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Do you know what is the major reason for mothers unable to breastfeed or quit breastfeeding early? It is because the mother was not prepared with plenty of breastfeeding-related info.
And then, the situation becomes even worse when a lot of close family and friends trying to give suggestions on what to do. Yet, they are conflicting each other. Which one to trust and which one to ignore, arrrrggh….. And the button gets pushed. I quit!
Do you know that some of the most common suggestions related to breastfeeding are merely myths. Yes, they are not facts, or let’s just say, it’s just an old saying without solid evidence. And these myths can lead you to traps that may disrupt your breastfeeding. You didn’t want that to happen, right?
So now, let’s arm your self with the true knowledge. Learn these top 10 breastfeeding myths and the facts. So the the next time you hear that very same advise, you know what to answer.
This post is part of BREASTFEEDING 101 series. Feel free to check other articles in this series:
- 5 Common Breastfeeding Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Milk Supply
- 5 Tips To Prepare for Breastfeeding
- 12 Actionable Tips for Preparing Breastfeeding During Pregnancy
- Should I Attend A Breastfeeding Class Before Birth? Is It Worth It?
- 10 Breastfeeding Myths and Facts That You Should Know
- How Do I Know If My Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk
- Weighted Feeding for Breastfed Babies | What It Is And How It Can Help You
- 10 Tips To Breastfeed in A Baby Carrier
- Best Baby Carrier for Breastfeeding
- Top 5 Breastfeeding Books for New Moms
- Postpartum Depression and Breastfeeding | Use These 7 Practical Tips
Myth #1: Baby nurses all the time means he does not get enough milk
The only accurate way to measure whether a baby gets enough milk is by monitoring his diaper output and weight gain (click here to read more details). If your baby nurses all the time and he has poor diaper output, that means he’s not getting enough milk. But if he has normal diaper output, then it is entirely normal and you should not worry about it.
There is a couple of reasons why your baby does this:
- Cluster feeding. A lot of babies like to do cluster feeding, where he would nurse almost non-stop for 2 to 3 hours. This is usually occurs in the evening, and it is a baby’s way to tank up on more milk so that he could sleep longer at night.
- Growth spurt period. This is a period whereby babies undergo rapid growth and suddenly appears to be hungry all the times and flock to your breast forever. Typically it occurs on certain time points, such as day 7, day 21, 3 months old, and 6 months old. And it can last for a few days up to one week. It is a mechanism to let your breast know that now the baby needs more milk. At the end of the growth spurt, your milk supply has adjusted to your baby’s higher demand and your baby will go back to his normal feeding behavior.
- Breast storage. Different mothers have different milk storage capacity. And NO, it is not dependent of breast size, learn more about it here. If you have small milk storage, then you have less milk that can be stored in your breast.
Let’s have some example. Imagine, there are two moms: mom A and mom B. Mom A has a milk storage of 100 ml while mom B has storage of 300 ml. Assume they have babies with the same milk demand, 300 ml per 3 hour feeding.
Mom B can easily get away by nursing every 3 hours, because her breast can store up to 300 ml milk.
What about mom A?
Imagine, if we force mom A to nurse only every 3 hours. By the time her breast already produced 100 ml of milk, her breast stops the milk production because no more storage available. By the time 3 hour passes, she can only have 100 ml on her breast. But if she allows baby feeds more frequently, say 100 ml every hour, then her breast is trained to produce milk faster, and mom A can still meet the babies demand.
Myth #2: The amount of pumped milk shows how much milk you produced in your breast
Not true. Only babies can remove milk from breast most efficiently. Therefore to increase milk production, the most suggested method is to latch baby more frequently.
In fact, it is very common that the amount of pumped milk is only half or even third of amount of milk that baby gets with direct nursing. Read more details here.
Myths #3: Mother should space the feeding because breast need time to make milk
Not true. In fact, breast is producing milk all the time, depending on the stimulation that breast receives. If the breast is empty while the baby wants to nurse, breast will take it as an indicator to produce more milk and increase milk production. Remember the rule:
If a mom would wait until her breast feels full to nurse her baby, the breast may take it as a signal that less milk is needed and hence slow down its milk production, leading to less milk produced.
