Let’s bust some breastfeeding myths!
By Elizabeth Nagle
There’s no doubt about it; breastfeeding is one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences a woman will go through. Everyone seems to have an opinion, and each persons’ is different than the next! It can be so confusing trying to sort the fact from the fiction, so I’m here to help! Here are 5 common myths you’ve probably heard, or will hear, about breastfeeding, and why they’re just not true!
I’m not getting much milk when I pump – My supply must be low
Although this seems like a logical conclusion to come to, it couldn’t be further from the truth. The amount of milk you express, whether by hand or with a pump, isn’t an accurate reflection of how much milk you have.
This is because nothing is better at getting milk than baby! Your breasts respond to your baby’s saliva and sucking, triggering your let down and getting out milk more efficiently than a pump.
Some women just don’t respond well to hand expressing or pumping, and that’s fine. As long as bub is having enough wet nappies in a day, your supply is fine!
Bub is wanting to be on the boob constantly – I must not be making enough milk
Cluster feeding is normal in the early days of breastfeeding, but it can definitely suck! It can feel like all you’re doing is feeding, and that’s pretty much right. It can be draining, and there’s no shame in finding it frustrating when bub wants to feed for the millionth time in an hour. Just try to keep in mind that it’s all for a good reason; baby is trying to regulate your supply. Bub isn’t feeding all the time because they’re starving. Watch their nappy output, but the majority of the time it’s just cluster feeding causing them to be boobie monsters.
Though it may seem never ending, before you know it bub will be feeding a lot less often. Once your supply has settled to the right amount that bub needs, you might also notice your breasts feeling softer. This doesn’t mean your supply has dropped, it just means your breasts are making the perfect volume of milk, and aren’t too full (unless you have an oversupply, which can also happen).
You can’t get pregnant while you’re breastfeeding
This is a really common myth, which has led to many women falling pregnant again sooner than expected. While it’s true that if you meet a very specific set of conditions, it can be 98% effective, the fact is that it’s hard for most women to follow them to the letter. It also stops being effective once you’ve had your first period post-baby. For some women this can happen quite soon after birth, within a few weeks or months, so they aren’t protected from pregnancy anymore.
Because of the trickiness in keeping this method effective, it’s best to chat to your GP about other contraceptive methods that are safe while breastfeeding. Don’t rely on breastfeeding to keep you from getting pregnant, unless you’re prepared for the possibility of another baby!
Bottle-fed babies sleep better than breastfed babies
The reason that breastfed babies may wake more often (or at least appear to) than formula-fed babies is because breast milk is digested a lot faster by their little tummies, thanks to the lack of things that need to be filtered out after they have their milk. Breast milk is perfectly tailored to your bub; they retain almost all of what they take in.
Formula-fed babies might seem to sleep longer, because it takes them more time to digest formula. There’s more waste that bub needs to filter out when they drink formula, so while they may be asleep for longer, the quality of sleep isn’t necessarily the best.
Don’t give in to bottle feeding, just because you think, or you’ve been told, that it’s what bubs needs to sleep through the night. Your milk is the best thing for bub, especially thanks to the sleepy-time hormones that are released during night time feeds.
You’re can’t drink any alcohol when you’re breastfeeding
If you would rather abstain from drinking altogether while feeding, that’s your prerogative, but just know that you don’t have to avoid alcohol while you’re nursing. Many mums, including myself, go by the mantra, ‘Safe to drive, safe to feed.’ This is because the amount of alcohol (when consumed responsibly, of course) that goes into your milk is like a shot in a swimming pool.
The main concern when drinking while you have a baby is more about your motor skills; if you’re drunk then you’re a lot more likely to injure your baby, especially by dropping them. One or two drinks here and there won’t harm bub at all, but if you’d like an idea of when the alcohol has left your system after a drink, you can check out the Feed Safe app. It’s a great resource for breastfeeding mums who want to have a drink every so often.
Of course, the official recommendation is to not have any alcohol at all while breastfeeding, but this is because it is too hard to create a set of standards for all women, due to the range of differences in height, weight and metabolism. Do what you feel comfortable with, and be responsible.
So, there you have it. 5 busted breastfeeding myths! I hope you’ve learned something new, and feel more confident in your decisions as a mother. You know your child better than anyone, so trust your intuition. That doesn’t mean you ignore any advice you get, but keep an open mind, and help correct misinformation when you hear or see it. You just might help another mum get her confidence back about breastfeeding! Remember, breastfeeding is the biological norm for your baby, so keep on boobing!
Guest Blogger Elizabeth lives in Brisbane with her husband and daughter. She’s a passionate breastfeeding advocate, and wants to spread awareness and education about breastfeeding, to help other mums have the best nursing journey they can.
Elizabeth loves to write whenever she gets the chance (which isn’t often with a toddler). She also enjoys food, wine, and lazy days with Netflix.