Stop shaming mums with this ridiculous talk of ‘brexting’

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Did anyone else read the headlines earlier this week lamenting mums who text while breastfeeding and find themselves wanting to shout “shut the f*** up” at the people who came up with this ridiculous theory?

As if we mums aren’t criticised enough for everything we do or don’t do, we’re now being told that if you’re on your phone while breastfeeding your baby, you could damage the mother-child bond and risk your child “becoming either anxiously attached to you or insecurely attached to you”.

And to prove what a heinous crime it is, the people at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center even coined a new term “brexting”, meaning breastfeeding while texting. Because obviously nothing is officially a “thing” until it has a made-up name suitable for the digital age.

I take their point that if you pay your child little or no attention, then yes, they might quite possibly develop attachment issues. But that in itself is a wider issue. To shame women who might possibly be struggling to find their feet as a mum, or who might be feeling lonely and anxious, or who just want some social interaction after singing nursery rhymes all day, is quite frankly damaging.

Just because you are on your smart phone while feeding your baby (whichever way you choose to feed your baby), it doesn’t mean you are going to miss the cues that baby is trying to make contact with you by noises or smiles, as the report suggests. It is possible to text with one hand and smile at your baby at the same time. And I don’t think I know a single mum who would ignore their baby’s cries because they were too busy liking photos on Facebook.

I breastfed all three of my babies for a year each. In the early days, my babies fed eight, 10, or even 12 times a day. During their growth spurts, they fed continually for a day or two. My first baby used to take around an hour for each feed. I spent a hell of a lot of time sat on the sofa nursing my babies.

My friends often call me a mumsy mum. By that, they mean I faithfully update the baby books with all my children’s milestones. I do messy crafts and even messier cooking with my kids. I sing songs and play games with them. We run round the house playing hide and seek. I am the one blubbing in the playground on their first day at school. Every day I remind myself how lucky I am. However, even for me, spending 12 hours a day, lovingly staring at the side of my baby’s head while feeding would have been too much.

Yes, I had moments when I loved to stroke their soft fuzzy hair while they fed. And yes, I used to trace my finger around their tiny ears, amazed at how small and perfect they were. I would gaze longingly at them, utterly amazed that I had grown this tiny being inside me and now here they were in the world.

But after about three minutes, I’d remember I hadn’t replied to my friend’s text from three days ago. Or I’d need to send some work emails. Or do the grocery shop, because we were running low on essentials and I’d rather get my shopping delivered when my children are in bed so I can go to baby group with them in the day. When you’re a mum you never have enough hours to get everything done. So what’s wrong with a little bit of multi-tasking?

But more than that. My iPhone was a real lifeline for me during those early days of motherhood. I was knackered, in a lot of physical discomfort after a difficult birth, pretty much house-bound due to heavy snow for about a month after my daughter was born, my husband was back in work within a week, I had two nasty bouts of mastitis in that first month, and I was at home with a tiny baby and no help. Messaging my amazing NCT friends while feeding my baby kept me sane. The very fact that they too were awake at all hours of the night reassured me that it was normal. We would answer each other’s questions about the contents of our babies’ nappies, feeding and sleeping patterns, and how many layers our babies should be wearing. Because most of us had no one else to ask. There were days when speaking to them online was the only conversation I had with anyone other than my husband. And they “got” things in a way that he didn’t. I genuinely don’t know how I would have got through the early days without their virtual company.

When my second and third babies came along, breastfeeding during the day would happen at soft-play, or in the park, or while helping a toddler have their lunch. Those night-time feeds were such indulgent me-time. Yes, I would use the experience to bond with my baby, because we didn’t have any other real one-to-one time, but I’d also catch up with what was going on with my friends in the real world via my phone. I’d order Christmas and birthday presents, because it was the only time I had to do it without two and then later three children in tow. I’d read the news, because I’ve been a journalist my entire professional life and I feel compelled to know what’s going on in the world, but don’t want to watch distressing headlines with my children around. I was quite sad when the night feeds stopped because I have three children and very little me-time and didn’t know when I would get to do all of that.

