The first week in August is World Breastfeeding Week, and therefore I thouhgt it was a good idea to bust some myths about breastfeeding.
Myth 1: It is normal for breastfeeding to hurt.
No, breastfeeding should be comfortable. Breastfeeding the first days (weeks) after birth can be tender and cause some discomfort, but it should never hurt for long. Some women experience latch-on pain, but that should last less then 30 sec into the feeding and normally goes away after a couple of weeks. If you dread breastfeeding because of pain and sore nipples, get help from a professional.
Myth 2: You should toughen up your nipples before breastfeeding.
No! You dont have to toughen up your nipples before you start breastfeeding.
Myth 3: You should wash your nipples before breastfeeding.
No, washing is not necessary. Your nipples actually produce a substance that the baby can smell and has good bacteria that helps to build your babys own healthy immune system for life.
Myth 4: If you have small breast you will not make enough milk to your baby.
No, your breast size does not determine your ability to produce breastmilk. Women with larger breasts have more fat tissue in their breasts, but they do not necessarily hava a greater amount of milk-making tissue.
Myth 5: You should not breastfeed if you are sick.
No, you can often continue to breastfeed even if you are sick. Breastmilk gives you baby the best protection against sickness. The antibodies in your milk will help to develop your babys immune system so it can help fight off illnesses. Just make sure to rest, east and rink plenty.
Myth 6: Many women do not produce enough breastmilk.
No, most women do åroduce enough mil. Generally low milk production is due to less stimulation of the breast from nursing. If your baby is not latching on properly it will not get the milk out that is there, and not stimulate to further production of milk. Therefore, it is so important to get hekp with a proper latch form day one.
Myth 7: If your babys latch looks perfect, then is is good.
No, even if your babys latch looks perfect from the outside, if it causes you pain or is not effective (meaning your baby is not able to remove much milk from your breasts) then it is not a good latch, and it needs to be adjusted.
Myth 8: You cant breastfeed if you are taking medication.
Many medications are safe to take even if you breastfeed, so often there is no need to stop breastfeeding. It is very important that you tell your doctor that you are breastfeeding, so your doctor can find alternatives that are safe while breastfeeding.
Myth 9: Pumping is a good way if knowing how much milk you produce.
No, a baby that has a good latch and feed well will remove more milk than a pump. So you dont have to worry about low milk production just because you cant pump out a lot of milk,
Myth 10: Exercise will make your milk taste bad.
It has been suggested that exercise can produce high levels of lactic acid in breastmilk and making it taste badly. However, studies have shown that babys dont seem to notice.
Myth 11: Stop breastfeeding if your baby has diarrhea or is vomiting.
No, continue to breastfeed since your milk is the best medicine and your baby needs fluid.
Myth 12: If you had a breast reduction or breast augmentation you cant breastfeed.
No, many women that have undergone surgery can still breastfeed their babies, but it will depend on the surgery and the amount of damage to the nerves and milk making tissue. If the nipple was partial attached during surgery the chances are higher than if the nipple was removed during surgery.
Myth 13: Breastfeeding is easy.
Even if your baby is born with the reflex to search and feed from your breasts, breastfeeding takes time, practice, patient and persistence. To succeed with breastfeeding women often need both practical support with correct latch and positioning, but also emotional support from their partner and close family.
Myth 14: If you have flat or inverted nipples you cant breastfeed.
For most women, nipple shape does not impact on breastfeeding. Remember, your baby feed on your breast, not your nipple. However, if you are having trouble, seek help from an experienced lactation consultant.
Myth 15: Your baby only needs to latch on to your nipple.
No, your baby should have a deep mouthful of breast with their lower lip covering the base of your areola and a little bit of the areola tissue showing above their upper lip.
Myth 16: You should breastfeed your baby on a schedule.
No, normally your baby should be breastfed on demand. Remember, babies have tiny stomachs so they can just suck a little milk every time they feed and breastmilk gets digested quickly.
Myth 17: Breastfeeding at night is not important.
The levels of prolactin, which is the hormone responsible for milk production, is highest at night. Therefore, breastfeeding at night is very important for milk production.
Myth 18: If your breasts dont feel full, there is little or no milk.
No, even if your breasts feel soft and not full, they can still be full of milk, and it is normal after breastfeeding for a while. Your breasts will produce milk when you breastfeed and they will never be empty.
Myth 19: you need to pump and dump breastmilk after drinking alcohol.
No, you can enjoy a glass of wine or a beer without having to throw away the milk. The amount of alcohol that gets in your milk is relatively small. In general, alcohol peaks in your blood and milk after 30-60 minutes, so try timing your next feeding to a couple of hours after your alcohol consumption. A newborns liver is very immature, while an older baby metabolize alcohol quicker. Pumping and dumping does not speed up the alcohol leaving your milk.
