Common Breastfeeding Misconceptions Every New Mother Should Know
- I won’t be able to make enough milk. FALSE
99% of women are physically able to breastfeed! The first 3-5 days after birth colostrum is produced. Colostrum comes a little at a time and is very concentrated. This is perfect so the baby can drink a little and then rest/sleep. It seems like a small amount of fluid, but it is enough. It is perfectly normal and healthy if a baby wants to sleep for 7 hours or so after birth. Babies are born with brown fat, like bears, so they can hibernate. After Mom and baby have had a few days to recuperate from the birthing experience the milk supply will increase. Mothers produce as much as the baby asks for by sucking, demand and supply, supply and demand. Unfortunately, many women mistakenly believe that they can’t nurse, don’t have enough milk and that their body has failed. It is extremely rare for a woman (or any other mammal) to be unable to adequately nourish her child unless she is starving, and has been for days.
- Artificial breast milk (formula) is just as good as breast milk. FALSE
Mammalian milk has evolved to meet the highly specific needs of each particular species. Human milk contains the exact nutrients in the perfect balance to grow the complex brains and bodies of our infants. It contains living immune factors to protect the health of the child which can not be scientifically manufactured. The heating process kills them. By mechanisms that are still poorly understood, human breast milk stimulates healthy development of the immune system and metabolism which benefits babies over their lifetimes. Children who are breastfed for a year (or ideally two or more) suffer from less of every known disease, not just as infants, but throughout their entire lifetime.
The benefits of breastfeeding include protection against ear infections, stomach ailments and severe lower respiratory infections. In addition, breastfeeding is associated with lower rates of sudden infant death syndrome, childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, and leukemia. Maternal health benefits of breastfeeding were also identified. Women who have breastfed show reduced risk for type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.
- It is OK to give baby a bottle of artificial breast milk (formula) once in a while.FALSE
Think about this very seriously. Each time artificial breast milk (formula) is given, it takes two weeks before the normal flora in baby’s tummy returns to optimal efficiency. Moreover, substitutes for human breast milk, artificial formulas, can’t come close to Mother Nature’s perfect food. Better not to mess up a good thing.
- I have to stop breastfeeding when I go back to work. FALSE
More and more businesses are providing a place for moms to pump breast At around 6 months of age babies are old enough to eat some food and drink water till Mom comes home. When Mom comes home from work, breastfeeding is a wonderful way for Baby and Mom to reconnect. As the baby drinks, oxytocin is released to both Mom and Baby, a happy, feel good, hormone. Exhale!
- When baby gets teeth I have to stop breastfeeding or I’ll be bitten. FALSE
It is very easy to get a baby to stop biting. No need for yelling or hitting and it only takes three times. You do have to be clear, but it’s simple. When baby bites it doesn’t know it is hurting you. Baby only knows it is getting teeth and biting is natural. To let baby know this is not going to continue, immediately remove the baby from the breast. The message is much clearer, baby will understand faster, if there is no anger to confuse or frighten. Simply take the breast away for long enough that the baby notices and can begin to connect it’s actions with the result. This takes less than a minute then resume nursing. After three times the baby will know what happens and won’t bite again.
- Breastfeeding hurts. FALSE
The way to prevent sore nipples is positioning. A newborn baby, brand new, the first hour of life, can crawl up a reclining Mom and correctly position itself and successfully breastfeed. I’m talking about a baby that doesn’t have drugs in it. Breastfeeding is more efficient when baby has more of the areola to work on with the lower jaw. So get lots of breast into baby’s mouth. If baby is working on the nipples, it’s unproductive. Little milk comes out and there’s lots of friction on nipples. OUCH! Dr. Jack Newman on “Breastfeeding Online” has some excellent videos of efficient breastfeeding. So get those nipples deep into the mouth. It’s easier for Baby, baby gets more milk with much less wear and tear on you.
- When my baby is a year old breast milk has no more benefit. FALSE
Just so you know where we stand, on this planet the average age to wean is four years old. Karen Cadwell, Ph.D., R.N., I.B.C.L.C., stated, “Breastfeeding continues to be of nutritional, immunological, and psychological significance well into the second year and beyond.” Breast milk is always very nutritious and being with Mom, skin to skin, is emotionally healthy. Some babies wean themselves at nine months old, others at a year and a half and many kids wean themselves at age three or six. Canadian doctors ask mothers to nurse for at least three years.
- If I breastfeed I will have to stay home, I can’t go anywhere. FALSE
The DVD “Nursing Mothers Welcome” has almost 100 examples of many women, happily going about their day, breastfeeding all over town. In all these images not a breast is visible. It is actually easier to travel, run errands, and visit friends when artificial breast milk and bottles do not have to be packed and carried.
To find additional information on breastfeeding see Resources…