Whether you heard it from a friend or read it on the internet, there’s a lot of misinformation about breastfeeding. So straight from the gynecologist’s mouth, we’re debunking the most common misconceptions about breastfeeding.
1. If you have smaller breasts, you won’t produce enough milk.
Breast size doesn’t affect how much milk you can produce. The amount of time you spend nursing your baby, the demand from your baby, and practicing healthy nursing habits will affect your production. There are many small-breasted women who produce enough milk to donate to milk banks.
2. Breastfeeding always hurts.
If you’ve never breastfed, or if it’s been a while since you breastfed, then your nipples may be a bit sore when you begin. However, this should go away after a couple of days. If your baby isn’t latching onto your nipple properly, the soreness can become debilitating. However, there’s an easy fix! With practice and assistance from a lactation consultant or midwife, you can achieve pain-free breastfeeding within weeks.
3. Some babies can’t latch.
It’s important to develop healthy nursing habits as soon as possible with a proper latching technique to avoid your baby getting into the habit of latching incorrectly. About 4% of the time, there’s something called “tongue-tie,” which can cause problems when latching – something that can easily be corrected in your doctor’s office.
4. You should wean your baby off breast milk after 12 months.
Interestingly enough, American culture is one of the few that pressures you to start weaning your baby at 12 months. Most babies will naturally begin to wean themselves between 12 and 24 months as they start walking and eating normal foods. Breastfeeding may become a ritual saved for waking up, taking a nap, going to bed, or for comfort. How long you choose to breastfeed is entirely up to you and your baby; however, experts recommend exclusively breastfeeding for at least four months.
5. Breastmilk doesn’t have enough water, vitamin D, or iron.
The beauty of breastmilk is that it contains everything your baby needs at that time in its life. Your body does this amazing thing where it changes with every feeding to match your baby’s needs. For example, if it’s hotter, your breastmilk will be more water-based. If your baby is growing, your breast milk will have more fats and proteins. Your baby is getting exactly what it needs from your breast milk.
6. It’s illegal to breastfeed in public.
Actually, there are laws in place in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rice, and the Virgin Islands to protect people who breastfeed! You have the right to breastfeed in public and private locations, so don’t feel pressure to hold off feeding or use a public restroom. You can read more about breastfeeding in public here: https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/breastfeeding-state-laws.aspx#State
7. Breastmilk and formula are essentially the same thing.
While formula is made to mimic breastmilk, it doesn’t have the antibodies or versatility that breastmilk does. Breastmilk is able to adapt to your babies’ specific needs, whereas formula cannot. For most babies, breastmilk is the best source of nutrition and can provide antibodies that formula cannot. This past June, the American Academy of Pediatricians updated their guidance and recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months of life and encourages breastfeeding for up to 2 years. There are situations where breastfeeding isn’t possible or is contraindicated. Formula and donor milk are viable options when breastmilk is unavailable. You can read more about breastmilk verses formula here: https://forms.lamaze.org/WhatsinBreastmilkPoster.pdf
8. If you’re taking medications, you should either “pump and dump” or not breastfeed at all.
Contrary to popular belief, most medications are considered to be safe while breastfeeding. Usually, medication levels are much lower in breastmilk than they are in your bloodstream. However, it’s advisable to contact a healthcare provider if you’re on medications while pregnant and/or lactating. You can read more about taking medications while breastfeeding here: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/breastfeeding-your-baby
If you have any questions about breastfeeding, what breastfeeding could look like for you, or any concerns, call Greenville Women’s Clinic at 252-757-3131 or visit our website to schedule an appointment with our midwife Sarah Sears. We’d love to help you focus on the joys of breastfeeding rather than the fears.