Ask any mom and she will have something to say about breastfeeding! More often than not, those who have had the opportunity to nurse their child(ren) will tell you how nothing compares to it. You might hear about the bond, about the sweetest stories, but also about how exhausting, frustrating, and sometimes how painful it has been.
As a mom myself, to a 24 months old toddler whom I still partially nurse, I can tell you that I would never think I would carry on for so long when he was born. Breastfeeding has been almost magical at times, but oh my… at the beginning? I would have given up very quickly if I didn’t come across Isabel Bano, Doctor in Nursing, Midwife, and IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). So to the future moms who are some questions about breastfeeding, here are 10 common misconceptions you might want to read about!
Breastfeeding is not an easy task in and of itself, but it comes with a whole slew of concerns, many of which are myths. Below are 10 common misconceptions concerning breastfeeding. Let us clarify…
1. If you’ve had alcohol, you must pump and dump the milk.
Rather than throw away your precious milk, time your glass of wine or beer carefully. After you’ve had a drink, it will leave your milk at the same rate that it leaves your bloodstream. To make sure that your milk is alcohol-free, wait at least two and a half hours before breastfeeding again. Consider pumping milk ahead of time in case your baby becomes hungry while the alcohol is still in your system.
2. It’s normal to feel pain when you breastfeed your baby.
Sore nipples are the most common breastfeeding complaint of new mothers in the early postpartum period. Although mild discomfort is common, PAIN that continues or becomes severe, IS NOT NORMAL, and should be assessed. Sore nipples are a sign that something is not working properly. Mothers with sore nipples need quick solutions because when mothers are in pain, oxytocin does not release well. This can keep the milk from flowing, and mothers may believe they are running out of milk. A common concern and the reason most cited for stopping breastfeeding. In most cases, mothers can avoid sore nipples by correcting the latch. A bad latch can be the reason for a poor baby’s weight gain, sore or cracked nipples, breast engorgement, plugged milk ducts, or breast infection.
3. Breastfeeding will cause the breasts to sag.
Droopy breasts are a result of pregnancy, not breastfeeding. During pregnancy hormonal changes cause the ligaments underneath them to loosen and stretch. As you gain weight and your breasts become larger and heavier, they may begin to sag.
4. Certain foods you eat can give your breastfed baby gas.
Breast milk receives nutrients from the bloodstream, which means that you (not your baby) digest fiber and carbs that may cause gas. So, unless you have a family history of food allergies, go ahead and enjoy any kind of food you like.
5. Moms who breastfeed are not allowed to take medication.
Around 85% of medicines have a compatible alternative with breastfeeding. If you are not sure about which medicines are compatible with breastfeeding, please check this website: www.e-lactancia.org
6. You need to prepare your breast/nipple during your pregnancy.
During pregnancy your breast naturally changes and gets ready for breastfeeding. Around 16 weeks’ pregnancy your breast starts to produce colostrum (the first creamy and yellowish milk which provides the baby’s first immunisation in life). Any type of nipple (inverted, flat, large or small) is perfectly designed to feed your baby.
7. You can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding.
If you are having sex, you CAN get pregnant, regardless of whether you’re breastfeeding. However, you’re less likely to conceive if you are within the first six months of breastfeeding, your period has not returned, and your baby is nursing every two to three hours, even at night.
8. You shouldn’t breastfeed when you are sick.
Continuing to breastfeed while you have a cold or the flu actually helps protect your baby from illness. The germ-fighting antibodies that your body is busy making are transferred to your baby every time she nurses. As a result, she probably won’t get sick at all, or if she does, it will be a milder version of whatever is ailing you.
9. You have to wait until your breast is full to have more milk for your baby.
Once your breast milk has come in, your breasts start to make milk through a process of ‘supply and demand’. Each time milk is removed, either by your baby feeding or by expressing, your breasts make more. By feeling your breast getting full regularly, you can reduce your milk supply; your body isn’t getting the message to produce more breast milk, because none is being removed. The way your baby nurses also affects your supply. The more frequently and effectively she breastfeeds, the more milk you’ll make.
10. If you don’t breastfeed, you are a bad mom.
Although breastfeeding provides significant health benefits for your baby and you, deciding not to breastfeed, or being unable to breastfeed for whatever reason, doesn’t make you an unfit mother. Breastfeed as long as you want, and make your own decisions. NOBODY LOVES YOUR BABY MORE THAN YOU DO. Whatever decision you take, will be the right one!
Advice given by Isabel Bano
Doctor in Nursing, Midwife, and IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant)
Isabel has more than 15 years of international experience in programs targeting a mother’s health and newborn care. With extensive experience in hospitals and clinical settings in Spain, Portugal, Belgium, UK, and Singapore. Read more here.