“Distraction by devices, other people, and your environment can affect the let-down of milk.”Dr Cheyne Thompson
I’m showing my age now, but when my children were babies, none of these existed! I know life is busy now, and we all like to keep in touch with friends, family and the world in general, when we can squeeze these opportunities into our busy lives. What impact are Brexting, Bracebooking and Brinstagramming having on you and your baby?
What are these new terms, if you haven’t come across them before?
We see this in our reception area at times and I’ve been thinking about the impact this has on family relationships. It happens with breast feeding or bottle-feeding Mums and has been going on for some time. The terms are new to me though. No, it isn’t anything to do with Britain leaving the EU. It is when Mums gaze at their screens on their devices when they are feeding their Bubbas.
I have just been to the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia’s National Conference in Melbourne and the research into the effects of screen time on brains was one of the sessions presented. Dr Wayne Warburton, a Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology at Macquarie University got me thinking about Brexting, screen-time and relationship building.
As a mother of 3 children, I understand the commitment that babies and children are. They are very consuming and the love they bring into your lives can not be described. Mums are always time poor, and often crave companionship from other adults. Sometimes being a new Mum can be a bit isolating. It seems like a moment to snatch for other tasks when your baby is feeding.
Feeding your baby is not only about providing nutrition. There are several other important parts of the feeding process to help your baby develop socially, emotionally and physically.
For a breastfeeding Mum, distraction by devices, other people and your environment can affect the let-down of milk. Being distracted by distressing or worrisome content on your screen has been shown to cause feeding problems. (1)
The Brilliant Brain of our Babies
When your Baby stares at you whilst feeding, they are making a map of your face on their brain. This helps with bonding between Mum and Baby as oxytocin (a hormone that affects some human behaviour as part of its function) is released.
Your baby learns to recognise your face (even as early as 4 days old) and interacts and connects with you. A strong bond helps to reduce the chances of future episodes of depression, anxiety, memory difficulties and learning problems.
Things that can help with bonding are skin-to-skin- contact with your baby, cuddles, early breastfeeding, carrying your baby on your left side (do use the other side too for yours and your Baby’s spinal health), and non-verbal communication through face-to-face time.
When Mum and Baby have eye contact, their brain waves synchronise which encourages your Baby to vocalise and build their social neural networks. (3) Even at 2 days old, studies show that babies can tell the difference between direct and averted gaze and that direct gaze causes increases in their brain’s electrical activities. (4) It has also been shown that language development is affected by gazing at each other and eye contact. (5)
Babies have been shown to prefer to look at faces, especially eyes, since birth. They can pick and understand emotional states by looking into other people’s eyes which helps create social connection and development later in their lives. (6)
I understand! Being a new Mum is a very busy and tiring stage of life.
I understand the pull of keeping in touch with friends etc currently through devices. I would never discourage a mother for trying to stay 'afloat'... any way they can. All I hope is that this bit of knowledge helps you to deepen your connection with your Baby and the quality of social, emotional and developmental connection.
One day I know you will look back on this stage with fond memories of gazing deeply into your Baby’s beautiful eyes and knowing you helped to set them up to live an optimal life.
Author: Cheyne Thompson
Cheyne graduated from Sydney College of Chiropractic and Osteopathy in 1984. She also has postgraduate qualifications in paediatric chiropractic care. Before joining Clayfield Chiropractic Clinic in 1993, Cheyne enjoyed seven years in a Sydney based practice. Cheyne has three children and 2 grandchildren.