Myth #4: It is normal that breastfeeding hurts / breastfeeding should not hurt at all
It is normal in the early days to feel tenderness in nipple, but the pain feeling should subside as mother and baby master the nursing together.
If the pain feeling prolonged, typically it is due to poor latch. It is better for mom to see a lactation consultant to get her latching position evaluated.
When breastfeeding still hurts even though the latching position is correct (deep latch where baby not only takes nipple in, but also bigger part of the areola), then the baby should be assessed for possibility of tongue tie or other anatomical variation of your baby.
Do approach a lactation consultant and pediatrician to get suggestion and right treatment.
Myth #5: Never wake up a sleeping baby for breastfeeding
We believe on nursing baby based on baby’s cue. But in the early days, it is important to nurse baby at least 8 times every day and not letting the baby to skip feeding longer than 3 hours (except for night when baby may have a longer stretch of sleep). This is important so that the breast is getting regular stimulation to produce milk that baby needs.
It is also critical to know that some babies may be sleepy than other due to their medical condition (e.g. jaundice), and it is even more important to wake up this sleepy baby to nurse. They need enough fluid intake to flush bilirubin out of their body and if they’re allowed to sleep, they will sleep a lot despite their hunger.
Myth #6: Mother with small breast does not have enough milk for baby
Incorrect. The amount of milk produced by mother does not depend on breast size. Rather, it depends on the number of milk-making cells in the breast. Click here to read more details.
Myth #7: Baby should nurse from both side of breast for each feeding session
Not true. It is more important for a baby to finish one breast first so that he gets both foremilk (the more watery part which serves as thirst quencher) and hindmilk (the more fatty part). After he’s done with one breast, if he’s still hungry, then it is time to offer the other side.
But, if baby refuses to take the other side of breast, that is fine, too, and you can offer it the next feeding.
Switching breast too quickly (just for the sake that baby needs to nurse from both breasts) may lead to baby taking not enough hindmilk and slow weight gain.
Myth #8: If your breast feel soft and you got nothing when you squeeze your breast, there’s no more milk left in your breast
Totally wrong. As discussed in this post, to get the milk out of breast, we need to have let down stimulation. No matter how much milk you have inside your breast, if you don’t experience let down, milk won’t spray out of breast, and instead only comes out as drips (if any).
Additionally, soft breast is a good sign that your breast is emptied regularly, leading to faster milk production. But it does not mean there’s no milk left in the breast. In fact, your breast continuously produces milk based on demand it receives. Try to stimulate let-down and you’ll get more milk coming.
Myth #9: Breastfed baby needs to be given water occasionally
Not true. Exclusively breastfed baby does not need water, because 88% of breast milk is water and your baby will not be thirsty as long as he is allowed to nurse as needed. Click here for more guidelines on offering water to baby. Click here for more guidelines on offering water to baby.
Myth #10: Do not let baby uses breast as pacifier
First, some babies do need to be at breast not only for milk, but for seeking comfort. This is especially true for small babies, she trusts her mother a lot for providing him comfort. Seriously, what’s wrong with this? A baby trusts her mother for comfort, and the mother is responding to her cue.
But the more serious thing is, when this saying comes in the early days of breastfeeding, when baby is just a few days old.
Frequent nursing is often regarded as pacifying with breast.
But the truth is, as I said earlier, baby is telling mother’s breast to make more milk, adjusting to his gradual increase of milk demand.
And ultimately, mother does not make enough milk (due to baby is not given frequent time to be at breast), and baby will not gain weight. Click here to read more details.
- If you like scientific-based evidence for each myth, head down to LLLI website, whereby Lisa Marasco explains each of myth in details with supporting scientific studies.
- And even more myths explained by Dr Jack Newman (total, there 54 myths, wow..!)
Have you been hearing one of these myths from your relatives or friends? Which one do you hear most frequently? Or do you have personal experience being told of these myths? Share with me in the comments!
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