SALT LAKE CITY — Are you a new or expecting mother hesitant to breastfeed because of some of the things you’ve heard about it? Do you ever wonder what the facts are about breastfeeding, nutrition and milk supply?
There are so many old wives’ tales about breastfeeding, it can be hard to decipher fact from fiction. It’s important to find out what’s real and what’s not rooted in truth because the benefits of breastfeeding are staggering. You don’t want a myth to keep you from giving your baby what medical experts say is the best possible start in life.
Let’s deconstruct some common breastfeeding myths so you can make an informed decision about whether it’s right for you.
Myth No. 1: You’re not producing enough if your baby feeds frequently
This one is said to breastfeeding moms everywhere, especially by moms who have formula-fed their babies. They’re not trying to promote breastfeeding myths; they’re just comparing apples to oranges. They’re judging your baby by what theirs did, but formula is entirely different than breast milk.
Breast milk is digested faster than formula is, so your baby will be hungrier more often than they would be if they received formula. It’s perfectly normal for a breastfed baby to space out their feedings only two or three hours apart. It doesn’t mean they aren’t getting enough milk while they’re at your breast.
Myth No. 2: Take a break to boost milk production
Some people mistakenly think if you skip a feeding or take a day off from breastfeeding, you’ll increase your breast milk supply. That couldn’t be further from the truth. If you start taking breaks, your milk production will decrease.
The best thing you can do to ensure a good supply of milk is to breastfeed or pump regularly, every three hours or so.
Myth No. 3: It’s natural, so it’s easy to do
Yes, breastfeeding is a natural act between mother and child — but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. A lot of women have difficulties with breastfeeding.
Those difficulties can usually be overcome with practice and by seeking advice from lactation consultants, or even other moms. So don’t be discouraged if you have trouble breastfeeding; many women do. You might struggle with low supply, pain, or an improper latch. But if you stay on the course with lactation support and a lactation supportive diet, you’ll work it out.
Myth No. 4: Breastfeeding is a foolproof birth control method
For the first six months after pregnancy, breastfeeding can reduce the chances of you getting pregnant even if you don’t use any contraceptives. While it can provide some protection, it isn’t foolproof — it’s 98 percent effective. But that’s only if you meet certain conditions when you are frequently breastfeeding.
So, if you’re dead set against having another child so soon after the one you’ve just had, make sure you use a contraceptive too.
Myth No. 5: Breastfeeding will cause saggy breasts
If we're honest, we all wish our perky breasts from our 20s would last forever! But breastfeeding takes a bad rap for causing additional or premature sagginess when it doesn’t cause the issue at all.
Many things can cause saggy breasts that have nothing to do with breastfeeding. Pregnancy is a big culprit, as is rapid weight gain or loss, and our old foe: aging. The best thing you can do to prevent drooping is to support them with a comfortable and well-fitting bra during pregnancy.
Myth No. 6: Small breasts don’t make as much milk
The size of your breasts does not influence how much milk they produce — this is just another one of those myths about lactation. So, if you’re an A cup and you’re stressing that your baby will go hungry because you weren’t blessed with C or D cups, don’t worry.
Myth No. 7: Breastfeeding is all or nothing
If you’re going back to work in a month or two after you have your baby and you feel there’s no way you’ll continue breastfeeding past that, it doesn’t mean you should skip it altogether.
Even if you only breastfeed for a month or two, it’s worth it. In the first few days of your baby’s life, they’ll get benefits from breastfeeding — even if you stop after the first week. The first milk you produce is called colostrum, and it’s loaded with antibodies and immunoglobulin that help your baby and protect its health.
Even from weeks four to six, if you’re still breastfeeding, you’re passing on antibodies that beef up your child’s immune system, making them less likely to get respiratory infections and other conditions like bronchitis and pneumonia. Plus, you’ll get all that great bonding time too!
So, even if you think you’ll only breastfeed for a few weeks, you should still give it a whirl.
What to know about breastfeeding
If you’re a new mom and you’re still nervous about breastfeeding, welcome to the club. We were all in your shoes at one time. Hopefully, by busting these common breastfeeding myths we’ve set your mind at ease.
Whether you decide to breastfeed or go with formula, the fact that you care enough to spend your time reading about this issue shows you’re going to rock this whole motherhood thing.