Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience. It’s a privilege mums have to be able to nourish and nurture their child, but even this loving and special act can be routine at times. And mums are master multi-taskers, so they often try to juggle several tasks, like reaching for their mobile phone while nursing to make the most of their time. But do mobile phone use and breastfeeding go together?
Mobile phone use and breastfeeding: Is it ever okay?
Though you might not be as dependent on your phone as others, there’s no denying that we live in an age when our mobile phones have become like an extra limb.
It’s how we connect with family and friends, share our daily lives and immerse ourselves in the experiences of others.
But being too glued to our mobile phones can cause us to miss out on the life experiences unfolding right in front of us.
Responding to texts or messages while breastfeeding — especially if they are urgent — is fine. Being so rapt in your phone screen that you no longer look at your baby while breastfeeding is another story.
Why mobile phone use and breastfeeding should not become a habit
It’s never right to shame mums, because like mum Anya Kamenetz wrote in TIME, using her phone while breastfeeding is something more of a necessity than a distraction. But it is still worth exploring how phone-distracted parenting while breastfeeding can be depriving mums of special moments.
1. Mobile phone use and breastfeeding interferes with eye contact
If you’re looking at your phone constantly while nursing, you could be missing out on good ol’ eye contact with your baby.
Past research has noted how eye contact, especially during the first six months of life, strengthens attachment between mother and child.
Previous studies have even found that maintaining eye contact with your baby boosts their future communication and learning skills. It puts mum and baby’s brains and even emotions “in sync.”
2. Mobile phone use and breastfeeding divides your attention
Because you’re distracted, you won’t notice your baby’s tiny cues.
“The advent of mobile technology means that parent-child exchanges are often fraught with unpredictable interruptions,” writes developmental expert Kathy Hirsh-Pasek in a research paper.
3. Mobile phone use and breastfeeding can cause your baby to struggle to be noticed
In an attempt to get your attention, your little one might try to babble or even pull your face towards them. Though these gestures are adorable, this can condition them to become more sensitive the next time around.
In fact, a past study called the “still face” experiment found that children notice their parents’ blank expressions. In the study, they found that babies whose parents don’t seem to acknowledge their bids for attention lash out. They seek to be noticed by other adults in a room. Their stress hormones peak and when this happens again weeks later, they’ll cry and panic even more quickly.
There are other risks, too, like radiation exposure and potentially problematic behavioural problems in the future. But what matters most is that mums take control of the mobile phone use, without letting it rob them of the joys of being truly in the moment throughout their motherhood journey.