Whether you’re bottle feeding or breastfeeding, using cloth or disposable nappies, working or staying at home, there’s always something someone will try to make you feel guilty about as a new mum.
Here’s a new one to add to the list: “brexting” – a brand new, made-up word to describe using your smartphone while you’re breastfeeding your bub.
Many new mums, feeding their babies around the clock, might be prone to checking Facebook or Instagram, or playing Candy Crush, or sending text messages while they are nursing.
However experts are warning that mothers who are preoccupied with their phones during breastfeeding might be missing important cues from their baby when it comes to feeding. They claim that baby might not be latching on properly, or that important mother and baby bonding that comes from eye contact being made during the act of breastfeeding is being hampered and could even cause long-term damage.
A psychologist specialising in maternal mental health from California, Dr Kateyine Kaeni, told The Sun newspaper recently that eye contact is important to build a secure bond.
“When babies are first born their vision is only basically from the breast to the mothers face. That’s as far as they can see. So babies do a lot of staring and bonding in that way.
“If baby is trying to make contact with you by noises or smiles and they can’t and they learn over time that they can’t rely on you to respond, it runs the risk of them becoming either anxiously attached to you or insecurely attached to you and they will ramp up their behavior until you pay attention,” she said.
She also claims a distraction like a smartphone could mean mums aren’t getting the cues that baby is full or still hungry, the latch isn’t secure or if they are having trouble swallowing.
On the other side of the coin, breastfeeding women who have found themselves sitting down and feeding for many hours a day have always found ways to entertain themselves.
Reading books and magazines, and watching television are ways women have been filling in time during breastfeeding for decades, and nobody has invented a term to beat them over the head with and suggest that their fixation on their reading or TV screen is going to cause long-term damage to their babies.
Being a brand new mother can be stressful and isolating. Social media can be a lifeline for a new mum, who feels stuck at home, to connect with family and friends – or even other new mums.
As with everything, it requires balance and moderation. Bonding with your baby happens whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, and yes this is important. But it’s also important to bond with your baby around the clock, not just during the act of feeding.
Experts are right to point out anything that COULD have an adverse affect on a baby’s well being. But at the same time they should also trust mothers’ abilities to exercise judgement and do the right thing by their own babies, to know when to put their phones down and pay close attention to their babies.