My phone would also keep me awake while my husband was lying next to me fast asleep. When you’ve been up six times already in a night, it’s really difficult to keep your eyes open while your baby silently feeds. I would have panics about falling asleep with my tiny baby on my breast and them suffocating – but my phone would help me stay alert.

My children are now 5¾, just turned four, and 18 months. Despite their terrible mummy spending so much time on her phone while feeding them, I can assure you they are perfectly okay.

And so dear mums who read my blog, you continue sending all the texts you need to while you’re feeding your baby. You keep on using nursing time to read those parenting articles that reassure you what you are are experiencing is normal. You continue having those grown up Facebook conversations during feed times with other parents that help keep you sane. You carry on doing your online shopping/paying bills/replying to emails while simultaneously feeding because it’s the only time of day you can get it done.

And you ignore those so-called experts who seem to have no idea what it’s like to be a parent in the modern world. Who seem to think that being on your phone means you can’t be attentive to your baby’s needs. Who continue to make mums feel bad about themselves by telling them everything they do or don’t do will damage their child. You’re doing a fab job at being a mum and don’t let their shameful headline-grabbing attempts at self-promotion tell you otherwise.

What do you think of all the “brexting” headlines? Do have your say in the comments below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or by tweeting me on @cardiffmummy

20 Comments to Stop shaming mums with this ridiculous talk of ‘brexting’

  1. Oh my god I am so fed up of all the judgmental shit that’s going on – be that breasting, breastfeeding, bottle feeding or whatever.. as long as baby is happy who the hell cares??

  2. Great post… and isn’t one of the benefits of breastfeeding, that it enables a more hands free position so that we can check our iPhones 😉 That being said, my husband is a bit of a phone radiation nazi and always makes me put the phone on aeroplane mode near the baba. But seriously, what is wrong with the world- people will look for anything to criticise parents!

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Yes, I agree with you that some people just seem desperate to want to criticise parents. There are far more important things they should be putting their energies into. x

  3. Yes, yes, yes! Without my smartphone I probably would have had aneroid breakdown by now. Little one is 12 weeks, older sister 5 years.

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Aw, I sometimes wonder what mums did before they had smart phones. Mine was a lifeline for me. x

  4. FFS I can’t believe some moron would come up with this.
    I agree with everything you’ve written very well put.
    There’s enough actual things for us to worry about without this made up nonsense!

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Yes, exactly! Every week we mums are bombarded with some new study about things we do or don’t do. I’m fed up of all the pressure. x

  5. Yes! Brilliant post!!!
    And us women are nothing of not fabulous multitaskers! How else are we supposed to feed babies, order groceries, earn a living, do the school run…and so on and on and on?!
    Every superhero has a tool to help them. Ours is our phones. We make miracles happen!

  6. I remember being told not to use my phone while feeding and to keep eye contact at all times with the baby, so I took that as gospel and got silently annoyed with people who wouldn’t keep eye contact with her when giving her a bottle.
    I soon realised that’s I was being silly, and started looking at my phone a lot more, because my baby would often fall asleep and I’d be looking at a sleeping baby and not making eye contact at all.
    I hate how all these so called experts are taking to parents to judge them all the time – we are already too hard on ourselves!
    Haven’t they got anything better to research?

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      All of my babies fed with their eyes closed for the first several months! Bit hard to keep eye contact when their eyes are not even open!
      Yes, I agree, there are far more important things they could be putting their energies into, rather than putting pressure on mums who are already under enough pressure as it is. x

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Thanks Laura. Glad you liked it. Just wish they’d leave us mummies alone and stop making is feel worried or guilty about things unnecessarily. x

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Exactly! Every week there’s a different thing we do or don’t do that we are being criticised for. It’s hard enough being a mum some days without all this added pressure too. x

  7. Oh dear…. I’m breastfeeding my daughter while writing this message!!! She’s asleep while feeding, she doesn’t even know I’m holding my phone, nor would she even see it if her eyes were open!! I wouldn’t be talking to her if she was feeding while awake because I wouldn’t want to disturb her. And I use my phone to browse during night feeds to keep me awake!!

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