DNT TXT N BREASTFEED!!!

Breastfeeding. Young mother feeding cute newborn baby

OMG! OMG! OMG!

Growing ‘brexting’ habit of texting on phones while breastfeeding newborns is damaging relationships between mums and their babies.

The horror!!!

Breastfeeding promotion is, and has always been, about pressuring women to ignore their own needs and desires.

Health authorities are warning new mothers that scrolling on their phones while breastfeeding may be damaging bonding with their babies.

The modern day habit, which even earned the hashtag worthy name of ‘brexting,’ may be affecting children’s development and their relationships, experts say.

‘When a breastfeeding mum focuses on the phone… it can disrupt an important developmental process that relies on baby seeing and responding to mum’s face,’ Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Harry Nespolon told The Courier Mail.

That, Dr. Nespolon, is baloney! It’s yet another product of romanticizing mothering.

Wait, don’t all mammals gaze lovingly into their offspring’s eyes while nursing?

How about dogs?

Puppies dog suck up milk mother brown

I guess not! They nurse multiple pups at once and given the location of their teats, can easily nurse without even seeing their offspring, let alone looking them in the eye.

How about animals that give birth to only one at a time, like cows?

Calf suckling

The cow is looking into something of the calf’s, but it certainly isn’t its eyes.

Primates, our closest relatives must gaze lovingly into their infants’ eyes, right?

Mountain Gorilla Family in the Forest

Not exactly.

But certainly our indigenous ancestors spent their days gazing into the eyes of their babies, didn’t they?

Surely not.

Women have always been integral to the survival of small hunter-gatherer bands. They spent hours each day as the gatherers. They spent additional hours laboriously preparing food (grinding grain, for example) and may have sewn the clothing that allowed humans to expand into colder climates. In a very real sense, mothering was an interstitial task, taking place in the gaps while performing other tasks that required attention and energy or, in the case of breastfeeding, at the same time as other tasks.

Consider cradleboards:

Cradleboards were used during periods when the infant’s mother had to travel or otherwise be mobile for work … The cradleboard could be carried on the mother’s back … The cradleboard can also be stood up against a large tree or rock if the infant is small, or hung from a pole (as inside an Iroquois longhouse), or even hung from a sturdy tree branch…

Mothers literally immobilized their babies and propped them against a tree so they could get things done. Who knows what tasks they were performing while breastfeeding — sewing, grinding grain, etc.?

And that doesn’t even take into account their role in supervising older children.

What’s really going on here?

In the world of natural mothering, if you aren’t suffering, you aren’t doing it right. And that means constantly moving the goal posts.

You feed your baby formula? How can you live with yourself?

You breastfeed but supplement? Don’t you know even one bottle destroys the gut microbiome.

You breastfeed exclusively but pump? Milk from the pump may have different bacteria!

You breastfeed, never use formula, never pump, but look at your phone while breastfeeding? How could you?

Because the ugly thing about breastfeeding promotion is this:

From the inception of La Leche League, promoting breastfeeding has focused on restricting women, not what’s good for babies.

La Leche League was started with the express (religious) intent of promoting 1950’s style nuclear families with the father as breadwinner and head and the mother relegated to caregiver in second place. Breastfeeding was promoted explicitly as a way to keep women immured in the home and to discourage them from working.

It is not a coincidence that one of the earliest speakers at a major LLL gathering was Grantly Dick-Read, who fabricated the benefits of natural childbirth in order to force women back into the home. It’s not a coincidence that one of the early Medical Directors of LLL was William Sears, a religious fundamentalist who has claimed that his philosophy of attachment parenting was vouchsafed to him by God as His preferred method for family organization.

Breastfeeding promotion is, and has always been, about pressuring women to ignore their own needs and desires.

LLL was created a quarter century BEFORE anyone imagined that formula feeding had risks, and that realization reflected experience in Africa preparing formula with contaminated water. In the wake of the Nestle debacle in Africa, LLL partnered with the United Nations to create the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, both referencing benefits of breastfeeding even though there was no scientific evidence to support them. The past 30 years have been spent with breastfeeding researchers desperately searching for evidence of those benefits.

