Attention social media mamas…is your Facebook fix distracting you from breastfeeding success?
A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that distractions occurred in close to half of all infant feedings—and about 60% of the interruptions could be attributed to technological devices. The study posed the question — is texting while you feed (dubbed brexting) a good way to pass the time, or could it have a negative impact on feeding?
In the study, 75 moms — between the ages of 18 to 40, with complication-free pregnancies or births — kept diaries for one to six days about feeding times for infants, all under six months old.
“Distractions were reported during 43% of feedings for the group data, with mothers reporting technological distractions during 26% of feedings and non-technological distractions during 17% of feedings,” said Alison Ventura, PhD, the lead author, in a statement.
And on the individual level, 92% of moms reported a distraction during one or more feedings, and 83% said there was a technological distraction during at least one feeding.
Passing Time or Putting Baby Second?
All numbers aside, should you be passing the time on your mobile device?
Nursing is more than nutrition for a baby; it is also a time of bonding and of establishing human connection between a mother and a child, says Carolyn Thompson, a Nashville-based OB/GYN. She said eye contact is a pivotal part of that bonding, which can help babies develop their emotional quotient.
“The distractions of cell phones disrupt that bonding,” Thompson said.
While no one knows for sure to what degree the interruptions may impact the breastfeeding experience, Thompson contends that it has the “potential to translate into emotional disturbances in the children in the future.”
Deedra Franke, a nurse and board-certified lactation consultant at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, said moms are on their phones more than they were a few years ago. Some are using breastfeeding apps to monitor feeding activities.
“In the early weeks of learning to breastfeed, I usually don’t see moms on their phones because they are learning to breastfeed,” she said. After they master breastfeeding, more moms do use their phones. But she doesn’t see it being a problem so long as they’re not distracted for too long. Many women who support brexting say it simply replaced moms who would read or watch television as they nursed years ago.
“Babies in general won’t allow moms to be on their phones very long because other infant care duties require two hands,” she said. Franke doesn’t believe being distracted can affect the bonding aspect too much because the act of breastfeeding alone enhances attachment.
Kateyune Kaeni, a psychologist from California who specializes in maternal care, has said that babies need moms to respond to them whether breast or bottle-feeding.
“When babies are first born their vision is only basically from the breast to the mothers face,” Kaeni told Southern California Public Radio in 2015. “That’s as far as they can see. So babies do a lot of staring and bonding in that way.”