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Common Breastfeeding Myths

Woman breastfeeding her newborn baby

10 Breastfeeding Myths + Why They're False

Like most parenting, breastfeeding is no exception when it comes to opinions and myths from the masses. We here at Wumblekin want to share what we have learned both through experience and education to disprove these myths and support you in your journey to feed your little one.

Myth #1 | Breast Size Matters

Why this is FALSE: Small breasts or large breasts have nothing to do with your ability to make milk. Typically, larger breasts have more fatty tissue and fatty tissue does not make milk. In most cases milk supply is all about supply and demand; the more your baby feeds, the more milk you’ll produce.

Myth #2 | Breastfeeding is Easy/Natural/Possible for All Moms

Why this is FALSE: For a variety of reasons some women/babies struggle to breastfeed. These issues range from inverted nipples, tongue-ties and tight jaws, to low supply, traumatic births, or medical conditions that prevent breastfeeding. Therefore, we recommend taking breastfeeding classes and utilizing hospital and community-based support such as Lactation Consultants and new parent meetings with a focus on breastfeeding (La Leche League is one example).

While we stated above that supply and demand is what builds supply, there are some people (less than 5%) that simply cannot make enough milk to exclusively breastfeed their babies. We think it's important to share this data because when a parent has their heart set on breastfeeding, and then they struggle to make enough milk, it can feel quite devastating. And if you're reading this because this hits home for you, then big hugs from me to you, Mama!

Myth #3 | Breastfeeding is Painful (Especially Once Baby Gets Teeth)

Why this is FALSE: When a baby has a good latch, breastfeeding should not be painful. Sure, just like when you put on a pair of flip flops for the first time in 9 months you might feel slight discomfort, you may also need a little time to adjust to your baby feeding. The key here is that this adjustment should not cause sharp pain and it should not last long. We do recommend using lanolin or natural ingredients like shea butter (found in our Mother Loving Potions Boobie Butter!) to help prevent dry cracked nipples. If breastfeeding is painful for the entire feed and/or your nipples are cracked or bleeding, you should seek support of a lactation consultant to work on your baby's latch.

There can be other pains related to breastfeeding, too. In the first two weeks postpartum you may experience cramping of the uterus that is similar to period cramps. Believe it or not, this is actually a good thing as it means your body is naturally working to shrink your uterus down to its pre-pregnancy size. The amount of pain can correlate with the number of babies you’ve had – getting a little more painful after each baby. Most moms find that ibuprofen is enough to manage this type of pain. Next, there is let-down (the tingly feeling right before your milk begins to flow). Some women don’t feel let-down at all. If your let-down is extremely painful that may be a sign of a breast infection and you should consult a medical professional.

Finally, teeth! Yes, some babes will test out biting (ouch!) but typically if they are removed from the breast immediately and told that it hurt or if mom yelps in a way that startles them, this will not become a repeat behavior. The number one advice here is the same for any other “naughty” behavior... DO NOT LAUGH or your little one might think it is a game. After the first few bites most babies nurse without harm well into toddlerhood.

Myth #4 | You Should Not Breastfeed When You are Sick

Why this is FALSE: This is a hot topic, especially right now. Not only is it safe, but breastfeeding while sick is an important choice to make. If you have the flu, a stomach bug or other respiratory illness, you should keep on breastfeeding! Your little one cannot get sick from your breast milk. Even better, your breastmilk contains antibodies specific to what is currently ailing you and should help reduce your baby's risk of getting sick themself. The current recommendation for breastfeeding is to practice good hand-washing and to wear a mask (if you are concerned about respiratory illness) but to continue breastfeeding.

Myth #5 | The Ounces You Pump are the Same as the Ounces Your Baby Can Get in One Feeding

Why this is mostly False: Everyone’s body is different. Some babies nurse easily and get out more than the pump, while others are less effective nursers and the pump can pull more than they can. On the flipside, some people respond well to the pump while others do not. If you are struggling with supply while pumping, we recommend looking at the settings of your particular pump. This is another area where a lactation consultant can help. Look at the settings and consider different methods such as hand pumping or hand expression if the mechanical pump is not working for you.

Myth #6 | You Can’t Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding

Why this is FALSE: This may be true for SOME people but overall, this is false. In fact, it is possible to get pregnant before your first postpartum period. We have seen enough shocked parents to know this is valuable information for us to share with you!

Myth #7 | You Should Only Breastfeed Until Your Baby is One Year Old

Why this is FALSE: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of your baby’s life. After 6 months, breastfeeding plus solid foods are recommended until 12 months. After baby’s first birthday, breastfeeding is recommended as long as you and your child are comfortable with it. Breastfeeding after one year continues to provide a good source of nutrition and disease protection.

Myth #8 | You Can’t Take Medications When Breastfeeding

Why this is FALSE (please read carefully): Most drugs that you take will be present in your milk in some extent and most drugs are safe for breastfeeding. BUT there are exceptions, and these drugs can become concentrated in breast milk making them dangerous to babies, so the answer is to always verify. We wish we could tell you that every pharmacist, doctor, and nurse was well-versed on what medications are safe for breastfeeding, but the truth is we are not and if pressed on the issue most people will give you the most conservative answer. Thankfully, there is an amazing resource for this. Thomas Hale and the Texas Tech University InfantRisk Center has an app (Mommymed), website and a 800-number to call. They rank the safety of medications on a scale and weigh the pros and cons of taking them.

Because it is a frequently asked question, we wanted to note there are antidepressants that are considered safe for breastfeeding; please do not delay treatment if you need it!

Myth #9 | You Have to Cover Yourself When Breastfeeding in Public

Why this is FALSE: Breastfeeding in public without a cover is legal and protected by federal and state law in all 50 states. Legally, you may not be asked to cover or remove yourself from any establishment. That said, you have to do what is right for you; with my first I had some trouble breastfeeding in the early weeks and when my daughter popped off my breast it would spray milk like a sprinkler all over the place. For that reason, I chose to cover until I had everything situated in a way that felt comfortable to me. Basically, the key here is that you should do what you’re comfortable with and not worry about anyone else!

Myth #10 | Breastfeeding Causes Weight Loss

Why this is mostly FALSE: Yes, some women do lose weight while breastfeeding. Especially those who only eat 300-500 calories per day in addition to their pre-pregnancy diet. But this is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s true your body helps burn some of the pregnancy fat stores gained while pregnant but typically it also holds onto some as a protective measure while you are breastfeeding. Another thing to note is that breastfeeding hunger is real – some women report feeling hungrier when breastfeeding than they ever did while pregnant. The moral of the story is that this isn’t your moment to pull out those skinny jeans you have been hanging onto “just in case.” Your body shape changes with pregnancy. It has done a miraculous thing of both growing and now feeding a new life. Focus on nourishing you, so you can nourish your new baby while trying not to be tempted by the scale.

Have questions about breastfeeding? Head over to our Instagram and “#AskANurse” to get answers!

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