|Photo by Paulien Maria|
While I adamantly advocate breastfeeding, both for mother and babies health and mental state, I know that it's not always perfect. However, if a woman is well informed and has real facts as well as support, her chances of having a wonderful nursing experience and giving her baby the best nutrition possible is much greater.
If you decide not to breastfeed your baby, make sure you are doing so based on facts and not misinformation that you were fed by someone with an ulterior motive or a well intentioned but misguided family member or friend.
Here are some common myths that a new mother may hear, followed by an explanation and a handful of links to expert resources:
You have to have a perfect, or near perfect diet to breastfeed. This is simply false. A mothers body will take what it needs from anywhere in her body to make the milk her baby needs. This is even stated on the Enfamil website, (along with a lot of scare tactics and further anti-breastfeeding myths).
This screen capture that I took from the Enfamil website says it all:
KellyMom; How Does Milk Production Work
KellyMom; Breastmilk Composition
Ask Dr. Sears; Comparison of Human Milk and Formula
Ann Prentice: Constituents of Human Milk
If your boobies are little, you won't be able to breastfeed. I am shocked that this myth is still being tossed around. The truth is, most of what makes up a breast is fat. All of us girls have the same equipment inside, some have more cushion than others. A small breast still contains the mammary glands and milk ducts and all of the necessary workings to feed a baby everything it needs.
Breastfeeding With Small Breasts
Living With Small A-cup Breasts
iVillage; Q&A With Debbie Donovan
Your Breasts Will be Ruined. When you become pregnant, your breasts will swell and your areolas will darken and grow. After your baby is born, your milk will come in regardless of whether you are nursing or feeding formula, and last for about a week if you don't nurse. After your milk dries up, your breasts deflate and you're left with these limp little pouches of skin that look nothing like they did pre-pregnancy. Sorry, but that's a fact of motherhood choosing not to breastfeed won't "save" them.
On the other hand, breastfeeding is attributed to a marked decrease in breast cancer, and doctors all around agree that breastfeeding is great for your boobs!
LiveStrong; Will Breastfeeding Ruin My Breasts?
Baby Center; Expert Answers with Jan Barger
Mama Birth; Breastfeeding Changes Breasts
PhD in Parenting; Sagging Breasts, What's to Blame?
You can't go out in public if you're breastfeeding. This is a myth that I actually fell for, and it was a huge part of what ruined my nursing relationship with my second child. I felt like I couldn't leave the house, and when I did I was often holed up in my car, a restroom or somebodies "back room" when I went to visit relatives and friends. I believed that the comfort level of adults was more important than the needs of my baby. I tried to schedule my outings around my babies feedings, and my husband felt chained to the house as well. It was part of the reason he encouraged me to quit nursing. That was thirteen years ago, but many women still feel this way. Not having any support whatsoever and being completely uninformed, I also didn't realize that breastfeeding in public is protected by law.
National Conference of State Legislatures; Breastfeeding Laws
KellyMom; Breastfeeding in Public
Your baby will eat nonstop. It is true that breastfed babies do get hungry sooner after being fed than formula fed babies but this is actually a good thing. The reason is that breast milk is easier to digest than formula and therefore it is processed more quickly. But appetites between children vary, regardless of what they are fed.
Breastfeeding is also very soothing for a baby and biologically speaking, comfort nursing is highly beneficial both for the mother and the child. There are times it may feel like your baby wants to nurse constantly and yes, that can be stressful. This normally signals a growth spurt and it's important to remember that these periods are only temporary.
KellyMom; Frequent Nursing
What to Expect; Breastfeeding Frequency
March of Dimes; Feeding Your Baby
The Baby Bond; Comfort Nursing
You won't be able to tell if your baby is getting enough to eat. A mother can tell if her baby is emptying her breast. She can also hear and feel her baby swallowing. The idea that a mother cannot tell if her baby is eating enough is silly. You may not be able to tell if your baby is eating six ounces or ten, but you can tell when your baby is full and you can tell if your baby is peeing and pooping as much as they ought to be. You can also monitor your babies growth and really, there's very little mystery involved.
Mayo Clinic; How to Gauge Breastfeeding Success
La Leche League International; How can I tell if my baby is getting enough milk?
