Say the word breastfeeding, and a lot of people will suddenly have a lot to say. Whether it’s your relatives or friends, someone’s going to give you their opinions or stories one way or another. But how do you know fact from fiction? Today, we’re busting nine common breastfeeding myths, and proving why you should stop believing them. Keep scrolling!
Ever heard of the saying, ‘Size doesn’t matter?’ Well, when it comes to breastfeeding, it holds true. Judith Lauwers, a spokesperson for the International Lactation Consultant Association, says, “The breast tissue you need to nurse a baby grows in response to pregnancy regardless of your breast size.”
For those of you who have experienced nursing your baby and expressing your milk via pump or hand, you know it’s different. The suction of your baby is more natural—a baby can consume about three to four ounces of milk in one feeding—while the suction of a pump requires negative pressure, sometimes only producing one to two ounces of milk. So don’t be discouraged when you see how much milk you’re pumping. Just remember that it’s not a reflection of how much milk you make.
If you give your baby formula, part of the process is sterilizing the bottles and nipples before feeding your child. If this is the case, shouldn’t you also be cleaning your nipples before you breastfeed? The answer: As long as you take care of your daily hygiene, then there’s really no need. Because your breasts have glands that secrete oils that protect your nipples, washing them is unnecessary. Washing them can actually remove the protective oils, and can be a cause of cracked nipples.
If you’re worried that your baby isn’t getting the vitamins and minerals he or she needs from your milk, know that breastmilk is the most complete form of nutrition your baby can have. Formula supplements are artificially created to imitate the benefits of breastmilk. But where as your milk has antibodies, living cells, and enzymes, formula does not.
While there may be some moms who prefer to follow a feeding schedule, such as every two hours around the clock, this doesn’t mean that this is the golden rule. Instead of watching the clock, be more attuned to your baby’s needs than a specific schedule. If your baby is hungry, and two hours haven’t passed yet, forget the two-hour rule, and nurse him or her. There is no need to time your breastfeeding sessions either. Each baby’s feeding patterns are different, and knowing when your child is hungry and feeding him or her is more important.
Breastmilk is easily digestible, so it’s normal for you to be nursing every two to three hours. While consistent and frequent feeding is not the only gauge to making sure your baby is getting enough milk, breastfeeding is not simply about satisfying your baby’s hunger. Your baby also finds comfort and warmth being close to you, and the skin to skin contact can help provide a sense of security to your child.
Most moms have the expectation that the milk they’ll be producing will be white. However, in the first few days of birth, you’ll be producing a thick yellowish substance called colostrum. Don’t freak out, it’s not dirty, it’s actually packed with proteins and antibodies that’ll help protect your baby against infections. It also acts like a laxative to help your baby pass his or her first stool.
Breastmilk has antibodies and anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that will protect your baby from the illness or virus that you have. Usually, there is a latency period before a virus and its symptoms appear, so chances are your baby was already exposed to them. In fact, you should breastfeed all the more when you’re sick, so your baby will be protected.
While experts from the La Leche League International, a breastfeeding resource organization, say that hormones involved in breastfeeding can prevent ovulation, this does not guarantee that you will not get pregnant. Certain conditions such as breastfeeding exclusively, day and night, at least every four to six hours, for the first six months, without the appearance of your menstrual cycle, will more likely mean that you won’t be getting pregnant any time soon, but it’s best not to rely on breastfeeding if you don’t want to get pregnant again so soon.
Like most things, not everything out there about breastfeeding rings true. It’s always best to consult with an expert such as a lactation consultant or a pediatrician. While it may seem daunting at first, you’ll slowly get the hang of breastfeeding and realize just how much of an impact it leaves both you and your child.
- Bouchez, Colette. 7 Myths About Breastfeeding. WebMD. Date accessed May 15, 2018.
- Canadian Breastfeeding Foundation. Some Breastfeeding Myths. Canadian Breastfeeding Foundation. Date accessed May 15, 2018.
- Pearson, Catherine. 10 Breastfeeding Myths That Won’t Go Away. Huffington Post. Last modified December 6, 2017.
- Sullivan, Dana, and Carole Anderson Lucia. 16 Breastfeeding Myths—and the Truth! Fit Pregnancy. Date accessed May 15, 2018.