Moms-to-be and new moms get a lot of baby advice. Although people usually mean well, not all of this advice is based on facts. Myths about breastfeeding are common, even by some health professionals.
The fact is, breastfeeding is the normal and healthy way to feed your baby, but can be confusing and challenging without accurate information, help from a trained Lactation professional, and lots of support at home. Following are a few of the myths that I cover in my breastfeeding classes.
MYTH: BREASTFEEDING HURTS
FACT: “Pain means something is wrong.” I say it over and over, but for some reason moms continue to be told, and continue to believe, that pain and trauma are a normal part of breastfeeding. Soreness in the first 1-2 weeks is not unusual, but “pain means something is wrong.”
MYTH: IT’S HARD TO LEARN HOW TO BREASTFEED
FACT: Learning to breastfeed takes time. Most moms recall that it took about 4 weeks to feel completely comfortable with positioning and latch. Fortunately, babies eat 8-12 times per day, so there’s lots of opportunity to practice. Moms and babies who are struggling with breastfeeding should see a Lactation Consultant for help.
MYTH: BREASTFEEDING CAUSES SAGGY BREASTS
FACT: Actually, it’s pregnancy that stretches the ligaments of your breast tissue, whether you breastfeed or not. Age, genetics, and the number of pregnancies you’ve had also play a role.
MYTH: IF YOUR BREASTS ARE TOO SMALL, YOU CAN’T BREASTFEED
FACT: Size and shape of breasts do not affect ability to breastfeed and have nothing to do with how much milk a woman actually makes.
MYTH: BREASTFEEDING MOTHERS CANNOT CONSUME ANY ALCOHOL
FACT: Occasional limited use of alcohol is considered acceptable, but regular or excessive alcohol use should be avoided. It is usually suggested that moms avoid breastfeeding during the time they feel a “buzz” or are intoxicated.
MYTH: MOMS WHO SMOKE SHOULD NOT BREASTFEED
FACT: Moms who are unable to stop smoking should breastfeed. The benefits of breastfeeding are far greater than the risks of not receiving breastmilk, even if mom smokes. Additionally, babies who are exposed to 2nd or 3rd hand smoke are at a greater risk of SIDS death, while babies who are breastfed are at a reduced risk.
MYTH: THERE IS NO WAY TO TELL IF MY BABY IS GETTING ENOUGH BREASTMILK
FACT: There are several ways to tell if your baby is getting enough to eat. First of all, babies who are feeding well pee and poop! Secondly, they gain weight; about 1 ounce per day (or 5 oz per week) during the 1st 4 months. Additionally, babies who are feeding well wake and feed 8-12 times per day and appear satisfied (or asleep) after the feeding. Finally, moms can hear the baby swallow and feel that her breasts are softer after the breastfeeding.
MYTH: MOTHERS WHO DON’T EAT WELL WON’T MAKE MILK
FACT: Moms will make milk even if they have poor eating habits. Breast milk production continues when mom isn’t eating or drinking well, but may use the energy from her body stores. Pregnancy is very taxing on a mom’s body, and she should eat and drink well to heal and replenish the nutrients that were used to grow her baby.