Parents; How Can I Tell if My Baby is Eating Enough?
Sex will become painful. Geez, buy some lube. I'm sorry, that was insensitive. When my first child was born, my husband and I both noticed that not only was my libido diminished significantly, vaginal dryness was also an issue. Funny though, I only breastfed my first baby for 24 hours. Many things can cause these changes, including motherhood and even birth control. Estrogen levels can be lower in women who breastfeed, which is said to cause vaginal dryness, however, this does not occur in all women who breastfeed and as I stated above, it also happens in women who do not nurse. Also, there are remedies for that.
Mayo Clinic; Vaginal Dryness
Web MD; Painful Sex Common After Childbirth
Wikipedia; Sex After Pregnancy
Breastfeeding and Sex
You're going to get an infection and be in a lot of pain. You might get an infection, and it may be painful. Many women breastfeed multiple children over a period of years and never experience thrush or mastitis. While both can occur, they do not happen to every woman. Infections are preventable, and treatment is very effective and works quickly. According to the Web MD article linked below, it appears only one or two out of ten women will get mastitis while breastfeeding so don't let your next-door neighbors harrowing tale of her breast infection scare you out of nursing your own baby.
Web MD; How Common is Mastitis?
Dr. Sears; Facts About Mastitis
Mayo Clinic; Mastitis Prevention
KellyMom; Natural Treatments For Nursing Moms
Breastfeeding hurts. In the initial weeks, nipples can become sore for many women. There are plenty of products that can help relieve sore nipples and after the initial six weeks or so, they will adjust to the sensation completely. It can feel awkward in the beginning while you and your baby learn how your breasts work. This time is often a blur however, and after a couple of months breastfeeding will be a nonevent; something that feels natural, instinctual and involve relatively little sensation other than the comfort of your baby resting in your arms, being nourished by your body. So yes, this one is true for many women in the very beginning of their breastfeeding journey but it is very short period of time.
Breastfeeding Basics; Sore Nipples
Mother 2 Mother; Nipple Pain
Native Remedies; Sore Nipples
Breastfeeding; How to Treat Sore Nipples
Only the mom can feed the baby so it's not fair to the dad. First, it is not true that only the mom can feed the baby if she breastfeeds. Many mothers are able to pump milk and although nipple confusion can be a factor for some babies, many babies are able to switch from breast to bottle without incident - though it is recommended to not introduce bottles or pacifiers until the nursing relationship has been well established. Second: there are many ways a father can bond with his baby that don't involve feeding. Fathers can take a lead role in their infants life by cuddling, rocking, bathing and finding other ways to interact with their child. The same holds true for grandparents and other family members.
Code Name: Mama; 50 Ways Dads Can Bond With Babies
KellyMom; How to Bottle Feed the Breastfed Baby
Mother 2 Mother; Nipple Confusion
Ask Dr. Sears; Getting Baby to Take a Bottle
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*******This gathering of breastfeeding support comes in response to the Weston A. Price Foundation’s (WAPF) continued stance on breastfeeding, which we all have a great concern with. While the WAPF does support breastfeeding as the best option for feeding babies, it does so with a caveat. Breastfeeding mothers must follow the strict tenants of the WAPF diet and mothers who are not following their nutrient dense diet recommendations would be better off feeding their babies homemade formula (based on the WAPF recipe). In addition, they are outspoken against using donor milk. The bloggers sharing posts today are concerned with the confusion this may cause breastfeeding mothers. Not only does research support the myriad of health benefits of breast milk for babies regardless of the mother’s diet, it also outlines additional benefits of breastfeeding such as better bonding, deeper trust, and a long list of other emotional benefits. Let’s not forget the health benefits for moms! We will have a complete list of all the blog posts published today (as part of this Blog Party) in a separate post on Sunday, March 31st. We welcome you to join this blog party by linking up your own new and previously published posts which focus on any positive aspect of breastfeeding and breast milk. Please enter using the Linky Tool which can be found at Hybrid Rasta Mama, Cooking Traditional Foods, Whole New Mom, Alternative Parenting, or African Babies Don’t Cry. (All links will be subject to moderation. Any link not following the spirit of the Blog Party will be removed.)