Initial research seemed promising, uncovering one benefit of breastfeeding after another. Yet larger studies that corrected for confounding variables like maternal education and socio-economic class debunked nearly all of them.

No matter, breastfeeding professionals are engaged in finding ever more arcane “benefits” (epigenetics! the microbiome!) and risks (texting!) with which they can pressure women.

But there’s no reason why women should succumb to the pressure. If you want to text while breastfeeding, go right ahead; it won’t harm your baby. For that matter, if you want to avoid breastfeeding altogether, go right ahead and use formula. It won’t harm your baby, either.

Good mothering means taking into account the needs of everyone in the family and mothers are part of the family.

Maternal suffering is not required.

  • Bea0515

    My kid had severe lip and tongue ties which interferes with her efficiency extracting Breastmilk so we were there for ages- I used to read articles on my phone, text friends, or GASP watch tv. It’s a real pity my 4 year old shows signs of extreme bonding an attachment issues now, like constantly hugging me and telling me over and over that she loves me or that I’m the best mama in the world. Sometimes she even asks me to join her for a cuddle and we watch tv TOGETHER! OH FOR SHAME I HAVE RUINED HER FOREVER!

  • Hannah

    I used to read on my phone all the time when feeding Son, and he’s perfectly well bonded. Only way it hurt him was when I accidentally dropped it on his head once or twice because pregnancy butterfingers didn’t leave for a good six months.

    Then again, I formula fed, so what do I know, he’s screwed anyways *shrugs*

  • rational thinker

    I just read the article and look what other article they were promoting on the site while this one was on the screen. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7178857/Multi-tasking-mother-bowls-strike-breastfeeding-baby-daughter.html

    • mabelcruet

      That poor, poor baby. He’s ended up with a mother who ignores him, who pays no attention to his comfort and irresponsibly just walks around willy-nilly in public places-think of all the germs she’s exposing him to going out and about! The noises! The artifical lights! Has she even given a single thought to the effect that the bowling alley wax is going to have on her baby’s microbiome?! Is she even bothered that wearing bowling shoes is going to trigger his epigenetics?! Does she care that having a day out with friends is going to mean the mama-baby dyad bond is irrevocably shattered-how is he going to feel knowing his mother has (gasp!!) friends and an emotional connection with people that aren’t him!!

    • Ayr

      OMG! How dare she have fun! The horror that she is actually doing something that does not revolve around her children.

  • rational thinker

    I have never breastfed but I always looked forward to when at about 3 or 4 months old the baby learned how to hold his own bottle, that way I could get other stuff done, like folding laundry. Mothering often requires multi-tasking. Especially if you have more than one child.

    • Ayr

      I have a 3 yr old and a 3 week old, and I love nap time! I can get things done like wash bottles since the baby is formula fed and start a load of laundry. And when the baby is napping in the mornings I can play with my son and read to him so he doesn’t feel neglected. And I am looking forward to when she hold her bottle on her own.

  • mabelcruet

    This is ableist (as well as being utter shite). If gazing into your baby’s eyes is all-important for bonding, that implies that blind and visually impaired parents can’t ever bond with their kids and are thus inferior parents.

    • Sarah

      Ableism has never really been a concern with this lot though…

    • Ayr

      Don’t confuse the issue with facts…we can’t have that! /sarc

    • If you observe a nursing mother and baby closely, you will see that the mother and baby, if latched on properly, AREN’T “gazing into each other’s eyes”, the baby is looking directly at the breast. BOTTLE FED babies are held differently, and look straight up at the person feeding them. So “bonding” is actually better.

  • hollyjm

    I have mixed fed since birth. The funny thing about bottle feeding is it requires two hands, so you can’t text and feed, so you are way more likely to end up staring (often blankly, in sheer exhaustion) at your baby’s face. But I bet this doesn’t count, right, because I’m giving them terrible formula? Also, when you’re breastfeeding a tiny baby, they are NOT looking at you – they’re smushed sideways into breast and clothing, and half the time have their eyes closed!

    • Cristina B

      It doesn’t count because lactivists assume you prop the bottle and leave

  • Casual Verbosity

    Lactivists bang-on about how the magical breast-in-mouth connection is the source of all bonding, but if not looking at the baby is problematic to bonding, then maybe it’s got nothing to do with the breast at all.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    If instead of staring at the baby while feeding them, can you just sing to them? In principle, you can breastfeed, text AND sing at the same time.

