try to get her mother’s attention. She looks around the room, she tries smiling, then pointing. As her attempts to connect continue to be ignored by her mother you see her start to show distress and frustration. She begins crying and then screeching… This baby also bites her own hand which may be an attempt at self-comfort. This baby dissolves emotionally and it can be uncomfortable to watch her distress. Towards the end of the experiment, the baby becomes withdrawn and hopeless no longer attempting to get her mother’s attention.”
- It distracts you.
That’s the point of having a phone. It can distract you. But breastfeeding while on your phone can lead you to miss out on some small cues from your baby. You may not notice that your baby is having trouble getting adequate milk. Or you may not know that your baby is already choking from the milk. Mamas, this moment in your time will fly fast. You won’t be able to do this when your baby grows up, so make sure to enjoy this without any distractions.
- It puts your baby at risk of radiation exposure.
If the reasons above haven’t convinced you yet, this one just might. Mobile phones and other gadgets do emit radiation. Multiple studies point out the potential harm from Microwave Radiation (MWR) given off by wireless devices.
According to this study, children face a greater risk for bodily damage. Children have been shown to absorb more MWR than adults.
“One found that the brain tissue of children absorbed about two times more MWR than that of adults, and other studies have reported that the bone marrow of children absorbs 10 times more MWR than that of adults.”
Read more here: Web MD
If you are reading this while breastfeeding, it’s best to turn off your phone for a while and come back when you are done. These are just a few reasons why new moms should start limiting their mobile phone use. There are consequences for infant cognitive, emotional, and social development. It’s hard to miss out on this important stage and affect your relationship with your child later in life.
Strengthen your bond and stay present!
For further personal education, read:
“The Relationship Between Maternal Smartphone Use, Physiological Responses, and Gaze Patterns During Breastfeeding and Face-To-Face Interactions With Infant.“
Learn more about latching, nursing and more in our comprehensive class Breastfeeding 101.