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The Top 10 Myths About Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a special bonding moment that you will get to share with your newborn baby. Before you start breastfeeding, here are the top 10 myths debunked about breastfeeding you should keep in mind.

As an expecting mother, you are likely doing all the research you can to learn everything you need to know before the arrival of your little one. Along the way, we are sure you have heard dozens of opposing thoughts and beliefs about breastfeeding. Everyone from your family, friends, and other new parents will have their own beliefs and opinions on what are the “right” and “wrong” things to do while breastfeeding. Chances are, a lot of what you are hearing is not correct so we are here to set the record straight and debunk some of the most popular myths about breastfeeding.

MYTH #1: Breastfeeding is the Better Option for Your Baby’s Health 

One of the most popular myths about breastfeeding is that this is a better, healthier option for your baby, versus formula feeding. There is no scientific research or evidence to prove whether or not breastfeeding is significantly a better or healthier option for your baby. In fact, formula provides the same amount of nutrition to help with your baby’s growth and development. The only benefit that breastfeeding has over formula feeding is that breastfed babies are less likely to develop infections. This is because of the antibodies that are passed from the mother to baby with breastfeeding. Ultimately, both breastfeeding and formula feeding your baby are great options. 

MYTH #2: Breastfeeding Can Be Easy

After a baby is born, it is actually their natural instinct to search for the breast as a source of food. However, just because their natural instinct guides them to you as a source of survival, does not mean breastfeeding will come naturally. It is very normal to experience a learning curve when it comes to breastfeeding – for both you and your baby. Remember to be patient with yourself because you will eventually get the hang of it. Try sitting in different positions or using different tools, such as a nursing pillow, to figure out what works best for you and your baby. Soon enough, you’ll be a pro. Keep in mind that breastfeeding is time intensive so make sure that you are getting enough rest in between feeding sessions with your newborn.

MYTH #3: Being Sore or Uncomfortable is Normal

When you first start out breastfeeding, experiencing a little bit of discomfort is totally normal. However, if you are positioning the nipple correctly during breastfeeding, you should not be experiencing continued discomfort or soreness on your nipple. If breastfeeding becomes painful, you should consult with your doctor to make sure everything is okay. Experiencing discomfort or pain is likely a sign that your baby is latching onto the breast incorrectly or you could be suffering from an infection. To be cautious, you should talk with your doctor to figure out what might be causing the pain. Not sure if your baby is latching correctly? Here’s what to look for. Instead of only focusing on the nipple, your baby should be opening wide and pulling at both the nipple and breast, using their jaw and mouth to massage milk out of your breast. 

MYTH #4: You Should Only Eat Plain Foods while Breastfeeding

A breastfeeding mom should focus on making sure she is eating a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet of healthy foods. However, unlike with your pregnancy diet, there is no need for you to continue avoiding specific foods. After nine months of following a strict diet, you deserve to enjoy your favorite foods again! By the time the foods you eat have been digested and used to make your breast milk, the potentially upsetting elements of the food will have broken down enough to not have an effect on your milk. So if you choose to snack on some chips and salsa, you should not expect your baby to refuse to nurse because of the spice. There are a few foods that might cause a bit of upset to your baby, such as dairy or peanuts. What is the best way to test this? Eat whatever food you want as you normally would and monitor how your baby reacts shortly after breastfeeding. If you notice that after eating a specific food, your baby is uncomfortable or refuses to feed, you might want to consider cutting that food out of your diet for a short period of time. You can try to reintroduce it back into your diet a few weeks later and monitor how your little one reacts again.

Get answers to common breastfeeding questions from Dr. Latanya Benjamin:

MYTH #5: You Won’t Be Able to Breastfeed Unless You Start Immediately 

It will be easier to begin breastfeeding your baby right after they are born because your baby’s reflexes are very strong at this point. They are ready and eager to begin learning how to breastfeed. However, if you cannot get your baby to properly latch right away, there is no need to stress. You will still be able to breastfeed your baby, it might just take some more time to get your baby to latch for the first time. If you are looking for additional guidance and support, ask to speak to a lactation consultant. The consultant will be able to provide advice on how to get your baby to properly latch. In addition to the extra support, frequent skin-to-skin contact and keeping your baby near your breast will help get breastfeeding started.

MYTH #6: You Can’t Use Formula If You Are Also Breastfeeding

Another common myth about breastfeeding is that you will not be able to feed your baby formula. Most babies are completely fine with switching from breastfeeding to formula feeding.  If you are considering feeding with both breastmilk and formula, here are two things to keep in mind. First, you should wait until your baby has learned how to breastfeed until you start to introduce bottle feeding. This will typically be around when your baby is 6 weeks old. At this point, your baby should be comfortable enough breastfeeding to then also learn how to use a bottle and will be able to switch back-and-forth with no problems. Second, remember that it is important to still frequently breastfeed to make sure your body continues to produce milk. Continue to offer breastfeeding as frequently as possible. If you are looking to feed with both breastfeeding and bottle feeding, it might be helpful to consider working with a lactation consultant.

MYTH #7: You Can’t Take Medication While Breastfeeding

If you will be taking any medication while breastfeeding, you should tell your doctor about which medication you take to get their expert opinion and advice. However, it is typically safe for mothers to take medication while breastfeeding their baby. Depending on the medication, you may need to take it at a specific time or at a specific dosage, or your doctor may look into an alternative formulation for the time you are breastfeeding. For non-prescription medication, double-check with your doctor about specific brands to take or exact dosage amounts, just as another precaution. 

MYTH #8: You Should Not Breastfeed If You Are Sick

Although we understand that you might be worried that breastfeeding while you are sick could be bad for your baby’s health, it is the exact opposite!  Most doctors would recommend continuing to breastfeed while you have a cold or the flu because it can help build your baby’s immune system. The germ-fighting antibodies that are working throughout your body will be able to transfer over into your baby’s immune system and help to strengthen their own body’s defense. As a result, you should not expect your baby to get sick at all from your own sickness. If they do, it will likely be a much milder case of sickness. Make sure you are giving your body the proper rest and care it needs to both continue breastfeeding and fight off the infection.

MYTH #9: You Must Nurse Every Two Hours to Make Sure They Are Getting Enough Food

Every baby has their own individual level of hunger and needs for food. Naturally, babies do typically fall into an every-two-hours feeding schedule, however, this is not a necessary schedule to follow in order to make sure your baby is getting enough food. If you are worried that your baby might not be getting enough to eat, but unsure of how to tell, look at their diapers. The average baby should have about six “wet diapers” plus two or three “steady diapers” per day. If you are still concerned, you can schedule a weight check with your pediatrician who can provide further insight on if your baby is getting enough food throughout the day. 

MYTH #10: You Cannot Exercise While Breastfeeding Or Your Milk Turns Sour

Not until recently did people believe that exercising while breastfeeding will produce high levels of lactic acid in your breast milk that will give it an unappetizing taste. However, recent studies show that babies actually can’t tell the difference in the taste at all! In fact, exercising while breastfeeding is a great way to boost your endorphins and your busy, new mom schedule. What might be causing your baby to refuse to nurse shortly after your exercise is actually just the saltiness left behind on your skin from sweat. Before nursing your baby, just hop into the shower to rinse off and you should not run into any problems. 

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All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

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