Breastfeeding is a wonderful and rewarding experience, but it is not without its difficulties. Among those difficulties? Deciphering between which breastfeeding issues are myths and which are true! Researching all that comes with breastfeeding and all than can go wrong is stressful, but it doesn’t have to be when you know what’s fact and what’s fiction. You should definitely take your concerns to a pediatrician or lactation consultant for assistance! In the meantime, here are some breastfeeding myths you should stop believing right now.
Myth #1: Breastfeeding is painful for the first few weeks.
It’s common to have nipple tenderness initially, but breastfeeding should not be painful. If it is, it may be because you’re suffering from an infection, or there is something wrong with baby’s latch, or your breasts are overly full in the early days. A lactation consultant can help you figure out the problem, get you back on track, and save you a lot of agony!
Takeaway: Breastfeeding should NOT be painful.
Myth #2: Engorgement is a sign that everything is going well.
One of the signs milk is coming in is your breasts become fuller and firmer in what’s known as engorgement. Some engorgement after birth is simply a sign that your body hasn’t caught up to the changes in demand for nursing. However, engorgement often indicates latch issues or an oversupply of milk. Not to worry, these issues can be fixed by trying different positions, massaging your breasts, or feeding more frequently.
Takeaway: Prolonged engorgement is not normal.
Myth#3: A baby should be on the breast for XXX amount of time.
Some people think that if your baby can’t feed as long as you want her to, there’s something wrong with her. That’s rarely the case. Some babies simply like to take their time, and others prefer to get it done quickly. During the first few weeks of breastfeeding, don’t worry about sticking to a schedule. Adjust to when your baby is hungry, feeding her several times a day for as long as she needs. What’s important is that baby is gaining weight and producing enough soiled diapers every day.
Takeaway: Babies move at different speeds!
Myth #4: If your baby doesn’t breastfeed in the first week, they probably never will.
Some babies don’t get the hang of breastfeeding straight away. That doesn’t mean it’s not still possible to breastfeed! A lactation consultant can help you re-lactate.
Takeaway: Never say never.
Myth #5: If you have flat nipples/big nipples/large breasts/small breasts/etc. your baby won’t be able to latch.
Breasts and nipples come in all shapes and sizes, which does not affect milk supply or breastfeeding success. Breasts from A to Z are able to make plenty of milk, and babies can feed successfully regardless of the size of your nipples. There are ways to encourage baby to latch on comfortably, such as compressing the breast or trying different positions until baby gets it.
Takeaway: ALL breasts are great for breastfeeding!
Myth #6: Once the baby takes a bottle, she won’t go back to the breast.
Sometimes it’s necessary for you to bottle-feed, and sometimes babies gets nipple-confused (they have trouble going from breast to bottle and back again). Because bottle nipples let the milk flow into baby’s mouth faster, he may not want to work so hard at the breast anymore. You can help by using a bottle system, such as a slow-flow nipple, that mimics his natural breastfeeding motions so drinking from a bottle is more like drinking from the breast. To avoid trouble, it’s recommended to delay bottle feeding until breastfeeding is established, usually 4 to 6 weeks.
Takeaway: Bottles and breasts don’t have to be enemies.
Myth #7: Breastfeeding takes too much energy.
Being a mama is hard work! But think about this: Breastfeeding saves all the work of mixing, cleaning, and transporting bottles. It releases hormones that help you feel more relaxed. And, research shows that breastfeeding moms get more and better sleep. As a bonus, breastfeeding helps you return to your pre-pregnancy size and weight faster!
Takeaway: Breastfeeding is a give and take.
Myth #8: You should stop breastfeeding if you’re sick.
If you have a cold or flu, keep on breastfeeding. Your baby will be exposed to any illness you get, but your milk will provide antibodies to help his developing immune system fight that illness and help him stay healthy (If you switch to formula when you are sick, your baby won’t get those antibodies to protect him!). Remember, it’s still important to protect your environment – make sure you wash your hands, avoid coughing near baby, and disinfect surfaces and items baby may touch. And don’t forget to check with your lactation consultant before taking any medicine!
Takeaway: Breastfeeding protects baby from illness.
There ya go, mama. You can walk into this season with confidence, knowing that some ideas people have about breastfeeding simply aren’t true. When all is said and done, you’re the mom and if you want to breastfeed but you’re afraid of myths you may have heard, do some research and make decisions based on what feels right for you!