Any woman that has given birth, and even some that haven’t, feel that they are experts when it comes to breastfeeding. That may be true to some extent.
She is an expert, when it comes to breastfeeding her own baby. But when it comes to breastfeeding another child, your child for instance, that’s where the expertise can turn into myths or just downright lies.
These are just a few of the breastfeeding myths I’ve heard since having my baby.
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Breastfeeding Myth #1 – Just Keep Trying, He’ll Figure it Out
I can’t tell you how many times I was told to just keep trying to nurse, that J would eventually figure out how to latch and we would be all good.
We tried over and over and over again, and still nothing. (Check out our breastfeeding journey)
My trying to force J to nurse was starving him. This unfortunately happens to a lot of babies out there. Sometimes they can figure it out, but sometimes it just isn’t going to happen.
If it doesn’t happen, there is no shame in that. You just make a decision on what to do next. You either start pumping or you switch to formula. Either way, the baby is fed.
Fed really is best.
Breastfeeding Myth #2 – Big Breast Means More Milk
Sorry ladies, just because you’re well-endowed does not mean that you will automatically have an oversupply.
The number of milk ducts that you have make this determination. That means that women with B’s can produce more than women with G’s. It’s just the luck of the draw.
Regardless of the size of your breasts, providing your baby with enough milk is always the goal.
So if you ever feel like you are having issues with a low milk supply, then try drinking more water and nursing/pumping more often. You may just not be moving the milk enough.
Breastfeeding Myth #3 – Breastfeeding Helps You Lose Weight
So, this one is a bit of both.
While breastfeeding does burn a lot of calories, giving you the potential to lose some weight, you will also be STARVING all the freaking time.
Your body doesn’t want you to lose the weight. It’s using that extra fat for your milk production. It’s holding on to it for a rainy day.
There are some ways to lose weight while breastfeeding, but it can be tricky. Typically the first thing to drop is your milk supply, not your pant size.
Eating better quality calories can help you more than dropping calories alone. Think veggies and healthy fats.
Breastfeeding Myth #4 – Shaking Breast Milk Damages the Milk
You’ll hear this a lot if you decide to pump that shaking breast milk will remove the proteins and the nutrients of the milk. Relax, Mama, this is a lie.
You would have to shake the milk with the force of a paint shaker to actually damage it. (Source)
So, whether you like your milk shaken or stirred, either way it is completely fine for your baby.
If you’re having trouble getting all of that good fat off of the sides of the bottle though, try running it under some warm water for a bit. That’ll help it release and mix back in easily.
Breastfeeding Myth #5 – Pump and Dump If You Drink
Being an exclusive pumper, I cringe at the thought of pouring my hard-earned liquid gold down the drain for any reason. Especially if that reason is a hard earned glass of wine.
Studies have shown that you are more likely to harm your child by being drunk than you are by allowing them to breastfeed after having a drink.
That doesn’t mean that you should go out and get wasted, but it does mean that having a couple of drinks is not going to be as detrimental as we believe it will.
Studies have also shown that pumping and dumping does nothing to speed up the elimination of alcohol from your breast milk.
The alcohol will be in your milk as long as it is in your blood. If you are concerned with it, then you can always pump and mix the “drunk” milk with other “sober” milk. This will help to dilute the alcohol even further.
Breastfeeding Myth #6 – Only Nursing Babies Get Antibodies
Time and time and time again I hear that since I’m not nursing that means that J isn’t getting the right antibodies. That’s bull.
Some people believe that the baby’s saliva on the mother’s nipples is what tells the body what kind of antibodies to put in the milk to keep the baby healthy. That’s a bit of a stretch.
There are no salivary glands on a woman’s nipple. Just being around your baby, snuggling, kissing, etc will let your body know if he is sick.
Breast milk is an amazing substance, and your body does an excellent job of changing your milk to suit your baby’s needs. I have seen those changes with my own eyes.
So, don’t worry. Your baby is getting exactly what he needs.
Breastfeeding Myth #7 – Your Milk Will Dry Up if You Aren’t Nursing
Nope, nope, big fat NOPE!
Exclusive pumpers all over the world know that this is a lie. I am personally going on 9 months pumping, but I know of some women that have done it for 2 or 3 years!
*Update! I exclusively pumped breast milk for my son for a full year and I even managed to store enough milk in the freezer to last him until he’s 2.
While a pump will never be as effective at getting milk out as a baby, and not emptying adequately can signal the body to stop producing milk, it is possible to pump enough milk for the entirety of your baby’s breastfeeding journey. To try to scare a mother out of pumping by telling her this is just plain WRONG!
Breastfeeding Myth #8 – You’re a Bad Mother if You don’t Breastfeed
This one just breaks my heart. Being a mom is hard, so very, very hard.
We suffer not only from sleep deprivation, recovery from child birth, and the major learning curve that is becoming a parent, but also because we are so hard on ourselves.
When people talk about mom guilt, they are not kidding. Every single thing we do, every decision we make, we second guess ourselves and wonder if we could have/should have made a different choice.
Some women can’t breastfeed, actually cannot produce breast milk at all.
Some women don’t produce enough milk for their little ones. And some women have simply chosen not to breastfeed.
Not breastfeeding does not make you a bad mother. It simply means that you made a decision on how you have decided to feed your baby.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with formula. It is amazing science milk that has saved millions of babies since it was created.
The very first thing that my baby ever ate was formula. He started his life on it and I still supplement with it daily. There is nothing wrong with that.
A formula fed baby is better than a dead baby. Besides, there is absolutely no proof out there that breastfed babies are healthier or smarter than their formula fed counterparts.
Breastfeeding Myths Don’t Help Anyone
I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of unlicensed pediatricians (aka other moms) trying to make women feel bad about how they choose to feed their children.
I don’t care how you feed your baby so long as your baby is happy, healthy, and thriving.
So if you have any of these harpies coming after you and trying to make you feel like a bad mom, just tell them to shove it where the sun doesn’t shine. You’re doing a great job Mama!
What other breastfeeding myths have you been told? Leave me a comment below or join the conversation in our Facebook group.
Until next time!