10 breastfeeding myths dispelled

Breastfeeding is a hot topic amongst pregnant, new and even the not so new moms. Advice and opinions are often freely tossed around in these groups, and while most of the time this advice is welcome, it is not always accurate. Breastfeeding beliefs and understanding have changed over the years, yet incorrect advice has often been passed through many generations.

Lets separate fact from fiction to guide you along your breastfeeding journey:

Myth 1: It is normal for breastfeeding to hurt

While a new mother will experience some tenderness during the early days of breastfeeding, this should soon pass and should never be bad enough that the mother dreads breastfeeding. If you are experiencing unbearable pain, be sure to have your baby’s latch checked and possibly corrected. Breastfeeding should be a calm and enjoyable experience for both mother and baby.

Myth 2: Most women do not produce enough milk

In truth, it is uncommon for a mother to produce too little milk for her baby – what we are seeing more and more is that the quality of a mother’s milk is dropping which can lead to poor weight gain for baby. Many mothers underestimate the power of their own diet during breastfeeding and the role that this plays in their breastmilk. It is extremely important that moms focus on eating healthy fats and proteins and that they avoid sugars, carbs and fruit juices. By doing this they will improve both the quality and quantity of their milk.

Often what is perceived as a low milk supply is rather an incorrect latch which results in poor milk extraction and then ultimately causes a genuine low supply.

A genuine low milk supply can usually be corrected with a little work. Should a mother be concerned about her milk supply she should contact a lactation consultant immediately to confirm and correct the problem while determining the best way to continue to meet her baby’s nutritional needs.

Myth 3: a newborn baby needs top ups until your milk comes in

No, no and no, a healthy newborn needs ONLY colostrum. During the first few days following birth, your body will produce the most amazing substance called COLOSTRUM. This is a thick yellowish fluid that is densely packed with nutrients, antibodies and immunoglobulins. Colostrum will have a laxative effect on your baby which helps to eliminate meconium therefore minimising jaundice – it is LIQUID GOLD and your baby needs just 5-7mls of colostrum per feed. Should your baby seem hungry even after feeding, consult with a lactation specialist to assist before allowing top ups. Colostrum will change to milk on around day 3 post delivery.

Myth 4: if babies feed a lot, it means they are not getting enough milk

Breastmilk is much gentler on your babies gut than artificial milk is. For this reason, it is also digested faster than what artificial milk is. It is completely normal for a newborn baby to feed every two to three hours

Myth 5: pumping is a good way of telling how much milk I have

Your baby is the VERY BEST milk extractor – no pump in the world will ever extract milk like your baby can. Pumping will only tell you how much milk you can pump.

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Myth 6: women with small breasts produce less milk

The amount of milk that one can produce comes down to the number of milk producing glands one has. Large breasts may be made up almost entirely of fatty tissue while small breasts may be made up entirely of milk glands. Size is certainly not an indication of how much milk you will be able to produce.

Myth 7: taking a break helps build up my supply

No, regularly emptying your breasts effectively helps build up a good supply. Breastmilk works on a supply & demand basis so the more you empty, the more your body will make

Myth 8: breastfeeding mothers must always feed off of both breasts

This depends entirely on your baby and your supply and it may even change as your baby gets older. Many women alternate breasts for each feed and some have successfully fed off of only one breast entirely. The most important thing is that you allow baby to adequately empty your breast before moving to the next one, thus ensuring the consumption of nutrient rich hind milk.

Myth 9: the mother should not become a dummy to the baby

Babies need to be comforted and the mother is the first source of comfort. Added to this, feeding is about so much more than just packing nutrients into your child – feeding is about nourishing, nurturing and comforting. Time at the breast should always be a happy, safe and calm time, full of cuddles and comfort.While some infants’ sucking needs are met primarily during feedings, other babies may need additional sucking at the breast soon after a feeding even though they are not really hungry. Babies may also need to nurse or just suckle when they are lonely, frightened or in pain. As long as the prolonged suckling is not causing any pain or stress for mom, there is nothing wrong with a little comfort sucking.

Gentle sucking has also shown to improve a low milk supply – even when milk is not being extracted.

Myth 10 : a breastfed baby should not use a dummy

I am very pro dummy – more so than many breastfeeding specialists.

I completely agree that misguided bottle use can cause nipple confusion (it is more difficult to extract milk from the breast and once exposed to a bottle very young babies seem to take preference to this) but when it comes to the dummy, babies learn very quickly that they will get milk from the breast and not from the dummy.

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Article by breastfeeding consultant Jenna Richards