7 Breastfeeding Myths Busted

breastfeeding myths busted

When I was pregnant, labour didn’t scare me. The way I looked at it, this baby was coming out one way or another so the pair of us might as well just get on with it. The thing that did give me sleepless nights however, was breastfeeding…

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I was terrified of everything from not producing enough milk, to ending up with cracked nipples and sagging breasts. Of course, like any mum-to-be, I wanted to give my baby the best start in life, but after endless Google searches, which turned up an array of inconsistent and contradictory breastfeeding material, I was confused about which path to take – the bottle, the breast, or both?

In the end I went with the breast and after a slightly painful, tiring, frustrating and yet, rewarding start, I am now into my fourth week and absolutely loving it. That said, the whole thing left me wondering how many other mum-to-bes are finding it difficult to separate fact from fiction when it comes to feeding their newborns. With this in mind, I caught up with Dru Campbell, midwife at Healthbay Polyclinic, to bust the top seven myths that surround breastfeeding.

Myth number one
Some women can’t produce their own milk
Dru says:
“Only two percent of women globally are unable to produce enough milk to breastfeed. Therefore the majority of women are able to make all the milk their baby needs.”

Myth number two
You only need to breastfeed for the first six weeks in order to nurse your baby through the most critical part of infancy
Dru says:
“According to the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, it is recommended that women breastfeed exclusively for six months and then continue breastfeeding once the baby commences solids for two years and beyond. Obviously this will vary from woman to woman and there will be many factors dependent on this, such as choice to cease breastfeeding and breastfeeding challenges. Some women may also find that work commitments throw a spanner in the works when it comes to long-term breastfeeding. In this circumstance, an alternative option is expressing milk with a breast pump.”

Myth number three
Formula is just as good as breast milk
Dru says:
“The main constituent of breast milk is live cells, which assist with developing and maintaining the baby’s immune system. Unfortunately, formula does not contain these cells, nor does it have the numerous nutrients and minerals that breast milk is bursting with. The other thing to consider is that breast milk is designed by nature for human babies, whereas formula is based on cow’s milk.”

Myth number four
Eating spicy food while breastfeeding will give your baby colic
Dru says:
“Every woman is different and so is every baby. If you have eaten a lot of spicy food during your pregnancy, your baby may not be affected by it when you breastfeed. However, it is all about trial and error. For example, if you are not used to eating spicy foods, your baby may experience wind and abdominal discomfort as a result. Ultimately it might be worth avoiding it if you think it may make your baby uncomfortable.”

Myth number five
Breastfeeding changes the shape of your breasts
Dru says:
“Sometimes a change in the shape of your breast may be the result of pregnancy and hormones, but it is also true that for some women breastfeeding will also play a part.”

Myth number six
It’s selfish not to breastfeed your baby
Dru says:
“I believe every woman should have the choice to feed their baby how they wish to. However, I would always recommend getting as much information about breastfeeding and formula feeding to make an informed choice. One way to do this is to attend antenatal classes, which give you the opportunity to learn about the mechanics of breastfeeding.”

Myth number seven
Breastfeeding is painful
Dru says:
“Breastfeeding can be tender for the first few weeks, but it should not be excruciatingly painful. If it is, it may mean that your baby is not latching on or attaching correctly. I would recommend gaining help and support from a qualified health professional, such as a midwife or lactation consultant if you are facing challenges.”

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