Breastfeeding Myths Busted!

Are you considering breastfeeding your baby? If so, you have made an awesome choice for yourself and your child.

I was a breastfeeding mom and my son is going to be 3 soon. Our goal was to nurse until he turned 2, but we actually were able to nurse until 27months. My husband and I did a lot of research on this topic during our pregnancy and there are lots of benefits from breastfeeding.

(A peek under my nursing cover)

We attended classes and were lucky enough to have a wonderful lactation specialist who has worked for the state for over 20 years. She really helped to dispel all of those myths that are out there for us. Her words and advice as well as those from family got me through which is why I was able to nurse for so long. I'm so thankful for that.

Basically, don't believe the hype. Anyone can breastfeed. You just have to stay committed. Statistics show that when the going gets tough or due to the belief of myths out there women typically quit. If you continue to nurse you and your baby will be rewarded handsomely for it.

Myth #1: You need to help "break in" or "toughen" up your nipples before your baby is born to breastfeed. My mom actually said she was told to use a towel to do this, but this is a wives' tale and is not true.

Myth #2: Not all women produce enough milk to breastfeed. Actually, your breasts have to be stimulated by the baby in order to begin and keep milk production. The baby's appetite is what increases or decreases the amount of milk your body will make. In essence if you continue to stimulate your breasts milk production will not cease. In the first few weeks of breastfeeding, it is very typical to feel like you are not producing enough milk for your baby, but this is actually far from the truth. When a baby is first-born they only need a very small amount to become full since their stomachs are so small.

Myth #3: My nipples are flat, inverted, too big...I can't breastfeed. Actually, no matter what type of nipples you may have you still can breastfeed, you just need to find the way that suits you best. Practice definitely makes perfect.

Myth #4: My nipples are cracked, hurt, raw and I can't breastfeed. Actually, it is very typical to feel this way when you first begin to breastfeed after your child's birth. You will notice this when you first begin breastfeeding since your body and your baby are acclimating. He/she is still learning how to breastfeed and growing pains will occur until you both figure it out. This is a telltale sign that your baby doesn't have a proper latch or has not learned to suck properly. My son didn't suck correctly when he was first-born and after feedings my nipples would be raw and looked similar to a new lipstick. Actually this is the time you need to stay committed and continue to nurse. After pushing through that tough time, the soreness went away. On a side note, if you have soreness express some of you breast milk by hand and rub it on your nipple and areola. Breast milk has lots of it's own healing properties and will help with this as well.

Myth #5: You can't eat or drink certain things while you breastfeed because they will affect your baby. This is the one that I found I ran into most often with family and friends constantly saying don't eat this or that you will give the baby gas, make the baby fussy,  etc.This is so untrue. It is a proven fact that a mother can eat whatever she would like (although healthy food is definitely recommended) and the only things that affect breast milk are things that enter the bloodstream when ingested. Your body is an awesome filtration system, however, drugs and alcohol are the only things that can affect your milk as well as your baby.

Myth #6: A mother should nurse on one breast per feeding. Actually, it is best to offer one breast and if the baby is not satisfied always offer the second breast. Your breasts, in layman's terms produce two things that are critical to the baby's diet, immunity and good fat to help the baby grow. Offering both breasts will help the baby to receive both.

Myth #7: Breastfed babies need extra water. Breastfed babies do not need more water than regular bottle fed babies. Water is achieved during nursing, however, I offer water to my son in the beginning for him to get used to drinking it.

Myth #8: You cannot breastfeed your baby if you are sick. This is the best time to breastfeed! Your baby will receive the antibodies that your body is creating to fight whatever sickness off you have and hopefully keep them from getting sick as well.

Myth #9: There is no nutritional value in breast milk after 12 months of nursing. Actually, the body adjusts to what the baby needs regardless if they are eating real foods. A child's immune system is not fully developed until the age of 4 so breast milk compliments the regular diet by still giving your child that immunity boost that they need until then.

Myth #10: Nursing will cause your breasts to sag. Actually, the increase in size of the breasts during pregnancy is what causes them to sag. This is not due to nursing.

I could go on forever dispelling myths that I have run into. Check with your lactation specialist to find out the truth. Please feel free to contact me as well. I would love to help!

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