Let's Bust Some Breastfeeding Myths

Let’s Bust Some Breastfeeding Myths

Let’s Bust Some Breastfeeding Myths

There are so many breastfeeding myths floating around it can make your head spin. From lovely advice about putting cognac on your nipples to make them stand up and make it easier for baby to latch (what?!), to making sure you always top off with formula because there is no way your baby is getting enough from your breast. Most of the advice is well intentioned but ill informed. It can confuse a new mother who is already struggling to keep afloat in the baby’s first few months of life. So here are some common myths and reality.

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Breastfeeding Myth 1: Mom does not make enough milk after baby is born and thus formula supplementation is necessary.

Truth: Some breastfeeding myths can ruin a breastfeeding journey from the get go. And this is definitely one of them. The truth is that most women begin to produce the first milk called colostrum well before the baby is born. The production starts in the second trimester of their pregnancy. While some women can leak colostrum before birth, others don’t. This may add to the misconception of not producing anything.

Colostrum is different from mature milk because it is much thicker and typically much darker in color. It contains incredibly important substances like antibodies, immunoglobulin A (which populates the intestines and helps protect the baby from viruses and infections), probiotics and of course the perfect combination of nutrients.  Baby will only eat about a teaspoon of colostrum at a feeding. But that is because their stomach is the size of a marble. So there is no need for formula because the baby is getting enough.

One caveat, you do need to keep an eye on your baby’s diaper output. If you’re seeing that they’re not having bowel movements and are not producing wet diapers, bring it up to your nurse in the hospital. Also talk about it with your pediatrician at the check-up. That is a sign that they are not getting enough. If they are crying inconsolably no matter how much time they spend on the breast, that is also something to talk to a medical professional about. It is not normal for the baby to never calm down and sleep.

Breastfeeding Myth 2: Breastfeeding is painful and having cracked and bleeding nipples is normal.

Truth: This is one of those breastfeeding myths that’s often perpetuated by our own well meaning older relatives. A lot of them were left to fend for themselves when they breastfed. They often faced mastitis and other issues without having any proper guidance and support. The reality is that yes, there will be some pain and some discomfort but if the pain is not getting better and there is bleeding, you need to see a lactation specialist. The most likely culprit is an improper latch or a tongue/lip tie. It needs to be addressed before you find yourself in so much pain that you are giving up breastfeeding. 

The peak of pain is typically day 3-5 because baby cluster feeds and by about 2 weeks in, things start feeling a little better, and by 8 weeks most of the discomfort is gone. But don’t be surprised if it doesn’t. Some of us are blessed with painful breasts as long as we continue nursing and very little helps.

Breastfeeding Myth 3: Baby needs to be fed on a schedule

Truth: In the beginning, feeding on demand is the best way to go with baby. Let your baby dictate the feeding schedule. Some babies may seem attached to the breast 24/7 and some will go for a few hours between feeds. It’s all individual and there is no need to force it. As long as baby is in the room with you, you will see and hear their hunger cues; feed them and all will be right in the world.                                                                                             

By about 2 months you can start establishing a schedule with your little one in order to bring some order and sanity to your life. Watch your child’s cues and don’t let them go too long without food, especially if they’re showing hunger signs (rooting, licking their fists, turning their head, yawning). On the flip side, there is no need to stick your breast in their face at the smallest sign of distress. Yes, it may calm them down but down the road, you will be the pacifier and baby will nurse not just for food. It is up to you to decide if you want that or not.

Breastfeeding Myth 4: You need to wake up your baby  to feed because your newborn is too weak/sleepy

Truth: This myth hits close to home for me and I call such bs on it. Yes, there are situations with labor interventions that may cause your newborn to be groggy and sleepy but generally that is not the case. Most newborns are alert enough to wake up and request food and it may not be every 2 hours. They may nurse every hour during the day and every 3-4 during the night. All of that is normal. As long as your baby is producing wet and dirty diapers and is not crying inconsolably, there is nothing for you to worry about. Your child knows their hunger needs better than anyone else.

Breastfeeding Myth 5: You will lose weight by breastfeeding

Truth: This one is a half truth and all depends on your body. Some women do lose weight by breastfeeding and some don’t, while others gain weight during breastfeeding. I feel that this myth is told as a selling point for breastfeeding and sets up some moms for disappointment. 

The reality for most breastfeeding moms is that they are ravenous and no amount of food seems to satisfy their appetite. They may also have cravings that are more severe than anything they experienced during pregnancy. It’s a bit hard to lose weight when you want to stuff your face with full fat yogurt, wash it down with a gallon of full fat milk, and add some crunch with a box of cookies. Weight should not be your main focus while you’re breastfeeding, instead you should concentrate on eating nutritious meals and drink plenty of water to keep your energy up. 

I hope these truths help clear up some confusion about breastfeeding. There are many more myths to address and talk about and that can fill up a whole book. I wish you an easy start and successful continuation of breastfeeding.

