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Breastfeeding is one of the most frequent talked about topics for new moms. Despite all of the information available, there are so many ideas breastfeeding moms think are true but are actually myths.
Let’s face it: when you become a new mom, you’re clueless.
When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, I didn’t give much thought to what breastfeeding would be like. My perception of breastfeeding was that it was natural so how hard could it be?
Little did I know that although I didn’t have a lot of breastfeeding challenges, it still affected my body and my mind and it wasn’t as easy as it seemed.
Like many moms, I worried whether my milk supply was low, if my baby was getting enough and if that excruciating nipple pain was actually normal. As I continued to breastfeed, research and write about breastfeeding at Fox News, I was amazed by all of the ideas moms are told—and start to believe—about breastfeeding that simply aren’t true.
Here are 7 of the most common breastfeeding myths and the real truths.
Breastfeeding myth #1: Breastfeeding is easy.
Next to pregnancy and giving birth, breastfeeding is certainly the most amazing, natural thing your body can do but breastfeeding isn’t all butterflies and roses.
Like anything when you’re a mom (new or seasoned), there’s a learning curve. You can’t expect to put your baby to the breast and ba-boom!, everything is easygoing. You have to make sure your latch and position are correct, your baby is gulping, swallowing, feeding regularly and gaining weight.
If your nipples are inverted or your baby is tongue-tied, for example, breastfeeding can be challenging. And unlike bottle-feeding, your baby has to work harder to get the milk, you may find that you’re not breastfeeding according to a schedule and you might have to breastfeed more frequently.
The key to make breastfeeding easier is to get support—through La Leche League, a new mom’s group or from a friend who can help you out.
Breastfeeding myth #2: Low milk supply is common.
How many times has a mom told you she stopped breastfeeding because her milk supply was low and her baby was hungry all the time?
Low milk supply is actually one of the most common reasons moms throw in towel early or supplement with formula. In fact, 49 percent of mothers said they stopped breastfeeding after two months because breast milk alone wasn’t enough to satisfy their babies.
What’s interesting is that the data on moms who have low milk supply isn’t clear. Rachel O’Brien, a lactation consultant in Sudbury, Massachusetts has a great blog series on low milk supply I recommend you check out.
When you feed your baby a bottle, you know how much he ate but when you’re breastfeeding, it’s not so easy. Some of the ways to tell that your milk supply is just fine include your baby’s gaining weight, he has a certain amount of weight diapers a day and he’s hitting his developmental milestones.
If you’re uncertain, make an appointment with a lactation consultant who can weigh your baby right after you feed him to make sure he’s getting enough breast milk.
Breastfeeding myth #3: Breastfeeding is painful.
You may have read horror stories of moms who say their nipples are cracked and bleeding and breastfeeding was painful.
Yet when your latch is correct, breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful. One reason it might be painful is tongue-tie, which from experience, is very painful.
If breastfeeding is painful for you and you’re uncertain why, talk to a lactation consultant.
Breastfeeding myth #4: Breastfed babies eat on a schedule.
During the first few months you might feel like you’re constantly breastfeeding and you’d be right.
When I had my second child, I saw a lactation consultant and told her the Babywise methodology, the eat, play, sleep schedule that had worked perfectly with my older daughter wasn’t working at all with my second. Instead, she wanted to eat all. the. time. and I was one tired mama.
Unlike formula-fed babies who eat on a schedule and can go longer between feedings, breast milk is digested quickly and the truth is newborns eat all the time.
Breastfeeding myth #5: The foods you eat can give your baby gas.
When my daughter was a newborn it seemed that she would often have gas, especially right before bedtime. I used to think maybe it was what I was eating, since I usually eat green leafy vegetables and beans but research doesn’t back it up. So go ahead and eat healthy—it’s good for your baby too.
Breastfeeding myth #6: Breastfeeding will help you lose the baby weight.
The day I left the hospital with my first child, the neonatal nurse told me if I continued to breastfeed, “the weight would melt right off.” That was good news for a mama who had gained too much weight during pregnancy.
She was right. I exclusively breastfed, ate healthy and exercised regularly and I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight in just a few months.
Although breastfeeding can help you lose weight, how much you’ll lose and how fast depends on how long you exclusively breastfeed for, how much you gained during your pregnancy, as well as your diet and exercise habits after you give birth.
Breastfeeding myth #7: If you drink, you’ll have to pump and dum
If you want to have a drink when you’re breastfeeding, you may have heard that you have to “pump and dump” but that’s not true.
In fact, the same amount of alcohol that clears from your bloodstream is the same amount that leaves your breast milk so pumping your breast milk makes no difference at all. It takes about 2 hours to metabolize one serving of alcohol, like a 4-ounce glass of wine.
What you should know however, is that newborns will metabolize alcohol differently than older babies. You can use Milkscreen test strips, but they will only tell you if alcohol is in your breast milk, not how much.
Of course, drinking while breastfeeding is your own personal choice but if you do choose to, the safest way is to have only one drink and enjoy it right after you feed your baby.