Breastfeeding is the most natural way for women to feed their babies, but somehow there is so much misunderstanding around the subject. Sometimes this can deter women from even attempting to breastfeed their babies altogether, and other times it can make them give up way too easily.
There is a lot of old "wisdom" out there regarding breastfeeding, but we should not believe everything that we hear. Just because one mom on the internet claims she was told one thing in the hospital or how things were when she was nursing does not mean that she is right. While it might be outside of a millennial's comfort zone to talk to someone in person instead of on the internet, there are plenty of lactation consultants out there who would be willing to help a mom who wants to breastfeed learn more about it and the facts!
Just like everything else about pregnancy and parenting, the rules and recommendations for breastfeeding seem to be constantly evolving. When we know better, we do better and that is a philosophy that we can apply to how we feed our babies as well. It is true that breastfeeding is not for everyone and some people cannot or do not want to do it, but we should be properly informed before we make that decision. A misinformed mom making such a serious may be seriously mad that she made her decision based on myths and misconceptions.
15 Breastfed Babies Are Smarter
There are many articles and people who claim that breastfeeding our baby will make he or she smarter. There is however little actual evidence to back up these claims. While breastmilk surely has its benefits, there is just no direct correlation between that and a person's intelligence. Kids, babies, in particular, develop at various places so it is hard to say that breastmilk or formula has anything to do with meeting those milestones.
If mom can not breastfeed or decides not to, she should not have to be accused of hurting her baby's intelligence somehow. We deal with enough mom guilt as it is. We shouldn't have to deal with crazy moms and their outlandish opinions making us feel like we are somehow putting our babies at a disadvantage. It's simply not true.
14 Breastfeeding Is The Best Form Of Birth Control
One giant lie that has been going around for ages is that a woman cannot get pregnant while she is breastfeeding. There are likely millions of babies out there who would prove this is incorrect. Breastfeeding does mess with our hormones and our cycle which is why people should be more careful, not less. Women can certainly still get pregnant while breastfeeding. We are also especially fertile after just having a baby which definitely does not help that situation.
There are some women who believe that because their period has not returned, which can often happen during breastfeeding. We ovulate before we get our period so there is no logic to this claim. Most doctors recommend using another form of birth control even while breastfeeding. There is no foolproof method, but this is a foolish method!
13 Nursing On A Schedule Is A Must
Everyone's go-to suggestion when we have a baby is to have a set schedule. This would include when the baby should eat. That is a great idea, but we need to keep practicality in mind. Many breastfeeding moms simply breastfeed on demand because it keeps everyone happier and things moving smoothly.
Breastmilk is digested differently than formula so we cannot use that schedule. In fact, it is hard to find a one size fits all type of schedule for the majority of babies because they are all different. If weight is a concern, some moms are encouraged to breastfeed at least every 2 or 2.5 hours, but it is rare to be told to make the baby wait to eat. Adults do not like being told they have to wait to eat, so why should we expect a tiny baby to do it?
12 Pacifiers Keep The Baby From Latching
Lots of us have heard of nipple confusion and how pacifiers can play a role in that. Pacifiers have definitely gotten a bad rap for being the foil to many mom's wishes to breastfeed, and they may not be entirely to blame after all. A pacifier can be mom (and baby's) best friend when we simply need something to soothe. It can help us both get some much needed sleep, and baby won't be attached to us while we do it.
There are multiple occasions where baby uses the breast as a pacifier and not for nutrition. This would be the perfect time to introduce a real pacifier and save us some chafing and cracking! Moms should note that a pacifier is in no way a substitution for an actual nursing session. It should be used for comfort rather than if the baby is showing signs of hunger.
11 It's A Guarantee The Girls Will Sag
While quite a few moms have ignored this rather vain breastfeeding myth, there are still women who have opted not to breastfeed out of fear of saggy ladies. There is a myth that has sadly been circulating for generations that blames the length of time and amount of babies a woman nurses for how her girls may sag in the upcoming years.
