Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

5 Breastfeeding Misconceptions

There are so many breastfeeding misconceptions that sometimes, it is difficult to know where to start. While most have the best of intentions when sharing information, there are many myths that are often believed to be fact. These are five of the most common breastfeeding misconceptions.

Breastfeeding Misconception #1: Some women do not produce enough milk.

The truth is that most women actually produce more milk than a baby needs in the beginning. The problem does not lie with the mother is not producing enough milk. The reality is that baby is unable to get the milk that the mother is producing. This is usually a result of baby not latching on correctly. The way to fix this is to consult someone who is experienced with breastfeeding like a lactation consultant in a credible setting. Finding someone from La Leche League is a great idea as is talking to the lactation consultant that is usually on staff at the hospital or birthing center.

Breastfeeding Misconception #2: Breastfeeding hurts. It’s normal.

It is absolutely nowhere near normal for breastfeeding to hurt. In the beginning, a mother’s breasts may feel tender because of her milk coming in, but otherwise, breastfeeding should not hurt even when baby gets older and has teeth. If there is any discomfort that lasts longer than a few days at most, then the problem likely lies with latching issues again.

Improper latching can cause a lot of pain and even some bleeding from the friction caused when a bad latch is the cause. The only other time that breastfeeding could hurt is if there is an infection of some sort like a yeast infection, mastitis, or simply clogged milk ducts. To help alleviate the pain, reading breast pump reviews would be a good start in helping to find a breast pump to use while healing. If a yeast infection or mastitis is the issue, be aware that you might not be able to breast feed due to thrush in baby’s mouth or antibiotics that baby should not consume.

To be able to continue breastfeeding once healing has finished, pumping and dumping is the way to go. There are different types of pumps like manual pumps as well as electric breast pumps that can help you stay on course.

Breastfeeding Misconception #3: Breasts that don’t feel full don’t have enough milk.

This is a common misconception as women often believe that if their breasts do not feel engorged, then there must not be enough milk. It is a really good thing that this is not true otherwise breastfeeding would be enormously uncomfortable all of the time. The only time that breasts are engorged with milk is at the beginning when a mother’s milk first comes in.

 Generally speaking, there is an over-abundance of milk because a woman’s body is not sure how much milk baby is actually going to consume. Once a mother’s body adapts to what baby is taking in, that uncomfortable engorged feeling will go away. Waiting for breasts to feel full is probably the worst course of action because engorgement is actually a trigger to tell a woman’s body to make less milk. Because the body is adapting to proper milk consumption, it is a good idea to wait to use breast pumps until after the milk supply has been established which usually takes 4-6 weeks. If waiting is not possible, find a good quality breast pump to keep your supply going instead of losing it altogether.

Breastfeeding Misconception #4: Scheduled feedings are important in breastfed babies.

Historically, scheduled feedings were a common part of teaching parents what to expect when breastfeeding. The truth is that baby’s feeding patterns vary from baby to baby. While some babies can go for a couple of hours between feedings, others need to be fed more often. This is related to the mother’s milk supply as well as how much milk she can store in her breasts.

The bottom line is that some breasts hold more than others and placing a limit on time or duration of feeding can actually cause baby to not get the calories necessary to thrive. Feeding on cue is better and eventually, baby will settle into a pattern that may very well be unique to her. At this point, it is a good idea to invest in a good breast pump to continue pumping milk even if baby is not around. Electric breast pumps are one option if pumping in a work setting is necessary, and manual pumps are good for the occasional pumping. Definitely pump even if baby is not around so that milk supply does not diminish. It is a lot easier to lose the milk than to get it back.

Breastfeeding Misconception #5: Baby is allergic to breast milk.

Not entirely true and not entirely false, there actually is a condition where babies are allergic to breast milk, however, this is exceedingly rare and usually results in death because baby cannot get the nutrition she needs. In all actuality, when baby has an allergic reaction to mother’s milk, it is what is in the milk that causes the reaction. Common allergens include dairy, egg, wheat, and soy products. If baby’s mother is consuming any of these foods while breastfeeding, the best thing to do would be to cut out all of these products from the mother’s diet.

After eliminating these items, the mother should introduce these foods one at a time over a period of several days to see if it is in fact the culprit. It might take a little work on behalf of the mother, but if the allergen can be eliminated, then baby can continue breastfeeding.

Guest Post by Tanya Allsop, a work at home mother of two and owner of BreastPump Review Site.

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