Update:

I’ve recently partnered with a Rachel Da Silva, RN, BSN, CLC, founder of Mommy Did You Know and became an affiliate for her wonderful breastfeeding courses. She has 3 tiers of courses: Milk Minutes Free Breastfeeding Class,  The Milk Minutes Breastfeeding Crash Course,  Milk Minutes All About Feeding Your Baby (Premium Version). She has a variety of helpful resources on her page, including an online consultation to answer your postpartum related questions. If you are interested in checking out and purchasing any of her courses, click here.

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    Quote of the day:

    “As a breastfeeding mother you are basically just meals on heels.” —   Kathy Lette

    Mental Health Tip of the Day:

    If all the unsolicited advice about breastfeeding becomes too much use your partner as your shield. Let him/her deal with the well-wishers and steer them towards more useful things like helping you clean the house. After all, that is a much better use of their time than spreading breastfeeding myths.

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    Let's Bust Some Breastfeeding Myths

    42 thoughts on “Let’s Bust Some Breastfeeding Myths”

    1. I LOVE these breastfeeding truths!! I agree whole heartedly. Everyone kept saying it was normal for breastfeeding to hurt but my midwife said no way and told me to make baby relatch every time it hurt and I am so thankful for this. Two years strong breastfeeding over here!

    2. I definitely agree with the statement that you don’t always lose weight when breastfeeding. I am 11 months post partum and I still have not lost my weight from the baby. But I continue to breastfeed. Like you said we do get a lot of cravings and our appetite is a lot More so it’s hard to lose the weight.

      1. Yes, Kristal. It’s so true. I had a very difficult time losing weight with my first one too. The cravings were killer. But at the end of the day, it’s possible to do it later. And this also gives us a moment to appreciate that our body is more important than the weight it carries. Nourishing the baby and ourselves should be a priority.

      1. Thanks for your comment MaKenna. Yes, some women gain weight while breastfeeding. You can be so ravenous and end up eating all the wrong things. Because you end up craving sugar for quick energy.

      1. Yes yes yes, Brooke. When I heard that advice from the pediatrician with my first one, I was just baffled. Unless there is something medically wrong with them, you don’t need to do that.

    3. I love this! Wish I would have had it before I gave up! I feel like people make breastfeeding a LOT more complicated and scary than it needs to be for new moms that don’t know what to expect.

      1. Thank you for sharing, Jazmin. I definitely agree with you. There is a lot of misinformation that makes things confusing and complicated.

    4. There are so many myths out there. Thanks for dispelling them. My baby had a tongue tie and hiring a lactation consultant was the best thing I ever did!

      1. Thank you for sharing, Catherine. Ties are terrible. Mine didn’t get diagnosed till well past 6 weeks. At that point we more or less figured things out and didn’t reverse anything. But it’s so good when you get a good LC who can help diagnose and treat the issue.

    5. I wish the nurses that I dealt with knew about #1 when I had my first two kiddos.
      The nurse I had for most of the time when I had my third kiddo was so much better and didn’t push formula. She actually helped with the latch and brought in a LC. We had one in the whole county.

      1. Thank you for sharing, Melinda.That is so common. I had that experience with my first pediatrician. It’s awful and not supportive and also not very evidence based. I’m glad to hear that your third kiddos experience was better.

    6. Great piece! We just fed on demand. I think you can get on a schedule later but when the baby is little, I agree it’s best to just feed on demand.

      1. Thank you for sharing, Lynn. I think there are different ways that work for different families but it’s definitely possible to get on schedule once the baby is past the first months or so.

    7. For us our breastfeeding journey lasted 6 weeks (with both kids). I heard SO many of these myths. It ate me alive. In the end it turns out my kids both had tongue/lip ties and by the time I had them revised it was too late. I love all your truths about it and really appreciate you sharing this!!!

      1. Thank you for sharing, Krissy. Ties are so difficult. My first son had it and it was so difficult to feed him. And we also got it diagnosed way too late to do anything about it.

    8. Great article. Love learning new things about breast-feeding. I am currently breast-feeding my six month old and having such a wonderful experience. Definitely want others to experience the bond breast-feeding can provide.

    9. Mama, you hit on the nail with all of these myths! The one that especially sticks out to me is the losing weight one. Not all women lose the weight from strictly breastfeeding, and thats ok! Love this post1

      1. Thank you for your comment, Janitza. Yes, it so true. The weight loss during breastfeeding really gets to me. It’s not true for everyone.

    10. These are so great to share with all those breastfeeding mamas. It seems like there is always people with tons of ideas about breastfeeding even though they haven’t themselves.

    11. I totally agree with number 3. I made the mistake of following a sched0ule with my firstborn because I was scared I will not produce enough. I fed my second baby on demand and produced more milk. Helped us a lot with her sleeping too since she was always full.

      1. Thank you for sharing, Rianna. Yes, every experience is so different. And schedule feeding definitely needs to be approached with caution and not from the get go. It’s great that you had an easier time with your second.

    12. Ya I’ve never really lost weight from breastfeeding. Maybe a little bit but never the tons people make it out to be.

      1. Thanks for sharing, Sarah. The weight thing is such a toss up for people. That’s why I hate seeing it as a way to promote breastfeeding.

    13. Breastfeeding was so hard in the beginning. I struggled with cracked nipples and blisters constantly. I even got mastitis. I am proud to say that I pushed through it, and I can say we made it past a year breastfeeding now! Yay

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