Truths and Myths About Breastfeeding
By Nancy Held, RN, MS, IBCLC
President & Co-Founder, DayOne Baby, LLC
Have your well-meaning friends and relatives passed along some “interesting” advice to help you breastfeed? With so much information available, it can be challenging to determine what to believe. Here are the most common myths and truths to help you be successful at reaching your breastfeeding goals.
Myth: Breastfeeding is natural, so it should be intuitive.
Truth: Many women have never even seen a baby breastfeed before they give birth to their own baby. Although babies are born knowing how to suck, they too need to learn how to breastfeed. Fortunately, there is more support for breastfeeding families than ever before. You can learn about breastfeeding by attending a prenatal breastfeeding class, asking for help from lactation consultants even hours after birth, and attending local breastfeeding support groups.
Myth: Breastfeeding always hurts.
Truth: Although it is not unusual for a new mom to experience some nipple tenderness or pain in the first few days after birth, it can be minimized by learning about correct positioning, latch-on techniques, and asking for help from a lactation professional if the pain continues for more than 5-7 days. (In her article published yesterday, midwife Ellie Griffinger recommends making an appointment with a lactation consultant as early as your first day home with the baby in order to check your latch and beat pain before it starts.) If you do suffer from soreness, there are also some easy and effective treatments, including MotherLove’s Nipple Cream and Lansinoh Soothie gel pads.
Myth: No one in my family was successful breastfeeding so I probably will have problems as well.
Truth: You could be the first in your family to successfully breastfeed! If you learn the basics about milk production (milk is made on a supply-and-demand basis) and follow your baby’s cues, offering frequent feedings and lots of skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding should get off to a great start and you will be on your way to reaching your breastfeeding goals.
Myth: Breastfeeding will tie me down.
Truth: Since you always have your milk supply with you, it can be easy to bring your baby with you as you go out and about. If you are uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, try a nursing cover or scarf (we love Bebe Au Lait), or pump before you go out and offer a bottle of your milk. Pumping your milk will also allow your partner to feed your baby while you run out to the gym or have some “me” time.
Myth: I’ll be going back to work at 3-4 months so it’s not worth it to breastfeed.
Truth: Many women successfully continue to breastfeed after returning to work by pumping several times a day. But if that’s not feasible for you, remember: any amount of breastfeeding is great for you and your baby. Recent research has shown even one feeding of breastmilk a day helps your baby receive important antibodies and immune factors.
Breastmilk is remarkable, so any amount for as long as it works for you, your baby and family is fabulous.
Nancy Held, RN, MS, IBCLC is CoFounder & President of DayOne Baby. She is also the author of the postmodyrn article 10 Things to Know About the 4th Trimester. For breastfeeding, sleep, and other parenting resources, check out DayOne in the San Francisco Bay Area, or search your area for similar services.
Photos: Laura Kudritzki Photography
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