Myth 20: Breastfeeding in a side-lying position can cause ear infections.
No, several studies havs shown that breastfeeding while side-lying is not a risk factor for ear infections. However, drinking formula from a bottle while lying down can lead to ear infections.
Myth 21: Breastmilk looses its nutritional value when your baby is (insert a number) months/years old.
No, breastmilk never looses is nutritional value, but it will change when your baby gets older and adapt to your babys needs. Your milk is an important source of nutrition and immune protective factors for as long as your child breastfeeds.
Myth 22: Breastfeeding past (insert a number) months/years year will make your child dependent and cause psychological harm.
No, no, no. There is no research showing that breastfeeding an older baby or child is harmful for the baby or the mother. On the contrary, it has been shown that by providing closeness, comfort and support that breastfeeding enables, a toddler has a greater sense of security and may be more likely to try new things independently because of it.
Myth 23: It is not natural to breastfeed an older child.
No. WHO recommend breastfeeding up to two years of age or beyond, and natural age of weaning in humans has been estimated to be between 2 and 7 years. In other words, there is nothing unnatural in breastfeeding an older child. Breastfeeding creates an unique bond between you and your baby, and how long you choose to breastfeed is a personal choice, and you should feel supported whatever you choose.
Myth 24: Women who nurse past (insert a number) are doing it for their own benefit.
Seriously, I almost don’t know what to respond to this. You can never force a child to breastfeed. This myth really has to stop.
Myth 25: Don’t breastfeed to sleep, your baby needs to learn how to fall asleep on its own.
No, breastfeeding to sleep is totally normal and it is an easy way to help your baby fall asleep when they don't yet have the ability to self soothe. Breastmilk also contains sleep-inducing hormones. Falling asleep without breastfeeding is a developmental milestone that your baby will reach when she is ready.
Myth 26: Some women have low quality breastmilk.
No, your breastmilk will almost always be nutritionally ideal for your baby. Your body will take nutrients from you to supply your baby, and therefore even severely malnourished mothers can produce great breastmilk.
Myth 27: If you breastfeed to often, your baby will use you as a pacifier.
No, your are never a pacifier for your baby. Breastfeeding is not just about food and nutrition. Your baby breastfeeds because of many reasons, including being tired, in pain, feeling hurt, lonely, bored, overstimulated, in the need for a cuddle and much more. Letting your baby be close to you when your baby needs you will help to form a strong bond between you and your baby.
Myth 28: Breastfeeding and holding your baby too much will spoil them
No, you can not spoil your baby by responding on their needs. Research have shown that babies who are held and nursed frequently, cry fewer hours a day, exhibit secured feelings and go on to be confident, mature and adventurous too. Those first bonding experiences between you and your baby sets the tone for all future relationships in life.
Myth 29: If you are pregnant, you have to stop breastfeeding.
In general, most women can continue breastfeeding through pregnancy. However, some women will experience that their milk supply decreases due to the hormones of pregnancy, leading to that the baby wean themselves.
Myth 30: General doctors, obstetricians, midwifes etc have good knowledge and are qualified to give advice about breastfeeding.
Unfortunately, many of these professional receive very little breastfeeding education in their degrees, and their knowledge might be lacking. Some care providers are genuinely interested in breastfeeding, and will seek additional knowledge and give great support and advice. However, if you are unsure or not happy with the advice given from a care provider, see someone that has specialized in breastfeeding.
Myth 31: Breastfeeding causes tooth decay.
No, studies have shown that breastfeeding alone does not appear to cause tooth decay. So you don’t have to (night) wean you baby when they get teeth. However, other food can cause tooth decay, so good oral hygiene is important.
Myth 32: Only the birth mother can breastfeed.
No, you don’t have to give birth to a child to be able to breastfeed. If you adopt or are in a same-sex relationship where your partner has given birth, you can try induce lactation. Induced lactation will require a lot of work, dedication and preparation, but it can provide you with a beautiful way
to bond with your baby and enjoy the many benefits of breastfeeding.
Myth 33: You are a bad mom if you dont breastfeed.
No, you are not. Even though breastfeeding provides amazing benefits for both you and your baby, some women are unable, or doesn’t want to breastfeed for different reasons. This does not make anyone who supplements breast milk with formula, or relies entirely on formula a bad mother! The most important thing is that you provide your baby with nutrients that will help them grow big and strong, and taht you give them as much love and comfort as you can.
I hope by busting these myths about breastfeeding more women can feel empowered to breastfeed for as long as they want to.