Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Has anyone gave you information that influenced how successful you were at breastfeeding?  Many times, people have good intentions to help but it ends up interfering and can really discourage further attempts to fulfill your breastfeeding goals.   It is crucial to expose the truth behind common breastfeeding misconceptions to give you the best chance at succeeding. Here are 15 obstacles you want to know about so you don't fall into a booby trap!
1. "If you don't leak during pregnancy, you won't have enough milk."
Pregnant women do not all experience the same symptoms.  Every pregnancy is different.  Some women may notice leaking as early as the first trimester, some may not notice anything until after breastfeeding is well established.  Either way, it's "normal," and there's no reason to worry if you deal with no leakage or a lot.
2.  "What about those formula freebies sent from gift registries, as well as from some hospitals? Isn't it a good idea to have a can of formula as a back-up?"
Let's examine this "back-up" idea... who thinks that you won't be successful at breastfeeding?  Obviously, the formula companies probably don't (or they just don't care because they just want to sell their product) but now you have the hospital, stores you've registered at, and maybe even family and friends convincing you that you're not going to be good enough.
You have better odds at not falling into this booby trap if you birth at a Baby-Friendly hospital.  Research has shown that Baby-Friendly hospitals improve your chances at breastfeeding with their implementation of 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.
There are good reasons for supplementation that can arise, however, the first option should be species-specific milk.  Using bottles can alter your success at breastfeeding, so before doing so it is best to speak to an IBCLC.  There are many options and an IBCLC will help you find what's best for you. You can use this site to search for one in your area. 
3.  Birth Obstacles- Induction can have a HUGE impact on breastfeeding.
Induction has plenty of risks, and should only be used  when absolutely medically necessary. An explanation to this is that induction medications, such as pitocin, will cause a delay in milk production.  Having an induction causes stronger contractions, which can influence the mother to seek out pain medications.  Pain medications for labor can cause some breastfeeding difficulties. Medications to alleviate pain while birthing, especially an epidural, are known to cross the blood/brain barrier, meaning it goes into the placenta.  Because of this, suck coordination may prove difficult, as well as excessive sleepiness in the newborn.  
4.  Breastfeeding rates have been shown to be lower with those who have C-sections (source HERE).
This most likely is because after a cesarean, a mother requires more time to close up her wounds and this time frame is the golden opportunity for a baby to have skin to skin and begin nursing.  You can read more about how a cesarean can affect a baby HERE.
5.  The connection between circumcision and issues with breastfeeding have been documented in several studies.
"Circumcision is a painful procedure that disrupts the course of behavioral recovery following birth" (source HERE) and "Newborn circumcisions are a significant source of pain during the procedure and are associated with irritability and feeding disturbances during the days afterward" (source HERE). If you're considering having your baby circumcised, you should know that this procedure is elective and often performed for non-medical, societal norms.  To learn more about circumcision, here's where I've found the most helpful information- www.savingoursons.org or www.thewholenetwork.org
6. Too many visitors after birth can be overwhelming and interfere with breastfeeding sessions as well as your time getting to know the new little special one in your life.
Nurses, doctors, lactation consultants, social workers, your family and friends all want to ensure that your baby is doing well and offer their support, but limiting visitors can eliminate distractions and help you gain that important bonding time.
7.  The lack of knowledgeable professionals limits our access to breastfeeding support.
Our medical community is failing breastfeeding moms, "Deficiencies in breastfeeding management are seen in pediatricians, obstetricians, family practitioners, clinic nurses and public health nurses, pediatric nurse practitioners, hospital staff nurses, neonatal intensive care nurses, and WIC personnel" (source HERE pdf).   Visiting with an IBCLC is your best bet at getting the help you need when breastfeeding problems arise (read USCLA's IBCLC: The Documented Difference pdf). You can look HERE to find a lactation consultant near you.
8.  "It's normal for breastfeeding to hurt."
This is a myth!  Although it can be quite tender and take up to a couple weeks to get used to the new sensation of having a baby latched on, if you feel that your pain is not improving throughout this time, it's important to find out the underlying issue.  Kellymom has great tips on sore nipples HERE.
9.  Other boob complaints- too small, too big, inverted nipples, implants, reduction surgery, nipple piercings, etc.
If you have heard these things can impact breastfeeding, you'll be happy to know that usually none of them are a concern.  Check out Kellymom's "Can I Breastfeed If..." HERE and Breastfeeding After Breast and Nipple Surgeries HERE.
10.  "My baby lost too much weight so I have to supplement."
Moms rely on their babies gaining weight to feel sufficient with their breastfeeding efforts.  Dr. Jay Gordon has an article called, "Look at the Baby, Not the Scale" illustrating the following questions to address when you've been told baby isn't gaining well.
