A new mother is going to be flooded with advice from her friends and family about what she should or should not do. Some of this advice is excellent and helpful, but some is inaccurate and can lead to confusion. These are some of the myths about breastfeeding to help you get around the inaccurate advice you have been given.
Myth: Babies naturally know how to breastfeed
Truth: The baby is born with reflexes to help with breastfeeding, but just because they have these reflexes does not mean that they can automatically breastfeed successfully. This is something that is learned by both mother and baby together.
Myth: Breastfeeding hurts and sore nipples are inevitable
Undercooked meat has a risk of carrying toxoplasmosis, which is an infection from a parasite that can cause a miscarriage, so it is vital to the safety of your baby that you avoid any meat that may be undercooked.
Myth: There is no milk in the first few days
Truth: When your baby is born, its stomach is tiny, so it does not need a ton of milk to be full. Colostrum is the first milk produced during your pregnancy and it is thick and contains important nutrients your baby needs in its first days of life. More milk will come as the baby starts sucking; it just seems like it may not be enough right away.
Myth: Your nipple shape is important
Truth: In general, the shape of your nipples does not have an impact on breastfeeding, even if they are flat or inverted. The baby needs the breast, not just the nipple. However, there are some cases where the shape of the nipple can make breastfeeding a little difficult. If this happens, consult a doctor to discuss your options.
Myth: You have to drink milk to produce milk
Truth: Drinking milk does not impact your breast milk production. While it is important to be hydrated when breastfeeding, you do not have to drink milk to do so. Your body will draw what it needs to add to your breastmilk from whatever food or drinks you have had.
Myth: Wash your nipples before breastfeeding
Truth: The nipples produce substances that have good bacteria to help build the baby’s immune system, so washing your nipples takes away an important part of your baby’s health.
Myth: Babies need to nurse on a schedule
Truth: They need to be fed when they demand it. While they tend to need nursing every two or so hours, the nursing schedule needs to be the baby’s, not yours. In the first two weeks of their life, they will need feeding more often, because their tiny stomachs digest the little milk they ingest quickly.
Myth: Only nurse from one breast at each feeding
Truth: Most babies will need to nurse from both breasts in a feeding. Some will only nurse from one breast, some will take even amounts from each, and some will take most from one and top off with the other. If the baby is not interested in feeding from both breasts, but is still eating well and gaining weight appropriately, that is probably fine; just be prepared to pump a little from the other breast so it does not get engorged.