To nursing mamas everywhere, it’s time we get off our phones and start paying attention to the baby who’s right in front of us! I now see using smart phones while nursing as one of a breastfeeding mom’s biggest distractions and, dare I say, one of the biggest obstacles to mother-baby bonding as well.
This post is part of the Breast-Kept Secrets: Breastfeeding Advice from One Mom to Another series.
When I first started breastfeeding my now 5 year old in June of 2008, it was all I could do to hold her correctly on my pink-and-brown-polka-dotted-covered Boppy pillow.
Breastfeeding in the beginning was a struggle. And I clearly remember the onslaught of phone calls from well-wishing friends and family who wanted to check on my adjustment to first-time motherhood.
Back then, I just let the phone ring.
I had one of those phones where I had to click on the number so many times to pull up the letters (a flip phone, maybe?), so I mostly let the text messages go unanswered as well.
My husband and I had just signed up for text messaging servicing the day before our baby’s birth–in hopes of notifying family when we were at the hospital (without having to make a bazillion phone calls en route). I just didn’t have the hang of texting while nursing. And, truly, I could barely balance my baby and a breastfeeding book–much less a baby and a cell phone.
Fast forward five years.
I’ve now nursed three babies a total of 52 months (and counting), and around my second daughter’s 6th month of life, I got a smart phone.
Quite honestly, I had laughed at smart phones before that. I call myself technologically clueless, and I imagined I could never, ever figure out how to use one!
But my job at the time paid for it, so I began using it.
Before I knew it, I was spending my time nursing my daughter chatting it up with friends via text messaging, following along with acquaintances via Facebook and answering work emails.
Sure, I was holding my sweet babe. But were we truly bonding?
I now see using smartphones while nursing as one of a breastfeeding mom’s biggest distractions and, dare I say, one of the biggest obstacles to mother-baby bonding as well.
Honestly? My heart hurts for new moms who know no different than spending their time nursing while surfing the web. I’m thankful I had the experience of nursing my first child without a smart phone.
I often tire of the breast vs. bottle debate. Yes, quite obviously I’m a huge advocate of breastfeeding.
But really, moms. Really. At least the bottle feeding moms have to get off their phones to make their bottles and hold them to their babies’ mouths. I would think balancing a bottle and a cell phone don’t quite mix.
Think about it: Traditionally, breastfeeding is a bonding time for the mother and baby.
My husband’s family has never been super keen on me breastfeeding (although his immediate family has become more and more open to it over the years!), and I remember actually looking forward to the times my oldest daughter and I had alone in the back room of a relative’s house where I nursed her in private so as to not offend anyone in the group setting.
It was my time to rest, our time to cuddle–the time where her attention was fully on me, and my attention was 100 percent, fully on her.
What’s sad is that I feel I’ve nearly missed this with my youngest. It didn’t hit me until sometime this past month–the month she turned 1–that I’ve spent the majority of her nursing days on my cell phone.
Gulp. Yes, this is confession time.
Oh, it’s been an excuse, really.
So I’m on Facebook again? Well, I’m just passing the time away while nursing.
Passing the time away? Why would I have wanted to just pass that time away? That time and this season are simply much too fleeting as it is.
But I’m working.
Work can wait.
When I think back to the time when I worked as a first-time mom, I couldn’t get through the days fast enough. I rushed to the sitter’s house and savored that sweet afternoon nursing session with my babe who I hadn’t seen all day.
The problem with working at home is that–sometimes–people like me mix being physically there with being emotionally present. The two are not one in the same.
And as my oldest daughter turned 5 this past summer and we decided to wait until next year to formally start school with her, I’ve become keenly aware that time is not slowing down. My girls are growing up–no matter how much I’d like them to just stay little longer–long enough for me to adjust to this thing called motherhood that I feel I flounder in so often.
My goal is to nurse Baby Girl another year. That very first baby of mine nursed for two, and her sister nursed 18 months.
And so I’m making it a priority now to get off my phone while I’m nursing her. Even at 1, she knows. She knows when Mommy is paying her attention, and she knows when Mommy is just feeding her.
I want to relish this time. I want to hold her sweet little hand, watch her eyes dance during let-down and wipe away dribbles of milk when she unlatches and gives me her big toothy grin.
I don’t want to miss another minute. I’ve already missed too much. My friendships may suffer. My blog may go without updates. But my babies…my babies will know that Mama has their full attention.