Breastfeeding is essential for not only newborns but for mom too. Some women choose not to breastfeed and do formula instead. Though this is perfectly fine, it is beneficial that every new mom tries at least in the beginning to breastfeed their child, so they get what is called colostrum, which is the first form of milk a mother produces that is loaded with nutrients to help baby fight off disease.
Let’s not forget the bond a mother gets when breastfeeding her child.
Throughout the years, advice and tips have been passed down from mother to mother about breastfeeding. Some are true, some are not.
For example, a woman must eat only bland foods while breastfeeding. This is untrue. According to fitpregnancy.org, by the time the food a woman eats is digested and turned into breast milk, the potentially harmful elements of the meal have already been broken down and can’t affect the baby.
Some mothers do not know this though or believe it, and they go by the wait-and-see approach. After each meal, they wait-and-see if their baby is fine. If she or he becomes fussy for more than two to twelve hours, they cut the food completely out of their diets. If a woman is uncomfortable in just eating whatever and would like to try the wait-and-see approach, she should make sure to keep a food journal, this way she can keep track of all the different foods she cancels out.
Here are 25 myths and facts about breastfeeding.
25 Myth: You Can’t Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding
Fact: According to babycenter.com, breastfeeding does delay ovulation, but this doesn’t mean women should use this as a type of birth control unless they are comfortable getting pregnant again.
The delay with ovulating that comes with breastfeeding varies from woman to woman and is unpredictable.
Most women typically start their cycle again anywhere around a month after the baby is born. Some women though can go a year after their child is born without a cycle.
In the end, yes it can prevent pregnancy in some women, but a woman shouldn’t rely on just this method if she doesn’t want another baby so soon.
24 Myth: You Need To Toughen Your Skin Before The Baby Is Born
Fact: A woman doesn’t need to do anything to her breast before her child is born. Her body will prepare itself in expectation of the new arrival. In fact, according to healthychildren.org, tactics to toughen them may interfere with normal lactation.
An experienced mother going by the username tilly_mae, had this to say in response to an expecting mothers question on whattoexpect.com: “There is no such thing. I don't know why people say to use a washcloth on them. All you do is make your nipples sore before the baby even arrives.” She continues her blog post by saying, “What you need is a good nipple cream and lactation consultant. Breastfeeding is going to hurt when you first start out, but if you can get with the LC as soon as possible after your baby is born, they can help you with latching so that it hurts less.”
23 Myth: Smaller Sizes Don’t Produce Enough Milk
Fact: Breast size has nothing to do with how much milk a woman can produce.
Anne Smith, mother of six and an IBCLC, or International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant, wrote a blog on breastfeedingbasics.com about how she herself thought while pregnant with her first child, that she would not have enough milk to feed her baby. After six babies though, she learned that size does not matter.
She had this to say about what her career has shown her:
“For the past thirty-five years of working with nursing mothers whose breasts came in an amazing variety of shapes and sizes, I have discovered that having small breasts is not a disadvantage for the nursing mother. In fact, having large breasts can actually make nursing more challenging, because women with large breasts have to worry more about engorgement, positioning, latch on and support.”
22 Myth: Breastfeeding Ruins The “Girls”
Fact: Sadly, this is true. There are some women that are blessed with getting their pre-pregnancy breasts back after their child is born, for some women though, they are not so lucky. According to mommybites.com, women can suffer from ptosis, which is the medical term for drooping, deflation, or even skin changes, such as stretch marks.
The best ways a woman can try and prevent these issues is by wearing well-fitting and supportive bras at all times, even when she is sleeping, keeping her skin moisturized, this can help to prevent stretch marks, and by making sure to keep to regular pump or nurse schedule, this will help limit the swing in breast size from one extreme to another.
21 Myth: All Babies Should Be Weaned By Their First Birthday
Fact: Deciding when to stop breastfeeding is a very personal decision, one that varies from woman to woman. When considering when a woman wants to stop, she must take in different variables such as custom and individual preference, according to healthychildren.org.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the sole source of nutrition for a baby should be the mother’s breastmilk for the first six months of the child’s life.
After six months a mother can start to add solid foods to her child’s diet, while at the same time continuing to breastfeed him or her until at least 12 months of age.