    Even if we buy the bullshit premise here, why does it have to be staring? Why wouldn’t singing help with bonding? Why is one sense better than the other?

    Oh, I know the answer – because it’s not about bonding or any such fluff. It’s about shaming mothers.

  • Glia

    Associating your baby with the indescribable boredom of feeding without doing anything else for hours a day is definitely better for the bond. Or maybe I only think endless staring at a baby that isn’t really doing anything interesting and doesn’t want to actually interact with me is boring because I did the bonding thing so wrong?

  • mabelcruet

    For heaven’s sake, what an absolute pile of crap. If they are claiming looking at your phone interferes with bonding, then the same must be true for every other thing the mother does that takes her attention off her baby. No more reading, watching TV, having conversations with your partner, going to the loo, speaking to other people, paying attention to the other kids in the home, eating or sleeping: I mean, if you’re being so selfish as to want to close your eyes and nap rather than sit gazing into your baby’s eyes 24/7, your offspring will undoubtedly turn out to be a psychopath with mummy issues.

    What total and utter bollocks. I’d be ashamed to put my name to this sort of spurious shite.

    • Russell Jones

      To butcher a somewhat well-known Abraham Lincoln quote, “A lactivist’s utter bollocks and spurious shite are his stock in trade.”

    • Kim Thomas

      As a newborn, my daughter would breastfeed for hours. I used to read, otherwise I’d never have coped with the boredom. The problem with nonsensical injunctions about not texting while breastfeeding is that they are completely counter-productive. It makes breastfeeding seem something mystical, rather than something completely ordinary and routine. Surely what most breastfeeding advocates want is to normalise breastfeeding? If you look at historical photographs of breastfeeding, the mums are often engaged in another activity while baby feeds. Some of us found that once our babies passed the newborn stage, we could easily carry on another task while breastfeeding, because ultimately breastfeeding is no big deal – it’s just a way of feeding your baby.

      • AnnaPDE

        With all the “doing X while breastfeeding” promotion (with X being everything including winning an ultramarathon), you’d think that lactivists would notice that this whole focus issue is just rubbish.
        I mean, don’t they recommend baby carriers and wraps so you can BF handsfree? And isn’t baby wearing in back carries extolled as super duper natural and fantastic for bonding? I guess that only applies as long as there’s something else to shame a mother over.

        • Kim Thomas

          Yes, exactly. The other concern for me is that it (possibly unwittingly) supports those people who are opposed to public breastfeeding. You’ll sometimes hear people say that breastfeeding is about creating a private, special bond between mother and baby and therefore mothers have no business going round breastfeeding in cafes, parks, churches and so on. But that’s complete nonsense. One of the best things about breastfeeding is how convenient it is – if the baby cries, you can just put it on the breast regardless of where you are and what you’re doing. You don’t have to spend inordinate amounts of time fiddling around with bottles.

        • Ozlsn

          Someone won an ultramarathon while breastfeeding? Didn’t she need her arms to swing while she ran?! I would fall over.

          (More seriously how the hell did she manage the calories/hydration part – I got dehydrated playing a 45 min game of netball and my supply dropped ffs.)

  • Guest from the Netherlands

    I discovered this site when I was pregnant with my daughter (2012), and spent many hours browsing it while nursing her. Still miss those days.

    • Allie

      I discovered it when I was nursing (in 2013) as it was so goddamned hard I thought I must be doing something wrong. When I wasn’t browsing this site, I was watching Netflix and YouTube. I kind of miss it too, and given that she can barely stand for me to be in another room, I’m gonna say it had no impact on bonding : )

  • MaineJen

    I got some of my best binge-watching done while breastfeeding.

    My little goblin used to stay on me for 30-40 minutes at a time, and often fell asleep while eating. There’s only so much “gazing adoringly into the baby’s eyes” that one woman can stand.

  • KQ Not Signed In

    But…then…when do these lactivists have time to parachute in on comment threads and jabber constantly on facebook?

    • Russell Jones

      But that’s noble and selfless, ya see. Those lactivist heroes are foregoing priceless bonding time with their own young ‘uns to get The Truth out to others.