Up to 10% weight loss is considered NORMAL for breastfed babies (source HERE)!  Confirm your child was weighed on the same exact scale, wearing the same amount of clothing (naked is most preferred), with weights taken from the lowest weight and ensure your doctor is only using the WHO growth chart.  My youngest daughter was unable to efficiently transfer milk due to her inability to suckle properly (I wrote about that HERE).  Breastfeeding works all the oral muscles and if something is misaligned, that's a very rational reason where supplementation may be necessary.  When mother cannot feed directly from her breast, expressed milk is the next best option.
11.  "You need to supplement with formula until your milk comes in."
Absolutely untrue.  The first milk that your body creates is called colostrum.  It is the perfect food for baby, it contains a high concentration of immune system- activating substances like white blood cells, antibodies and nutrients to nourish and protect baby.  You may not see anything coming out for 2-3 days or so of constant nursing, but baby has a very small stomach capacity and the amount is just what baby needs.  Most women don't notice that their milk has come in til around day 4 after birth and some don't notice for a week or longer.  Frequent nursing, 10-12 times in 24 hours is a sure way to establish a healthy milk supply.  If you're not nursing or pumping this often, you're essentially telling your body not to make milk.  Let your baby comfort feed, keep baby close, have a lactation consultant in mind to contact if you experience further difficulties and read more tips on How to Get Your Milk Supply Off to a Good Start by La Leche League.
12.  Baby is always hungry... I feel like a human pacifier... I don't make enough milk to satisfy my baby... 
Babies just like to suckle.  They'll suck on almost anything, whether hungry or not, it's a developmental reflex that doesn't typically go away until several months of age, however many children still desire this source of comfort up to preschool age.  This does not always mean they're hungry, and certainly doesn't mean you don't make enough milk.
I love this article from birth.com explaining comfort sucking.
13.  "I don't get anything out when I pump, I don't have any milk!"
"It cannot be stressed enough that the amount of milk you able to pump is NOT ever a reliable indicator of how much milk you are producing, nor how much milk baby is taking in. The healthy breastfed baby is usually much more efficient at getting milk from the breast than a pump is." -What to Expect When Pumping on Kellymom. I never responded well to a pump, and I tried my hardest. The most I ever got from one breast was around 5 ounces, and this happened twice in my 19 months of exclusively pumping.  I usually only got around 2 ounces per pump session.
14. Insufficient workplace accomodations contribute to lower breastfeeding rates.
Moms who work outside the home may think they can't continue to breastfeed when they go back to work, but it's definitely possible! According to the amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act in 2010, Break Time for Nursing Mothers has been federally implemented to protect lactating employees. "Employers are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.” Employers are also required to provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” -United States Department of Labor
Here's a helpful resource for pumping at work- www.workandpump.com
15.  "I was told I can't breastfeed and take medication," smokers can't breastfeed and pump and dump myths about alcohol...
Like I said earlier, doctors often have limited knowledge on lactation so they may just tell you to stop nursing while on a medication because they honestly have no idea about it beyond what is in the drug manufacturer's inserts.  This doesn't help at all.  If you have to take any medication, the best way to know it's safety is by checking the Drugs and Lactation Database LACTMED (also available as an app for your android or apple device) or by getting in touch with your lactation consultant.
As for smoking, nicotine does come through your milk, so if you can quit, you should.  If you can't quit, cut down. Breastfeeding provides your child with the extra immune boosters that are even more beneficial (compared to formula) when exposed to nicotine.
Here's the best advice out there about alcohol consumption and breastfeeding:
If you are safe to drive, you're safe to nurse. Kellymom says, "Less than 2% of the alcohol consumed by the mother reaches her blood and milk." You do not need to pump and dump, alcohol is eliminated from your breastmilk just the same as your blood alcohol levels.

  I have more to come, there's just too many to put in one post!  This is sad that we have to deal with so many misconceptions.  I hope that this list has helped you find some answers to things that may have caused you to doubt yourself.  My number one motto is to always believe in yourself and to remember every baby benefits from every drop of breastmilk!

3 comments:

  1. This is a great article. I've heard many of these things and I don't believe any of it! I'm due with my first any day now and although I'm a little nervous about breastfeeding not going perfectly, I have a great support group and know if I stick with it I can breastfeed my lil one as long as we want.

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  2. I had my son circumcised and he has always been an excellent nurser. He's still breastfeeding at age 17 months. :) And on the moral debate of circumcision, I would have never been allowed to skip that procedure due to my husband's personal opinion, even if I had wanted to. Luckily, it is an optional procedure and parents can choose as they wish.

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