Do not feel ashamed though to go longer. There are a lot of women that go way past the first birthday milestone.
20 Myth: Formula Babies Sleep Better
Fact: According to webmd.com, research as shown that babies who are fed on formula do not sleep better, although they may sleep longer.
Pat Sternum, who is an IBCLC, RN and lactation counselor at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, had this to say on the matter: “Because bottle milk doesn't get digested as quickly, it may be a longer stretch between feedings, so your baby may sleep longer.
There is a downside though. Because formula takes longer to digest, it will remain in the baby’s system longer than breast milk, which can cause it to ferment. The ending result in her words is, “ultra-stinky poop!”
Breastfed babies will start to sleep longer hours around 4 weeks old, soon after they will be sleeping the same amount of time as formula-fed babies.
19 Myth: Breastfed Babies Are Hungrier and Eat More
Fact: According to webmd.com, breast milk is probably the easiest source for the human body to digest, because of this, babies are generally hungrier a lot quicker than formula fed babies.
Kate Legging, an IBCLC and manager of the breastfeeding organization called, “La Leche League International,” says, “It’s appropriate for your breastfeeding newborn baby to eat every two to three hours.”
In the end, it is normal for a newborn baby to be hungry and want to be fed a lot. Just make sure to keep to a schedule and talk to a doctor if there are any concerns.
18 Myth: Resting Can Help Create More Milk
Fact: The more a woman nurses, the more milk she will make for her child. If a woman is to break her schedule to “rest” she can actually decrease the amount of milk she is producing.
Katy Lebbing says that the myth got started when women realized that skipping a feeding or pumping during the day resulted in a greater supply at night. Though this is true, the next day the breastfeeding mother will have less milk if she skips again.
"The only way to ensure a steady supply is to keep expressing milk as regularly as you can," says Lebbing. “You should nurse at least nine to 10 times a day to ensure milk production.”
17 Myth: Switching Back And Forth From Bottle To Breastfeeding Will Confuse Your Baby
Fact: Pat Sternum, an Rn, IBCLC and lactation counselor at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, answered this myth by explaining that babies suck on a nipple, but suckle on a breast. The difference between the two actions will rarely confuse them.
According to globalcitizen.org, if a mother is looking to return to work before her nursing time is up and would like to supplement her child’s feedings, then she should make sure to introduce the child to a bottle between the ages of two to six weeks. The bottle should have the mother’s milk in it, and during feeding, she should make sure to hold her baby close so she can still get bonding time with the baby, which is important.
Using the bottle each day for one or two feedings will teach the baby how to feed from the bottle, while still knowing how to feed from his or her mother’s breast.
16 Myth: Never Wake A Baby To Feed
Fact: In most cases, a child will wake one of his or her parents up every two to three hours when they are ready to eat.
However, according to globalcitizen.org, there are times when a baby can feed vigorously for two or three hours, which is known as “cluster feedings,” and then sleep longer than usual.
"It's okay to let them sleep a little longer than usual, but you should never have more than one four-and-a-half-hour period of sleeping per day," says Pat Sternum.
Meaning, if a child is regularly sleeping through his or her feedings times, then it is ok to wake them up to eat. It is important to keep to a feeding schedule, especially to keep a good supply of milk flowing if the mother is breastfeeding.
15 Myth: Breastfeeding Is Better For Babies IQ And Weight
Fact: The only advantage breastmilk has over formula is the antibodies that protect the baby from infection, according to Kathy Mason, a registered nurse and IBCLC with Riley Hospital for Children at the Indiana University of Health.
According to globalcitizen.org, Ohio State University did a study back in 2014 where they studied a few families, some with children that had been breastfed and some with children that had been formula fed, the ending result, there was no advantage in one child over the other.
If a mother is unable to breastfeed or decides she does not want to, then she can rest easy knowing that this myth seems to be overstated when it comes to the baby’s weight and intelligence.
14 Myth: It Helps To Shed Baby Weight
Fact: This may come as a shocker, but this myth is actually true.
Research has shown that mothers who breastfeed their babies tend to lose about 300 to 500 extra calories a day and slim down faster compared to mothers who have chosen to bottle feed their babies.
