breastfeeding, Tampa photographer, Sun State Doulas

Top 5 Breastfeeding Myths Exposed

5) Oral Anatomy of baby does not affect breastfeeding.

Amy Bohler IBCLC, said in her recent blog post about her newborn’s tongue tie:

“During my time helping moms and babies breastfeed, I’ve seen the wide range of effects lip and tongue restrictions can have on the breastfeeding relationship. Some babies have difficulty latching; others latch but cause their moms severe nipple pain and damage. Sometimes no pain is present, but the baby has trouble removing enough milk for good growth and healthy milk supply. Sometimes mom and baby can compensate for the lip and tongue restriction and it has no negative effect. Because tongue and lip ties present in many ways and manifest such varying effects on the breastfeeding relationship, there’s no consensus on when and how to treat. There’s no way to know just how extensively tongue tie is going affect the dyad by appearance alone.”

The confusion happens when parents experiencing difficulty get varying opinions and advice.  Pediatricians are not trained to diagnose breastfeeding issues and specifically have been trained in a wait and see approach in regard to tongue ties.  To all moms and health professionals, if a mom is concerned then all avenues of help should be sought. If you suspect this may be an issue there are qualified lactation professionals that are able to advise you to see either a pediatric ENT or a pediatric dentist who is qualified to diagnose and discuss revision.

 4) You must be perfect to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding is unlike pregnancy as its duration can go on for as long as mom and child desire.  When working with moms, most of them are eagerly looking forward to the day they are no longer pregnant so they can go back to doing some of the things they enjoy.  One of these things is drinking alcohol.  People have come up with products like milk test strips and different equations to figure out when and how to drink and still safely breastfeed.  I like to keep it simple.  If you are sober enough to drive then you are sober enough to breastfeed.  I add no tipsy driving/no tipsy nursing.  It is safe to assume that pregnant women in America are aware of the dangers of drinking in pregnancy. Here is a word of warning to all my pregnant friends: YOU WILL BE A CHEAP DATE.  That first alcoholic beverage will affect you very differently than you may expect.  Therefore it is wise to wait till breastfeeding is established, approximately 4-6 weeks, and have a few ounces of back-up milk to give baby and/or wait until you know baby will be asleep for 2 hours plus.

The other issue I have to be perfect with in order to breastfeed is your food choices.  Women can have sub par diets and provide excellent nutrition to their babies.  It is, of course, important to eat healthy and have a balanced diet with lots of nutrients.  When your diet is not optimal, the issue will be less with your milk and more with overall well-being and health.  Your health and your diet will affect how much energy you have to deal with being a mom.  You do not have to be perfect to breastfeed, but there are things that you can do that make you feel better while breastfeeding.  One of them is a good diet and exercise.

 3) Baby’s should not use you as a pacifier.

Let’s consider about this:  why were pacifiers and artificial teets invented?  They were invented to replace mom’s breasts. If you are breastfeeding exclusively (or not) and bringing baby to the breast soothes your baby, then there is nothing wrong with feeling like baby is at the breast all the time.  It is normal to have this perception. Often in our sleep deprived first weeks we are actually not constantly attached to our babies. Although we may feel this way.  Allowing babies to have unlimited access to the breast is the best way to ensure a good future milk supply.  Timing babies and training babies is dangerous to your milk supply. Please discuss any feelings or issues you have with breastfeeding with a trained lactation professional. Understand that not all health professionals understand the best way to help you reach breastfeeding success.

 2) Once a baby can/ or has _________  you should stop breastfeeding.

Historically and anthropologically speaking a child’s natural weaning age is anywhere from 2 ½ to 7 years old.  Even if a baby has from one to all of his teeth, you can still breastfeed.  Another favorite of this is, “Once a baby can ask for it then they should stop nursing.”  My son began asking for it at birth.  My knowledge and ability to read his feeding cues was him communicating to me his hunger.  You may think, Well, that’s not what we mean.” We mean that baby should not be speaking and asking for it. It is universally agreed upon that infants should have either breast milk or artificial baby milk till at least age one.  My son and many children have a word or a sign for breast milk starting as early as six months.  My son would ask for “Mum Mums” at around 8 months.  So under the rational that once a baby can ask for it I should stop breastfeeding, then I should have transitioned my son to a bottle of formula at this time for the next four months.  This makes no sense.  We should all breastfeed our babies to our own comfort levels.  My comfort level for breastfeeding my son ended around 18 months, but I pushed myself to continue to breastfeed him for our mutual benefit until right after his second birthday.  Understanding that natural weaning is normal is not to say it is for everyone.  Do what works best for you and your family.

 1) Breastfeeding has to hurt.

We all have heard  of someone with a painful breastfeeding experience.  While this is common it is not normal.  I would not do something 10 to 12 times a day that was painful.  The species would have long been extinct if it was supposed to hurt.  Please see my latch blog, Why does it hurt? 

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Cat Halek

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