The myths surrounding breastfeeding are endless
Jungle juice, milk supply issues and a baby that will never sleep through the night…
Thanks to the Internet, and well-meaning (but mostly misinformed) advice-givers, the myths surrounding breastfeeding are endless…
…and, enough to dishearten any new mom.
Let’s set the record straight on some common breastfeeding myths:
1. Breastfeeding is easy
Yes, breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
It’s especially difficult when you haven’t slept in days, or when your baby goes through a growth spurt and demands to cluster feed non-stop for hours on end.
Think sore nipples, milk supply worries and a screaming baby that refuses to latch…
Breastfeeding is not easy, but it does eventually get easier, if that makes sense.
2. ‘You’re not allowed to eat that when you’re breastfeeding’
Onions, green peppers, broccoli, tomatoes…
The list goes on when it comes to foods that you ‘can’t’ eat when you’re breastfeeding.
While it’s true that some moms may need to alter their diet a bit in order to accommodate gassy babies with sensitivities, there’s usually no need to cut certain foods completely from your diet.
Like most things in life, moderation is key, and a healthy diet filled with all the good stuff – like vegetables, fruits, whole grain and legumes, and some animal protein – is good for you and your baby!
3. You can’t fall pregnant while you are breastfeeding
Er, yes you can.
While breastfeeding exclusively can suppress ovulation, it’s not a reliable way to prevent pregnancy. Planned Parenthood estimates that “1 in 100 women who practice continuous breastfeeding will get pregnant, and 2 in 100 will if they don’t always practice it correctly”.
Yes, ‘nipple confusion’ is a thing, but that doesn’t mean that your baby can never drink from a bottle or suck on a dummy
4. Jungle what?
Jungle juice: A ‘magic’ concoction (think fruit juice, re-hydrating solution and some or other elixir) floating around on the Internet that promises to boost your milk supply.
At first you might be forgiven for thinking that chugging litres of this will in fact boost your supply. But, it won’t.
Often compared to ‘sugar in a cup’, all this concoction will boost is your waistline – and not in a good way.
Natural (and easier) ways to boost your milk supply include following a healthy diet, drinking enough water and encouraging baby to feed on demand.
5. You can’t breastfeed in public
While breastfeeding in public is becoming more accepted, it still seems to attract a lot more attention (sometimes negative) than bottle-feeding.
As a breastfeeding mom myself, I have often felt the need to ‘hide’ when breastfeeding my son (whether in a public bathroom – yuck! Or the back seat of my stuffy car). I have also had many experiences that have left me fumbling, flustered and vowing never to leave the house again. Or at least until my breasts became my own again.
But, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from nursing my son, it’s to hang up any hang-ups I have about breastfeeding in public. There’s nothing shameful or wrong with feeding your baby – and if a bottle-fed baby can drink in public, why shouldn’t a breastfed baby be given the same rights?
It’s not always easy, and there will almost always be the judgemental stare or accidental nip slip (oops!), but my advice for new moms is to dress the part, throw in a few practice rounds, flash a smile, and do what’s best for your baby!
6. Your breastfed baby can NEVER have a bottle…
…or a dummy!
Yes, ‘nipple confusion’ is a thing, but that doesn’t mean that your baby can never drink from a bottle or suck on a dummy.
Many moms introduce bottles and rely on dummies to make life easier – and most breastfeeding experts agree that this is fine, as long as it’s done after six weeks!
While it’s true that some moms may need to alter their diet a bit in order to accommodate gassy babies with sensitivities, there’s usually no need to cut certain foods completely from your diet
7. How much milk you pump, is how much milk you make
Any mom who has ever pumped will tell you that how much milk you pump is not a true indication of how much milk you actually make.
Hungry babies are far more efficient at triggering a ‘let-down’ and extracting milk from your breasts, than a mechanical device that needs to be plugged in and switched on.
At the end of the day, pumping (like breastfeeding) is a skill that requires practice and patience (a lot of it!).
8. “I don’t have enough milk”…
…is one of the main reasons that moms throw in the towel before they have reached their breastfeeding goal.
While it’s hard to measure what you can’t see (and pumping is not a true indication of how much milk you make), there are ways that you can tell whether or not your baby is getting enough milk.
Chat to your pediatrician, baby-wellness nurse or lactation consultant about how to gage whether or not your baby is getting enough milk, but the general rule of thumb is that if your baby is content, gaining sufficient weight and producing enough wet and poopy nappies throughout the day – then you can rest assured that you are probably making enough milk!
9. Your baby will never sleep through the night
Now, at two-and-a-half, my breastfed baby still does not sleep through the night. So technically, I can’t debunk this myth.
But, I do know that every baby is different and that sleeping through the night has more to do with developmental milestones, and less to do with whether or not you breastfeed your baby.