Another benefit, according to globalcitizen.org, is that breastfeeding also releases a hormone that triggers a woman’s uterus to return to its pre-baby size and weight faster.
"When the baby starts nursing you can actually feel uterine contractions as it starts to shrink," says Kathy Mason. "It's nature's way of getting your body back into shape."
13 Myth: It’s Normal To Struggle
Fact: Breastfeeding is not easy. Some women, especially first-time moms, will struggle at first. They have options though that can help. Some hospitals have breastfeeding support groups and some even offer out-patient consultations. There are even classes an expecting mother can take before the baby comes that will school her and even dad on everything they need to know, according to globalciziten.com.
In 2013 Pediatrics published a survey they showed 92% of new mothers had a least one issue on the third day of breastfeeding.
"Unfortunately, we send moms home from the hospital after just two days, and the days immediately after that are the hardest ones for breastfeeding," Kathy Mason.
The survey also showed that 13% of new mothers only breastfed for the recommended six months due to issues.
12 Myth: It Protects Against Post-Partum Depression
Fact: The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine published a study in 2012 that was done on women who breastfed their children. According to globalcitizen.org, the study found that women who breastfeed are less likely to be diagnosed with postpartum depression over the first four months than those mothers who chose to bottle-feed their children.
It is still unknown to researchers why this is, but Kathy Mason suspects it has something to do with the oxytocin’s or the “feel-good hormones” produced from nursing a child.
"Plus, if breastfeeding is going well, it helps mom feel confident that she's able to provide for her baby," she adds.
11 Myth: You Cant Breastfeed After Surgery
Fact: According to globalciziten.org, Kathy Mason reported that she had seen many women come in to give birth that had breast implants before their children were conceived and they were able to nurse their babies.
When a woman gets breasti mplants, the surgeon performs the surgery alone the underside of the woman’s breast, which in turn does not interfere with milk production or delivery.
In fact, it is women with breast reductions that may have the most difficulty, especially if the nerve ending were cut around the nipple during surgery.
"You may not know until you try to nurse," Mason says.
10 Myth: It’s Supposed To Be Painful
Fact: Breastfeeding differs from woman to woman. Some women may have it easy, while some woman might struggle and experience some discomfort or pain.
According to globalcitizen.org, "A lot of moms expect breastfeeding to hurt, and it is true that mom's nipples may feel tender for the first couple of weeks," says Kathy Mason. "But if the baby's latching properly, there shouldn't be real pain or soreness."
Therefore, it is important to talk to a lactation consultant at the hospital and even after the new mother goes home. A lactation consultant can help make the process comfortable for both the new mother and baby.
9 Myth: It’s Important To Keep Hydrated
Fact: A breastfeeding mother needs to make sure she keeps hydrated. According to globalcitizen.org, not drinking enough milk can affect how much breastmilk a mother is producing for her baby.
Kathy Mason says, "You don't have to drink until it's coming out of your ears; in fact, research suggests that overhydration can also decrease milk production, just as dehydration can."
Meaning, make breastfeeding mothers need to make sure that they stay hydrated, but don’t overdue it. A person can judge how hydrated they are by their urine color. Light yellow means the person is hydrated enough, dark means they need to drink more.
8 Myth: Breastmilk Stays The Same As Your Baby Grows
Fact: This myth is untrue. According to globalcitizen.org, as the baby grows, the nutritional profile of the milk will change to provide the child with the proper nutrition that he or she needs. Milk made for a three-month-old will be different for a nine-month-old. It will become higher in protein and thicker to supply.
Milk can also change on a day to day basis. For example, the water content in breastmilk will change during times of hot weather and even when the baby is sick. By doing this, it is providing the baby with extra hydration.
It is interesting how the body works.
7 Myth: Breastmilk Doesn’t Increase A Child’s Survival Rate
Fact: This is false. According to globalcitizen.org, breastfed babies have at least six times more of a chance of survival in their earlier months than non-breastfed babies, which is why it is so important to at least to try and breastfeed babies when they are born.
The reason for this is due to all the nutrients found inside of breastmilk. The nutrients help to strengthen a baby’s immune system.
