Fact or Fiction: 10 Myths About Breastfeeding
There is A LOT of misinformation out there about breastfeeding, and what is considered ‘normal’ throughout a breastfeeding journey.
Firstly we would like to start with the disclaimer that no mothers journey will be the same! As with everything to do with our health and bodies, everyone is different, and what is considered normal or routine for one mom may be completely different for another!
On the other hand, there are still plenty of myths floating around - a few of which you have heard, others maybe might be more obscure. So next time you hear one of these be sure to tell whoever the correct information and stop more moms worrying!
1. Breastfeeding should come naturally.
Breastfeeding is one of the most human and biologically natural experiences we can have as a woman, although it is a natural instinct, it is actually a learned behavior and one that takes practice to get right and comfortable. Often it can be frustrating but give yourself time and be kind to yourself whilst you and your baby adjust.
2. If you go back to work, you’ll have to wean your baby.
Here at Lactl this is one of our biggest myth busters. You absolutely don’t have to wean when going back to work - especially after the implementation of the FLSA which requires employers to provide lactation spaces for mothers returning to work and adequate break time. If you can pump every 3 hours when you are away from your baby you should maintain your milk supply. Talk to your employer about providing a space for you as it is your legal RIGHT to ask for it. Have a look at our resources on talking to your employer, and make sure you check your rights in your state.
3. It’s hard to wean a baby if you breastfeed for more than a year.
Like we said before everyone’s breastfeeding journey will be different and there is NO evidence that suggests you need to stop breastfeeding after a year. There has been evidence to suggest that breastfeeding for up to two years is beneficial. How long you want to breastfeed for should be determined by you and your babies needs. Consult a medical professional if you are unsure or find someone to talk to. We would recommend:
La Leche League USA Breastfeeding Helpline: 1-877-452-5324 (1-877-4-LALECHE) - https://lllusa.org/locator/
Breastfeeding USA - https://breastfeedingusa.org/content/breastfeeding-counselor-locations
National Office on Women's Health Helpline: 800-994-9662 - https://www.womenshealth.gov/contact-us/
4. You should stop breastfeeding if you’re sick.
You can usually continue breastfeeding when you get sick - however, it does depend on the illness and you should consult a medical professional if you are concerned. In many cases you will pass on the antibodies you are producing to fight your sickness on to your baby and build their immune system up too. Make sure you get lots of rest, drink water and eat well.
5. You can't take medications when you're breastfeeding.
Many medications are compatible with breastfeeding and will be perfectly safe. Make sure you read the instructions as it will usually give information on whether they are okay or not, and if you are concerned, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
6. You’re a bad mom if you don’t breastfeed
This is a big no! You are not a bad mother if you don’t breastfeed - get those negative thoughts out of your head right away! There is a lot of guilt flying around out there over this issue and a lot of opinions over formula vs breast. We go back again to the point of every woman is different and you must do what feels best for you and your baby - and if breastfeeding isn’t that or you are unable to breastfeed for whatever reason, then hold your hands up as a proud formula feeder!
7. You can never use formula if you want to breastfeed.
Even if you breastfeed formula may be necessary to supplement your supply or if you are unable to get milk to your baby for whatever reason. It is important to find a good formula and get unbiased information, rather than just listening to all of the adverts. A lactation consultant can help you build a schedule if you want to incorporate more formula into your routine, just make sure you keep your own milk production going if you are continuing to breastfeed too.
8. It’s normal for breastfeeding to hurt.
It is common to experience discomfort or some light pain during the first few feeds, however, it is not ‘normal’ to continually be in pain whilst breastfeeding. Sore nipples can be avoided by ensuring your baby is in the right position and latched properly. You should seek help from a professional if you are in pain past the first week of breastfeeding.
9. Small breasts won't make enough milk
Another big myth with NO evidence behind it. Milk supply is determined by the breast tissue within the breast. Breast size is determined by fat, which has no bearing on milk production whatsoever. So whatever size your ladies will not affect how much milk you produce. If you are having a hard time with your milk supply, it’s likely down to a completely different issue.
10. You should only eat plain food while breastfeeding.
Like anyone else, and especially because of both the emotional and physical impact that pregnancy and childbirth have on the body, a breastfeeding mom should eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of water and fluids. In general, there is no need to change your eating habits. Babies react to food that mothers consume when in the womb, so changes in taste are likely a result of your baby disagreeing with something which may last throughout breastfeeding too.
So there you have it - 10 breastfeeding myths debunked! Let us know in the comments any other myths you’ve heard and we will iron these out in a future post!
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