Common Breastfeeding Misconceptions
In this curious world, everyone seems to have an opinion or a piece of advice to a breastfeeding mother. There are those who really mean well; however, there are also those who just want to pry. While breastfeeding moms can pick a few pointers from side comments, either solicited or otherwise, some wrong information is passed along due to a lack of proper education. Some of the advice, even from our parents and other medical practitioners, may not be altogether accurate.
This article aims to provide helpful information not only for first-time breastfeeding mothers but also for people who are tempted to comment on another woman’s choice on the matter.
Misconception 1. Breastfed babies feed a lot because they aren’t getting enough milk.
Fact: Breastfed babies feed a lot because breast milk is so easy to digest, thus they get hungrier sooner as compared to formula-fed babies. How much milk do breastfed babies need? Newborns must be fed every two to three hours.
Misconception 2. Breastfeeding makes your breasts saggy and it reduces their sensitivity.
Fact: This is pretty much an old wives’ tale. Experts believe that it’s the pregnancy that somewhat alters the look and feels of your breasts. It is said that breastfeeding does not cause any changes beyond that. The changes in the breast size and shape are affected not by nursing but mostly by age, effects of gravity, and weight gain. Instead of thinking too much about this myth, why don’t you focus on one great thing that breastfeeding does to your breasts? It reduces the risk of having breast cancer later in life!
Misconception 3. Small breasts do not produce as much milk as large ones.
Fact: Hogwash! Your whole body acts as the “storeroom” for your milk and not your breasts alone. Breast size has nothing to do with the amount of milk they produce. Take me as an example. My bra size is 32A but I can produce ample supply for my little one. She’s five years old now and still nurses.
Misconception 4: Mothers who went through breast-augmentation or breast-reduction surgery cannot breastfeed.
Fact: It depends on the procedure performed. “These days, implants are usually inserted near the armpit or under the breast tissue or chest muscle, which shouldn’t interfere with breastfeeding,” says Carol Huotari, I.B.C.L.C., manager of the Center for Breastfeeding Information at La Leche League International. “On the other hand, if you had surgery in which the nipple was removed to insert the implant and then reattached, breastfeeding may be hampered, as this procedure disrupts so many nerves that milk letdown is impaired. If you have had breast surgery, be sure to let your pediatrician know so she can keep a close watch on your baby’s weight gain.”
Misconception 5: You shouldn’t nurse if you have a blocked duct or breast infection.
Fact: I used to believe this. Because, duh, the “dede” was infected and painful. Why would I let the baby latch and be tormented? I was wrong. When there is a blocked duct or breast infection, the best way to treat it is to let the baby nurse as often because she can actually help in clearing the blocked duct through nursing. Besides frequent nursing, applying a heat compress before nursing can help clear a duct. Also, it is advised not to wear underwire bras, as they can be too constricting which might also lead to blocked ducts.
Misconception 6: Working mothers cannot breastfeed their youngsters.
Fact: I know a lot of full-time working mothers who are successfully breastfeeding their children. Their only difference with others who failed is their level of commitment. There is always a way. Express and preserve!
Did you know that a breastfeeding mother is entitled to an additional (not less than) 40 minutes of breaks for every 8-hour working period on top of her regular breaks? They are called lactation periods – which are compensated hours as mandated by law. With this law, breastfeeding moms can have at least 2-3 breast milk expressions within a workday.
Misconception 7: It’ll make your baby clingy and dependent.
Fact: I have yet to discover this as Skye grows up. Although according to studies, babies who benefitted from the attachment of breastfeeding tend to be more independent later in life.
Misconception 8: Mothers must stop breastfeeding when sick.
Fact: Taking a hiatus from breastfeeding will not protect your sweet little one from your ailment. In fact, by nursing even when you’re sick, you pass along protective antibodies that help your baby to stay healthy.
Misconception 9: New mothers do not make enough milk.
Fact: I wallowed in this myth myself. I am one of those first-time mothers who almost give up breastfeeding because I thought I am not producing enough milk to nourish my child. Through reading, I have learned that most mothers do not produce enough milk for three to five days after giving birth. So even if we think that our breasts are not giving away anything, we just have to let our newborn latch. We let them suck whatever our bodies can provide, even if we think they are not getting any. Because only through their saliva that our body will respond to improve milk production. Also, it is important to note that a newborn stomach is only as small as a cherry, it does not take more than a tablespoon of milk when the baby fed. But all of us make colostrum, the very important liquid that our baby needs for protection, we should not deprive them of the right to drink it.
Misconception 9: Breastfeeding is painful
Fact: Yes it is painful! My first few weeks of breastfeeding relationship with my daughter is very painful that I had to cry in between feeding. But I have learned later on that it was painful due to poor latching, improper position, and other reasons. If you experience pain during nursing, please seek help from a breastfeeding counselor/professional. You do not have to go through all the misery. Nursing your child must be a harmonious journey full of love and joy.
Do you have anything to add? Please leave it in the comment section below and together, let’s create a more informed public. Aja!
Note: The writer has no medical background. All that she has is a 2-day lactation training/seminar and more than 2 years of breastfeeding experience plus tons of readings and research. The writer advised that you still verify everything through research or by asking your lactation consultant or breastfeeding advocate doctors.
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