Nutrients aren’t the only thing that is found in breastmilk though. It is also filled with disease-fighting bacteria. The bacteria found in the milk will help to keep a baby’s digestive system functioning properly.
6 Myth: Breastmilk Is Not Liquid Gold
Fact: This is false. Breastmilk is, in fact, liquid gold for babies.
Breastmilk is loaded with all different kinds of nutrients and disease-fighting bacteria, as stated above, that a child needs, which is why it is considered liquid gold.
If a mother makes sure to keep on a good feeding schedule and make sure her baby stays nourished for the first 1,000 days of his or her life, then she is guaranteeing him or her to be able to reach their full potential. Breastmilk ensures the greatest hope for a full future, a golden future, according to globalcitizen.org.
5 Myth: Malnourished Mothers Can’t Breastfeed
Fact: According to globalcitizen.org, malnourished mothers can breastfeed their children in any circumstance. However, she needs to find some way to replenish all the nutrients she is losing from breastfeeding. This is why it is normal for a breastfeeding mother to eat and drink more than normal.
Additionally, mothers who are breastfeeding are encouraged to make sure they do it as much as possible. By keeping a schedule, a mother is not only ensuring that she is keeping her baby fed and nourished, but also making sure that her body is creating a steady supply of milk for her child.
4 Myth: Stress Makes A Mother Unable To Breastfeed
Fact: Stress may slow the release of milk, but it does not prevent a mother from being able to breastfeed her child. According to globalcitizen.org, the only thing, besides slow milk release, that stress will do to a mother and her child is making the baby fussy.
Babies can sense when a mother is agitated or stress and will become upset themselves.
When a mother makes sure to keep a steady schedule when it comes to breastfeeding, she is not only making sure her body is creating a steady supply of milk, but also ensuring that her baby is getting the proper nutrients he or she needs to grow, while at the same time, creating a hormone that helps to keep the baby calm and relaxed during feedings.
When the mother’s child receives enough milk, he or she won’t be fussy anymore. It is important that the mother keeps not only her own stress levels down, but her child’s too.
3 Myth: Babies With An Upset Tummy Need To Stop Breastfeeding
Fact: This is false. A mother should make sure to keep breastfeeding even when a baby is sick or on hot days.
Water actually makes up about 90% of breastmilk, making it the main ingredient, according to globalcitizen.org. When a mother breastfeeds her baby, she is helping to keep him or her hydrated, which is what is needed when they have upset tummies or even on hot days. Without it, a mother is endangering her child’s immune system.
What most new mothers don’t know is that breastmilk actually has disease-fighting bacteria in it, as stated previously. The bacteria in the milk helps to keep a baby’s immune system functioning properly.
2 Myth: If You Stop Breastfeeding, You Can’t Do It Again
Fact: A woman who has breastfed in the past, or even a woman who has diminished breastmilk, can breastfeed again if necessary. Even a woman who has never been pregnant before can produce milk if needed, according to bellybelly.com
The process in which a woman who has produced milk in the past begins to produce again is called Relactation.
When a woman becomes pregnant, birth tends to set things into motion to prepare her breasts to make milk. Once they are making milk, milk removal is what keeps them providing. However, breast or nipple stimulation, such as a baby suckling, can help stimulate the breast into producing milk, even in the absence of pregnancy.
1 Myth: Breastfeeding Has No Benefits For Mom
Fact: Breastmilk is not known for just being liquid gold for the baby, it is also liquid gold for mom.
Women who breastfeed have been found to lose their baby weight a lot faster than those that choose not to breastfeed. As stated previously, according to globalcitizen.org, breastfeeding can help women lose 300 to 500 calories a day.
On top of that, breastmilk also has a hormone in it that helps to soothe and calm the baby. Which can be helpful in those times that the baby is fussy.
Long-term effects breastfeeding has for mothers include the reduction of type 2 diabetes and even certain cancers such as breast, uterine, and ovarian.
References: mommybites.com, breastfeedingbasics.com, whattoexpect.com, healthychildren.org, babycenter.com, healthychildren.org, webmd.com, health.com, globalcitizen.org, bellybelly.com, fitpregnancy.com