This is part 2 of a series I am doing in celebration of me reaching the 3 year milestone of breastfeeding one of my children. You can see Part 1 here if you missed it. I am busting common breastfeeding myths and setting the facts straight. I compiled this list from things I have either been told or heard at one point or another. There are also a few that friends of mine wanted me to touch on. Enjoy!
“Help! I am not producing enough because my baby nurses a lot / or when I pump I only get a couple ounces”
These are probably two of the most common concerns/ myths I hear. There are MANY reasons a breast fed baby could be nursing more often. ie: growth spurt, building supply, mother is on her period (some women report a dip in supply due to hormones during her cycle), baby is just hungry, nursing for comfort.
As far as getting a small amount of milk when pumping. A breast pump will never be as efficient at getting milk from the breast as a baby. So while you may only pump 2 ounces, there could really be 4, 5 or 6 ounces in your breasts. It could be the type of pump (manual or electric) or just your body. My body does not react well to electric pumps. I can have engorged breasts and get maybe an ounce or two out with my electric pump. Now when I use my manual pump, I have gotten as much as 10 ounces out in one pumping session. If you are a mother who has recently gone back to work and is noticing a decrease in the amount of milk you are pumping, it could very well be the start of a supply issue as like I said, a pump will never completely drain a breast the way a baby will. You would want to look into ways of increasing your supply.
“I just found out I am pregnant, now I need to stop breastfeeding my first child”
This one is something I even hear women say that their doctors told them. It can be true depending on circumstances but in MOST cases, a woman can breastfeed throughout a subsequent pregnancy no problem. The main concern with this is that breastfeeding releases a hormone called oxytocin which is the same hormone that causes contractions during labor. So if you are a woman with a history of preterm labor, you will want to discuss this with your doctor. If you have no history of this, you are most likely just fine to nurse on! I personally have breastfed for 5 months of my second pregnancy with out any concerns or problems arising. In fact, my midwife encouraged me to continue nursing while I was pregnant.
“You can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding”
While many still believe this to be true, it is false. It is still very possible to get pregnant while breast feeding. Been there, done that 😉 While some women notice that their period is slow to return, not all women are so lucky and will have their first post partum cycle return within the first 6 months to a year. Even if you are not getting a regular cycle yet, you can still get pregnant! So if you are wanting to avoid pregnancy while nursing you will want to talk to your care provider about which contraception is best for you or use natural family planning (NFP).
“Breast milk is only good for the first year, once a child turns one, you must wean because there is no nutritional value”
This is another one that I just shake my head at. I think this one is more or less because of society’s view on breastfeeding past infancy. Many people think it is unnecessary, inappropriate or selfish of the mother. There is NO expiration on a mother’s breast milk. In fact:
In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
- 29% of energy requirements
- 43% of protein requirements
- 36% of calcium requirements
- 75% of vitamin A requirements
- 76% of folate requirements
- 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
- 60% of vitamin C requirements
– Dewey 2001
I actually have great peace of mind since I continue to nurse my kids past 1 year because we all know toddlers can be picky eaters. But knowing that they are also getting breast milk makes me feel better knowing they are getting complete nutrition on their pickiest days.
“If you breastfeed, your child will be a picky eater”
It is actually quite the opposite. While toddlers in general are picky eaters, breast fed toddlers tend to be less picky because the taste and flavor of breast milk changes depending on what the mother eats. So while they are nursing, they are getting an assortment of flavors before they even start solids.
“I am sick (or taking a medication) so I have to stop breastfeeding”
I get asked this one by every mother who comes to me for help. What bugs me even more is when she tells me her doctor said she should probably stop for this reason. I have breast fed through sinus infections, the flu, colds etc. The good thing about the time we live in is that there has been lots of research on medications that are safe for a breastfeeding mother to take through out many illnesses. If you are sick and needing medication, be sure to talk to your doctor about prescribing a safe medication. There are also many resources online, my favorite being KellyMom, who has charts and lists of medications that are safe. And as I mentioned in part 1, it is actually good to continue nursing a baby through sickness because your body will be busy creating antibodies that your baby will receive via breast milk and so he may not even get sick or may have a toned down version or shortened length of illness. A mother can still continue nursing if she ends up with mastitis. I have not ever had this personally, but have heard many women successful in continuing their breastfeeding journey through clogged ducts and mastitis. I have heard it can be very painful but very possible.
“my baby is having an allergic reaction to my breast milk so the pediatrician said I need to switch to formula”
It is actually EXTREMELY rare for a baby to be allergic to his mother’s breast milk. Our milk is made for our babies. There are extreme cases of life threatening illnesses (galactosemia being the most common but still very rare) where immediate weaning is the only choice. In most cases, what is confused is that baby is reacting to food proteins that have been passed into the mother’s milk after she ate it. Most common being dairy. I talk about this in my blog post, Breastfeeding a Child With Food Allergies. If your child’s pediatrician is recommending weaning, I highly encourage the mother to start an elimination diet and contacting her local La Leche League or lactation consultant for assistance.
I hope this has been helpful to any mamas who are currently breast feeding and don’t have a lot of support or any woman wanting to eventually breast feed. I do believe having faith in yourself PLUS having a support system helps with having success. My husband has been 100% supportive in me breastfeeding our children and I know that has really played a huge role in our breastfeeding journey. If you have questions, please post in the comments. I am in no way a certified lactation consultant, so if you are really struggling, I urge you to contact one. Also, if you are looking for support, look for your local La Leche League group. If there is a question or myth you didn’t see in this 2 part series, please leave it in the comments and I just might make a part 3. Also, if you like what you see, please share and “like” my post at the bottom of this page!
Breast feeding is really more than just feeding your child. It is also comfort, bonding and love. It is one of the most rewarding things I have been able to do for our children as a parent and I feel extremely lucky that I have been able to do it. If you are a mama wanting to breastfeed, I urge you to prepare yourself mentally. Check out the resources I love below for more information. You can do it!
Did you miss Part 1? Check it out here.
Resources I Love:
*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The information in this blog is my opinion and should only ever be used in place of your doctor’s advice at your own risk. As always, do your research and decide what is best for you and your family!
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