One obvious edge to this myth is that one day everything sags. Many may call it old age or just simply gravity. The truth of the matter is that saggy ladies have little to do with milk production and breastfeeding and more to do with being pregnant in the first place. This is largely due to the quick changes in our weight and hormones, specifically elastin which can make our breasts sag over time.
10 Cluster Feeding = The Baby Isn't Getting Enough Milk
Some moms have heard that if the baby is constantly nursing or what can be called "cluster feeding" it means that babe is just not getting enough milk and getting hungry quickly. While that is always a possibility, new babies tend to cluster feed. Breastmilk is a bit easier for babies to metabolize and digest, but formula babies cluster feed as well in the first few weeks of life. It is simply how new babies eat.
A newborn is a teeny, tiny human which means that he/she also has a teeny, tiny stomach so there is just only so much room. Newborns tend to eat frequently simply because they cannot eat in large amounts so they are hungry sooner. We are not doing anything wrong that is causing the baby to eat more frequently, and it is better to let them eat on demand and gain the weight that is needed rather than making themselves sick being forced to drink too much milk.
9 Pump And Dump Is A Must After Drinking Alcohol
While it is true that baby gets what we eat and drink in our milk, there is not a lot that our bodies doesn't metabolize. Breastfeeding is natural and beautiful because our bodies do crazy things to feed our babies. Many moms have heard that they cannot consume any alcohol if they want to breastfeed. Or that if they do, it is necessary to dump out the milk. While we obviously do not want to get baby drunk, there are many different opinions on this topic.
Most lactation consultants tell mom if she is safe to drive, she is safe to nurse. Studies have found that our bodies metabolize the alcohol as long as we give the baby a couple of hours between when we drink and when we feed the baby. It is suggested mom only have a small drink or two if she is planning on feeding baby though. Many people who do drink more while breastfeeding will pump and use the milk for other purposes such as a breastmilk bath.
8 If You Have Implants, Kiss Breastfeeding Goodbye
There is a huge misconception that if a woman has had work done up there, she cannot breastfeed. What really determines whether or not a woman with breast augmentation can in fact breastfeed is where exactly her implants were placed. The implants may either be between the chest muscle and breast tissue or under the chest muscle. By placing implants under the chest muscle, it prevents damage to nerves and the milk ducts. It also determines where the doctor makes the incision. If the nerves were spared or left in fact, it increases a woman's chance of successfully breastfeeding.
Many women will put off breast surgery until they are done having kids because of breastfeeding which would probably be best. Why risk damage and not being able to nurse if that's what we really want? Today's plastic surgeons are definitely more conscious of breastfeeding after plastic surgery and other benefits that come from the more modern procedure of placing the implant under the chest muscle.
7 Strict Diets Only While Nursing
We just got done with a pregnancy where we have to watch our sushi, deli meat, alcohol, and many other diet restrictions. While we may be worried that breastfeeding would come with the same limits since we are still technically feeding baby what we consume in many ways, there is a lot less to worry about. Our bodies metabolize and filter what goes into our milk so there are smaller amounts of caffeine for example that would get to the baby. We also do not have to worry about food poisoning while breastfeeding like we do while pregnant.
There are foods that may make baby gassier, but we can still have them just in reasonable quantities. We should still limit our caffeine and fish with crazy high mercury content, but there isn't much else to worry about unless the baby has an allergy. We can eat the foods that we've been missing. Man, we know we've been missing caffeine! There are many nursing moms even have a glass of wine on occasion.
6 Pumping Will Jumpstart The Milk
Some women have been told that they should pump right away in order to jump-start milk production. First of all, do not pump before baby is born unless already breastfeeding! Pumping in the first few days and weeks postpartum can cause mom to have an oversupply. A new baby knows what he/she needs and that is how much he/she will eat. A pump does not know the difference and when done on a schedule can cause too much milk to come in too quickly.
