‘Mommy and Daddy, Please look at ME when I am feeding.’: Hospital sign telling parents not to be on phone is why ‘Mom Guilt’ exists

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The new father who shared the hospital sign said it made him ‘sad’

“For those of us who’ve had kids, you know the first several weeks are a blur of feedings, diapers, outfit changes, naps, and walking around half asleep wondering what the heck just happened. How we chose to spend our time during those first weeks (or any week thereafter) should be up to that parent and depend solely on what is needed to get by at that moment. When one dad passed by a hospital sign seemingly judging parents for their choices just a few days after his child was born, he was understandably frustrated.

Dr. Ash Cottrell wasn’t even a week into parenthood when he came across a sign posted in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) of his local hospital. He posted the picture of the sign, captioning it, “I’m on SCBU with my 5 day old. This poster makes me sad.” The sign read, “Mummy & Daddy . . . Please look at ME when I am feeding, I am much more interesting than your phone!!! Thank you.”

Dr. Cottrell, a “Senior Highly-Highly Specialised Consultant Advanced Clinical Specialist Practitioners Associate” living in the UK was understandably sad to see the “suggestion” from hospital staff. It would be perfectly within his right to be angry, frustrated, offended, and resentful at whoever decided it would be a good idea to make new parents feel guilty for anything at all, least of all being on the phone.

Those first days in the hospital are meant to spend time and bond with our babies. They are meant for cosleeping (or not), breastfeeding (if that’s your choice), and staring at our little ones for hours on end. But in between the staring and visitors and health checks and picture taking, there’s also down-time. Time to sleep, watch TV, and yes, be on our phones for however long we choose.

It doesn’t mean we don’t love our babies. It doesn’t mean we aren’t over-the-moon to welcome a new life into the world. Perhaps that new mom is checking in on her other kids. Maybe she’s responding to all the well-wishes from family and friends. Or she may just be online shopping or zoning out to a Netflix episode to balance the overwhelming feeling of being a new mom. It shouldn’t matter.

Parents get enough unsolicited advice from well-meaning strangers and friends on, well, everything. Breast or bottle, staying home or going back to work, how soon our kids should walk, talk, spell, or go to pre-school. It can feel entirely overwhelming. The last thing we need is to feel like having a little “me” time on our phones is wrong. The guilt moms feel in general for every little thing we do needs to stop. I don’t know a single mother not doing the very best for her kids all of the time. Signs like these meant to “persuade” us to be nothing but available to our child is part of the problem.”

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