10 breastfeeding myths busted

Posted on August 3rd, 2015

Much of what you’ve been told about breastfeeding isn’t true. Midwife andrea klinkenberg has the facts.

Myth #1

You won’t have enough milk

It’s very rare for a mother not to produce enough breast milk. In fact, it’s more common for women to have more milk than is necessary. In the first few days after giving birth, it’s normal not to have an abundance of milk and many moms think they don’t have any. In fact, moms only secrete colostrum from their breasts in the first few days. Colostrum is a protein-rich milk with numerous benefits for the baby. A baby only needs about five to 10 millilitres of colostrum per feed. Sometimes, your baby may just want to suckle for comfort rather than because he’s hungry.

Myth #2

Colostrum shouldn’t be fed to your baby because it’s dirty

This false idea has been passed down from generation to generation. Most moms expect to see white milk immediately after their baby is born, but see clear or yellowish colostrum instead. Colostrum is all your newborn baby needs for those first few days after birth. It’s packed with protein, contains antibodies to protect him from infection and acts as a laxative to help him pass his first meconium stool. It takes around five days for your milk to come in after you’ve delivered.

Myth #3

You can’t fall pregnant while breastfeeding

Exclusive breastfeeding is no longer recommended as a reliable form of contraception. While it can help control ovulation in some women, it’s not foolproof and you are advised to take an oral contraceptive that’s deemed safe for breastfeeding mothers. Your obstetrician can advise you on the best form of contraception for your specific circumstances.

Myth #4

You won’t be able to breastfeed if you’ve had breast surgery

If you’ve had any kind of breast surgery, there’s a good chance that you’ll still be able to breastfeed. However, it depends on how the operation was performed and exactly what was done. If the surgeon hasn’t interrupted the connection between the nipple and the milk ducts, you shouldn’t have any issues. Consult your surgeon or doctor for advice.

Myth #5

Breastfeeding hurts

One of the most common misconceptions is that breastfeeding is painful. Although your nipples may be tender in the first few weeks of breastfeeding, it shouldn’t be a painful experience. If it hurts and you cringe in pain during breastfeeding, it’s quite possible that your baby is latching incorrectly or has tongue-tie (when your baby can’t bring his tongue forward enough to get the areola into his mouth). If you have pain while breastfeeding, it’s best to speak to a lactation consultant for advice. Cracked and bleeding nipples are another indication that the latch may be wrong.

Myth #6

You can judge how much milk you produce based on how much you can pump

A baby will always get more milk than your pump will. The pump is not as effective as the baby’s sucking action and, depending on when your let-down reflex happens, you could pump more, or less, milk. You can always tell that your baby is getting enough milk by the amount of weight he gains, how wet and dirty his nappies are, as well as whether he looks content and ‘milk drunk’ after a feed.

Myth#7

You should put your baby on a schedule as soon as possible

When you’re breastfeeding your baby, it’s best to feed on demand and avoid a strict routine. This means feeding your baby whenever he’s hungry. In the early days, it may feel like your baby is feeding all the time, because breast milk is easily digested and won’t keep him full for very long. All babies are different, so what works for one may not work for another. Although this sounds exhausting, you’ll find that your baby will settle into a natural schedule once he gets a bit older. A routine usually starts to form after the four- to six-week mark. It’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself or your baby.

Myth #8

You can’t give a breastfed baby a bottle because it will confuse him

This is often referred to as ‘nipple confusion’, but it’s a misleading phrase. The problem comes in when your baby takes preference to the bottle because it’s easier for him than breastfeeding. You can successfully breastfeed and give a baby a bottle, but it’s best to wait until you have comfortably established breastfeeding. To ensure that bottle feeding isn’t any easier for your baby, you can use a peristaltic teat on your bottles. This will ensure that your baby has to use the same sucking action as when breastfeeding (as opposed to the milk simply leaking out of the teat). It’s also important to remember that if you give more bottle than breast, your breast milk supply will start to dwindle. The more you breastfeed, the more milk you will naturally produce.

Myth #9

Bigger breasts produce more milk

There is no correlation between how much milk you’ll be able to produce and the size of your breasts. Some women naturally produce more milk than others. Make sure you eat a healthy diet, drink at least two litres of water a day, and take your multivitamins to encourage an adequate milk supply.

Myth #10

Mothers should stop breastfeeding if they have an infection

Although this largely depends on what kind of infection the mom has, and what treatment her doctor has prescribed, mothers often don’t have to stop breastfeeding when they have an infection. There are antibiotics that are considered safe for breastfeeding mothers and, at the end of the day, your doctor will help you decide if you need to stop breastfeeding.

*Originally published in july 2015.

 

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