While oversupply is not necessarily a horrible thing because then we can stock up on breastmilk, it can be extremely uncomfortable for mom and even painful! There are circumstances where mom needs to pump right away if she is separated from baby soon after birth, but she does not to pump right away or for even the first 6 weeks or so in order to prepare for leaving baby later. The first six to eight weeks are a crucial time when our supply is coming in.
5 Breastfeeding Moms Are More Tired
All new moms are tired. It does not matter how we feed our little bundles of joy because newborns are notoriously not great sleepers. There really is not much difference at 4 A.M. between making a bottle, grabbing pumped milk out of the fridge, or whipping out a breast! Some moms even leave pumped milk in the fridge so that their partner can share in the late night duties just like a formula feeding parent could do.
There are many moms who breastfeed the first year of baby's life. It becomes such a natural habit that we can basically do it in our sleep meaning we really do not lose a whole lot of sleep as baby wakes up during the night to eat. No matter how we feed baby, we are going to be tired. We will probably be tired for the next eighteen years so just get used to it.
4 Breastfeeding While Sick Is Dangerous
There are many misconceptions about what to do if mom, baby, or both of us is sick. We are obviously used to the idea of limiting contact with someone who is sick. We are extra cautious with who our new baby comes in contact with as well. While we still shouldn't kiss all over baby when we are sick, we should still definitely nurse baby.
When we breastfeed, our body is creating milk in real time. It reacts to our sickness or baby's. Our body produces antibodies that will help baby fight the sickness and also likely prevent baby from getting sick from whatever we have. Our milk will change to give baby what he/she needs to continue to grow and stay healthy. Mom might also notice a change in the milk's color while sick. It usually begins to resemble that early milk or colostrum in color because it is extra packed full of vitamins and nutrients. There is no formula that can do that.
3 Medication Is Forbidden
It is a no-brainer that we want to do what is best for our babies. A lot of well meaning moms let untrue statements deter their desire to breastfeed. Just the same a great deal of women deny themselves necessary medications because they want to breastfeed. While there certainly are limitations to what a nursing mom can consume, there are medications that women can take while still breastfeeding.
One of the most important parts of breastfeeding is having a relationship with a lactation consultant and/or our doctor who can help us navigate this journey. There are tons of resources for mom to get the proper information about her particular medication. Our body does metabolize a LOT before it becomes milk which is why women who have c-sections can have regular painkillers and still nurse their babies! We have come so far with modern medicine so that we can make an educated decision regarding what is safe for mom and baby.
2 There Is No Way To Tell If Baby Is Eating Enough
Our breasts obviously do not come with measurement markers for how many ounces of milk baby is getting so in some ways we feel that it is a guessing game if the baby is getting an adequate amount of milk. Some women decide to pump for this reason because there is a physical marker to tell us just how much baby is eating.
Besides pumping, there are a couple of ways to check how much milk or if the baby is getting enough milk. One method is a weighted feeding. Baby is weighed, usually naked because ounces are super important here, directly before and after nursing. This gives us an idea of how much milk baby is getting. As baby gets older, we begin to simply know whether or not the baby is getting enough milk. We can usually tell by baby's behavior if he/she is unusually showing signs of hunger, irritability, or fussiness.
1 Breastfeeding Is Natural And Easy
HA HA HA! Oh wait, this actually is not a joke. There is one huge misconception that breastfeeding is easy just because it's natural. Yes, breastfeeding is the most natural, beautiful thing in the world and an amazing way to feed our babies. But it is laughable to tell women, especially new moms trying and wanting to breastfeed, that it should be easy. Do not minimize challenges by saying that it is not easy for every woman. Yes, for some women it may come totally naturally and easily.
We can have all kinds of physical and even emotional challenges, but with knowledge and support, most are able to be overcome. There are tons of resources out there for breastfeeding moms, and a lactation consultant is the best person to give us the proper information and understanding.