Not surprisingly, there is a plethora of breastfeeding myths so we’re back with Part 2 of this series. We know you’re doing all you can to be the best mom you can be. Don’t let parenting horror stories and myths discourage you. Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby, and we hope to give you a little peace of mind by providing you with accurate information.
"Nursing Moms Can Only Eat Bland Foods"
Nope. This myth has a hint of truth to it. Every once in a while, a baby will have a legitimate sensitivity or allergy to a certain food, which means mom will have to cut that out of her diet. More typically, by the time the food you eat has been digested, most of the potential offenders have been broken down and likely won’t upset your baby at all.
The most likely foods to cross into breast milk are dairy, soy, peanuts and shellfish. But it’s not likely that broccoli will make your baby gassy or last night’s curry will be too spicy for your little one.
The best course of action is to take a wait-and-see approach. Don’t alter your diet unless you notice a problem. Try keeping a food diary and, if you see a correlation between certain foods you eat and your baby seeming fussy or uncomfortable, try eliminating that food and see if it makes a difference. Our post on Foods to Eat (And Avoid) as a Breastfeeding Mom has more great information about how foods can affect your baby – and you!
Families who follow optimal breastfeeding practices can save between $1,200 and $1,500 on infant formula.
"Breastfeeding as Birth Control"
Nope. Another myth that persists is that breastfeeding is an effective form of birth control. Much like the bland food myth, this myth is rooted in a hint of truth. Most medical professionals will tell you: if baby is under 6 months, you are exclusively breastfeeding and your period hasn’t returned – it would be unlikely to conceive.
But the bottom line is – if you aren’t prepared to be pregnant again, you shouldn’t count on breastfeeding as your only form of birth control. If you already are pregnant and wondering how breastfeeding will affect your unborn baby, see our post here.
MYTH: Sick Moms Can’t Breastfeed
Nope. Illness won’t impact your ability to breastfeed, and it won’t make your baby sick either. Many mothers believe that they need to stop nursing when they are ill, so they don’t spread their illness to their little one. In reality, by the time you are actually feeling sick, the virus or infection has been in your system for a few days already.
By continuing to breastfeed, you are giving your baby much needed antibodies to help fight any illness and help him stay healthy. Many over-the-counter medications are safe to take while breastfeeding. Of course, please check with your doctor before taking anything. You will likely find any medications you have questions about in the Drugs and Lactation Database.
"You Must Use Both Breasts Each Nursing Sessions"
Nope. The idea that nursing mothers must use both breasts during each nursing session has persisted forever. However, the truth is that it is perfectly fine to only use one breast during a feeding. Just be sure that your baby is able to nurse as long as he or she needs to be satisfied.
Part of the reason many people think that both breasts should be used is because of the false idea that you “empty” your breasts during nursing and won’t produce enough milk on one side to satisfy your baby. This isn’t accurate as your breasts are never really “empty” and will produce as much as your baby’s suckling action signals them to.
But remember! Alternate breasts for the next feeding to ensure that you are signaling your body to make milk in both breasts.
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"Nighttime Feedings Aren't Important"
Nope. There is a persistent myth that breastfeeding moms get less sleep than moms who formula feed. Because of this false assumption, we see books, websites, and even medical professionals that will tell you to start minimizing nighttime feedings right away. However, this myth can actually hinder breastfeeding.
Nighttime feedings are essential to both breast milk production and baby’s growth. Especially in the first few weeks and months, your baby’s stomach is very small and he or she needs to nurse frequently around the clock in order to meet their caloric needs. Additionally, your levels of Prolactin, which is the hormone responsible for milk production, are highest at night.
Try to maintain nighttime feedings until you are sure your baby is on a healthy growth curve, producing enough wet and/or dirty diapers, and is meeting developmental milestones. See our Nighttime Breastfeeding Tips for ways to make these feedings easier and more enjoyable.
"No Way to Tell If Baby is Getting Enough Milk"
Nope. Although you cannot measure the exact amount of ounces your baby is getting if you are exclusively breastfeeding, there are ways to ensure baby is getting the amount of calories he needs. If baby regained her birth weight and is on a steady gaining curve (around 5 ounces a week is average in the first 3 months), you probably don’t need to worry if she is getting enough breast milk.
Other indicators to look for are the number of wet and dirty diapers each day, meeting developmental milestones and a generally satisfied baby. As always, if you have any concerns contact your child’s pediatrician.
Being a new mom can make you feel like you’re on information overload. Keeping yourself informed is always the best approach. Just be sure to take people’s advice with a grain of salt and make sure the information you’re receiving is accurate. We’re here to help point you in the right direction.