Breastfeeding. Young mother feeding cute newborn baby


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

The horror!!!

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Breastfeeding promotion is, and has always been, about pressuring women to ignore their own needs and desires.[/pullquote]

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.