I am so so passionate about breastfeeding. I honestly believe it is one of the most beautiful things in the world, and how incredible is it that our bodies produce a substance so perfect for our babies? There is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding breastfeeding and I love talking to people about it and ‘debunking’ myths that some have about breastfeeding. I’ve picked out some common things I’ve heard over the last year to try and raise a better understanding. I’m no medical expert, but I am a mum who has done her research, is enthusiastic and would love to support other women in their breastfeeding journeys!
“Expressing milk will show how much you have.”
This varies so much depending on the individual. I was really lucky and from the moment Ted was born I could pump about 5 ounces in 5 minutes. Other women aren’t as lucky though, and can only get 1 in 10 minutes at times! This is no reflection of how much milk you are actually producing. Remember that pumping milk is not a natural process. It stimulates the nipple, but it is the saliva in a babies mouth that encourages the production of milk.
“My baby feeds too much- I’m not producing enough milk.”
All I really need to say here is CLUSTER FEEDING. Oh my god… No one warned me about CF before my son was born and if I hadn’t have researched it I would have thought the exact same thing. I had a very very hungry baby. He’d want milk 10 minutes after his last feed and every night would feed for hours and hours before bed.
“My boobs are soft and not full anymore so I think my milk has dried up.”
You probably don’t like the look of them now they’ve gone soft, but honestly, this is a good thing. It means your supply has settled and your producing just the right amount. That full feeling might come back from time to time and they won’t stay like that after feeding. I finished feeding 3 weeks ago and my ‘fullness’ in terms of fat (rather than milk) has returned!
“He didn’t feed for very long.”
This one is polar opposite to what most people are probably used to. I had a woman in a feeding room make this comment to me. She was also feeding her baby and I thought it was a very strange thing to comment on. Sometimes babies want a meal and sometimes they just want a little sip to drink. Sometimes they want 3 entire courses plus drinks! Once feeding is established the length of feeds can vary, especially dependant on weather and times of day.
“Breastfed babies are clingy and don’t get to bond with their dads.”
Oh man, I hate this one! A big thing i hate about it is it implies the only way you can bond with your baby is by feeding them! Dads can cuddle too. They can change nappies and get baby’s first giggle out. My son and partner have the strongest of bonds and breastfeeding doesn’t take that away from a father.
“Many mothers aren’t capable of breastfeeding.”
This is partly correct in that it is right, some mothers just aren’t physically capable of breastfeeding. Some mothers are also on medication that is crucial to their physical or mental wellbeing and it means that they cannot breastfeed either. But this really isn’t as many as are made out, and unfortunately most the time it is down to a lack of support received.
“You can’t drink alcohol while you breastfeed.”
I’ve had to explain this one more that any of the others! I love the odd glass of wine or cocktail here and there, and it bothers me that I can sometimes be judged for drinking and then feeding. The truth is that alcohol has such a minimal effect on your milk supply.
“Breastfed babies don’t sleep.”
Okay, so my baby is not a great example of this… but there’s this toxic rumour that breastfed babies don’t sleep and it’s not true! Formula fed babies often sleep better as formula is harder to digest and therefore they stay fuller for longer. Even so, it is completely down to luck and depends on what age your baby learns to self soothe.
“I don’t think I would have been able to breastfeed because my milk didn’t come in until over a week.”
The more baby is on the breast, the quicker the milk comes! My milk took 5 or 6 days to come in. Before milk, babies feed on colostrum which is also known as liquid gold. This is all baby will need in that duration as their tummies are only the size of a 50 pence coin!
To begin with breastfeeding can hurt if the latch is all wrong. Also, your nipples can sometimes hurt to start off with as they adapt to their new purpose. It’s nothing a bit of nipple cream won’t fix!
“You’ll have to get him on a bottle before he has teeth.”
What’s so scary about teeth and breastfeeding? Ted bites me once every time a new tooth comes through. But it isn’t a hard bite, it’s just he is learning to get comfortable and get a new latch now his mouth is different! If baby bites, firmly tell them no and try not to react.
“Formula and breastmilk are exactly the same.”
Whichever way you choose to feed, science is amazing. We are lucky that formula is there to replicate some of the goodness of breastmilk, but unfortunately formula only contains a fifth of the goodness of breastmilk. Breastmilk serves as medicine as well as nutrition, and contains hormones that cannot be replicated that boost brain development, fight infections and viruses and protect against long term disease into adulthood. And that is amongst many other things!
“Premature babies can’t be breastfed.”
This one makes me especially sad because of course they can!!! Colostrum and milk can be expressed for tube fed babies and although that latch may be a bit harder to establish, with the support of midwives and perseverance you and baby can get there. Breastmilk will adapt to a premature birth and become extra fatty for weight gain and produce extra proteins specifically for brain development.