Breastfeeding Myths – Busted!

It’s World’s Breastfeeding Week from 1st to 7th August 2015. Over the years, more mums are embracing breastfeeding as part of raising kids. While we understand the many benefits that come with breastfeeding, there are also myths surrounding this topic.

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Let’s explore the most common myths and facts about breastfeeding:

Myth 1: New mums don’t make enough milk
Indeed true that mums don’t produce fluid milk for three to five days after their babies come, but they do make a thick, concentrated liquid called colostrum. And that’s all a newborn needs for the first few days, taking not more than two teaspoons at a time.

Myth 2: Breastfeeding is easy and comes naturally
Breastfeeding is not always easy, especially for first-time mums. As much as it’s a natural act for mammals, it also requires lots of trials and errors as well as tuning into mothering instincts. In a 2013 survey published in Pediatrics, 92% of new mums had at least one concern on their third day of breastfeeding—such as the baby not latching properly, low milk supply, or breast pain. Mums facing difficulties with nursing after being discharged from the hospital should know where to turn for advice; some hospitals offer outpatient consultations. There are also online breastfeeding support groups and forums. Look for certified lactation consultants around your area.

Myth 3: Breastfeeding hurts
Many mums expect breastfeeding to be painful. It’s a fact that new mum’s nipples may feel sensitive and tender for the first few weeks. For new mums, they may feel a tingling sensation especially during let-down. However, if breastfeeding is painful, chances are baby’s latch or tongue-tie may be the issue.

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Myth 4: If baby feeds frequently, that means he’s not getting enough
As breastmilk is easy to digest, baby generally gets hungy more easily and quickly compared to being formula-fed. It’s common for breastfed baby to ask for a feed every two to three hours.

Myth 5: Nursing mums should space their feedings so that their breasts will have time to refill 
Breastfeeding is a lot about supply and demand. A lactating mum’s body is always making milk. The emptier the breast, the faster the body makes milk to replace it; the fuller the breast, the more production of milk slows down. If a mother consistently waits until her breasts “fill up” before she nurses, her body may get the message that it is making too much and may reduce total production.

Myth 6: Formula-fed babies sleep better
Formula-fed babies tend to sleep longer as formula milk isn’t digested as quickly and remains in baby’s system longer – in turn begins to ferment, making poo smell more. Breastfed babies eventually catch up on sleeping longer at four weeks old and will soon be sleeping the same amount of time as bottle-fed babies. Your baby will sleep through the night when she is developmentally ready to.

Myth 7: You can only eat bland food while breastfeeding
By the time the foods you eat have been digested and used to make breastmilk, the potentially upsetting properties have been broken down and shouldn’t affect your baby at all. Hence, it’s unlikely the cabbage or broccoli you eat will make your baby gassy. There’s no need to change your diet at all; many nursing mums swear by the wait-and-see approach. If your baby seems fussy two to 12 hours after you eat certain foods, eliminate it from your diet for a while and try again.

Myth 8: It makes your breasts sag
Many women tend to think that breastfeeding will change the appearance of their breasts. However, according to studies, it’s the number of pregnancies a woman has—not whether she breastfeeds—that causes the breasts to sag overtime. And that happens with or without implants. In fact, breastfeeding actually helps to protect your breasts by reducing the risks of breast cancer later in life.

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Myth 9: Breastfeeding prevents you from getting pregnant
Experts believe that he hormones involved in breastfeeding prevent ovulation and is 98% effective, like other forms of birth control. However, you will need additional contraception once your menstrual cycle returns as you can still get pregnant even if you’re breastfeeding after that.

Myth 10: Breastfeeding beyond one year makes weaning highly challenging
Babies are individuals, and some just want to nurse longer than others. Some kids give it up on their own at about 12 months old, while others are content to nurse well past their second birthday. You may want to consider weaning only when you and your baby are both ready for it.

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