Breastfeeding myths – we’ve all heard them: bigger breasts mean more milk, you can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding (who’s ended up with a surprise bundle of joy this way?!). We’re busting the seven most common breastfeeding myths, because this nursing journey is often difficult enough, without misinformation leading you astray.
1. Breastfeeding is natural – and therefore should come naturally
Let’s just lay it all out on the line from the get-go: breastfeeding can be really difficult. And even if it isn’t at the start, life may throw you a curveball down the track (like mastitis or thrush) and you’re back at square one. It’s a different experience for every mum, and your journey is your own. If things don’t seem right – seek help. Remember, both you and your baby are learning how to breastfeed and that learning curve may be steeper for some mums.
2. It will hurt
It may, but it shouldn’t. As both you and your newborn get the hang of latching on, there may be some discomfort. Again, don’t suffer in silence. Talk to a lactation consultant to make sure there isn’t an underlying issue causing the pain.
3. You’re not pregnant anymore, so you can eat whatever you want!
It’s true that now your baby has been born, you can relax on those stringent pregnancy food rules around listeria, and lots of mums take the opportunity to celebrate with soft cheese and sushi! But actually, you still need to keep an eye on your diet, because your nutritional needs change while you’re breastfeeding – by a huge amount. Your body’s recommended daily intake of nutrients increases by up to 188 per cent when breastfeeding, and when you’re busy and tired it can be difficult to eat well.
4. Your baby should always feed for a set amount of time
One of the best bits of advice I was given from a lactation consultant was to think of your baby’s feeds the same way you think about your own meals. Sometimes you feel like a roast with all the trimmings. Sometimes, just a snack. There’s no use watching the clock when your baby is feeding, it will only confuse you. As a general rule, your baby will probably have a larger feed in the morning, or when they’ve woken from a large stretch of sleep. They will let you know when they’ve had enough by pulling away and clamping their little mouth tight!
5. You need to feed from both breasts at each feed
It’s best to let your bub feed fully from one breast, so they get both fore and hind milk. Some mums feed from both breasts at each feed in the first couple of weeks, as they try and establish a good milk supply. Some babies will want to feed from the second breast as well, but some won’t. Or they won’t every time. Another helpful bit of information my lactation consultant gave me was that we have enough milk for twins. So remember, as long as your baby seems satisfied and full – they are.
6. Babies get all the milk they need in the first few minutes of a feed
This is certainly not true of newborns, as they’re still learning feed efficiently. Just remember to relax and let them take their time learning how to latch, suck and swallow. Some babies are quicker than others, it doesn’t mean they’re doing it right and your baby is a bad feeder. Every feeding relationship is different.
7. If your baby wants to feed all the time, you have a low milk supply
Actually, the opposite is probably true. Your body will be producing enough milk to keep up with your baby’s demands. Some babies seem to feed constantly, others have longer stretches between meals. There’s no scientific formula when it comes to how often, and for how long a baby will feed. Don’t compare your child and they way they feed to other mums. You are establishing a feeding relationship unique to you and your baby, so pat yourself on the back mama, you’re doing it right!