      It has nothing whatsoever to do with separating Dunning-Kruger rubes from their disposable income. No, ma’am; nothing whatsoever.

  • MainlyMom

    I used to read books all the time when I was nursing. That was the days before texting of course.
    I remember reading that the baby would gaze lovingly into my eyes, but you know what? The kids are just there to get fed, then doze off. They might be small, but babies are people with their own personalities, and they’re mightily concerned with getting their own needs met, not fulfilling their mothers’. This is just another use of babies as props by the natural mothering crowd.

  • BeatriceC

    Texting wasn’t a thing when my babies were little. But the internet existed. I spent half my time nursing reading online journals or stuff for fun, and the other half grading papers or reading paper journals. This worked until I got to the one that needed to be bottle fed because as a micro, he was unable to learn to latch to the breast. With him I actually had to pay attention. And now that two of the three are adults (and the third is 11 months away) I can confidently say that I have an amazing relationship with all of them. My middle kid even recently texted me “do you have a pregnancy test, and can I have it if you do”, utterly without context, trusting me and knowing that I wouldn’t flip out and whatever was happening, I would help (turns out a friend, not a girlfriend, needed it and was too afraid to go to her own parents for help). This is not the sort of thing that you establish through any given infant feeding method. “Bonding” happens through the millions of tasks you do day in and day out to care for your child throughout their entire lives. It didn’t matter that I breastfed him, or that I fed him while distracted. It mattered that throughout the 18 years of his life I’ve met his needs with love and understanding, and built the trust we have.

  • Mel

    Bwhahahah!

    I spent most of my time feeding my son formula staring intently at his face. Now, that was because I was trying to estimate his blood ox and intervene before he turned blue from slowing his breathing down….but I still did it!

    Formula feeding for the win!

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    I honestly thought this was going to be one of those satire posts.

  • AnnaPDE

    Can someone explain me how to gaze into a baby’s eyes when said baby is turned towards my nipple and has his eyes closed? We got that moment of loving gaze in while sitting down to breastfeed, but then baby turned towards the breast with that unique “oh this is going to be SO good” smile, and latched on with a lunge, wiggling his little body like a cat wiggles her bum right before a carefully aimed jump, and then relaxed into the letdown with eyes closed and a little moan.
    100% of his focus on boob and milk. No time for eye contact or other irrelevant non milky business. He’d swat my hand away if I dared to pat him in a distracting way.
    So obviously I read on my phone. And yet he’s somehow bonded.
    ETA At least with bottles I could position him in a way that didn’t rule out eye contact. But closed eyes help against such evil motherly tricks.

  • StephanieJR

    Hey, I actually have a relevant Rabbit Fact! Oftentimes, the only interaction a mother rabbit has with her kits, before they leave the nest, is when feeding them, and that’s only for about two minutes two or three times a day. This goes for most rabbit and hare species, whether the young are born in a warren or out in a nest, to hopefully prevent a predator from discovering the vulnerable babies and eating them. Rabbits are also very social creatures that can bond closely together, in the warren or in the home, so I don’t think this lack of early interaction hurts them any.

  • rational thinker

    I would imagine that some of the hard core lactivists that spend most of their day bullying formula feeding mothers online wont like this. They will say something like this= ” If I cant text while I breastfeed how can I judge formula feeding mothers by taking selfies when I am breastfeeding and posting them online with a rude judgemental comment?”

  • Sue

    Many mothers are relatively isolated at home with newborns. The social contact now available digitally can keep them connected to their networks.

    • AnnaD2013

      Amen !!!

  • anh

    I hate so much how they keep moving the goal posts with us. It’s not enough that we breastfeed, now we have to do it the “right” way. I remember when I was nursing my first in 2012. that silly Lamaze journal put out an article pointing to this study that showed people who texted while driving had raised blood pressure and pulse. And as such, texting while nursing would cause the same changes in a mother and that would somehow be bad for the baby. I am done with this nonsense. It’s ridiculous and misogynistic. Lactivists are trying to control nursing people’s bodies as well as their minds “you can think of NOTHING but your baby while you are nursing”. We have got to call this shit out!