method of lizzy

preservations… for posterity

Breastfeeding Myths

As if those first few weeks of breastfeeding weren’t challenging enough, you may soon find that you are overwhelmed by conflicting information. Seven common breastfeeding myths:

You have to eat a special diet. The truth is that you could live on junk food and your baby would still get the nutrients that he needs. (Whether you would get the nutrients that you need is a different story!) There are not any foods that you need to avoid. Even the occasional soda, coffee or wine will not have an adverse affect on your milk. [1] Women all over the world have varying diets depending on their culture.  You do have to consume an adequate number of calories in order to sustain your milk production, but in the industrialized West this is not a problem that most mothers face.

Your baby needs a feeding schedule. Newborns should be nursed “on cue” as they have extremely small stomachs that will digest breastmilk in less than two hours [2]. This is in contrast to formula-fed babies who can often go longer between feedings. As your baby grows older, he will begin to space out his feedings and the two of you will find a natural rhythm to your nursing relationship. When it comes to feedings, watch your baby and not the clock.

Your frequent nursing is creating bad habits. Meeting your baby’s needs is certainly not a bad habit. As your baby matures he will begin to go longer between feedings and he will become less dependent on nursing. Frequent nursing will help establish a good milk supply in the early months.

Your baby should sleep through the night at X number of months. Wouldn’t it be great if the baby slept from 7pm – 7am? Unfortunately babies are not wired to do this, and for good reason – some speculate that SIDS is a sleep apnea that results from falling into a deep state of sleep. Breastfed babies can be particularly notorious for not sleeping through the nights, and this is again related to the fact that breastmilk digests very quickly.  Mom may find it easiest to sleep near baby.

Your baby isn’t getting enough to eat. One minute someone will tell you that you are nursing too often, and the next minute they will imply that your breastmilk is not enough to sustain your baby. It is common for new moms to be concerned over this, but diaper output is an easy way to determine if the baby is eating enough. Regular weight checks will also determine if the baby is gaining weight adequately – if not the mom may want to try block feeding in order to ensure that baby is getting enough of the fatty hindmilk. [3] Some may tell you that your baby needs “real food.”  Breastmilk supplies all the nutrition that your baby needs during his first year. During this time solid foods are just for fun and practice. [4]

Your doctor is an expert on breastfeeding. Unfortunately many obstetricians and pediatricians are not breastfeeding experts. Take their advice with a grain of salt, and always do your own research. If you need expert advice, turn to a lactation consultant (look for the IBCLC certification) or a La Leche League Leader.

You need to wean. Before you know it, people will start to ask you about your plans to wean. Weaning is a personal but sometimes controversial decision. If you nurse your baby until he is at least a year, then you won’t have to give him formula. If you continue to nurse past a year, then you will provide the baby with invaluable antibodies as well as an important bonding experience with mom.  No matter your child’s age, he can still benefit from breastmilk. [5]

[1] http://www.kellymom.com/nutrition/mom/mom-diet.html

[2] http://parenting.ivillage.com/newborn/nbreastfeed/0,,3wvp,00.html

[3] http://www.mother-2-mother.com/blockfeeding.htm

[4] http://www.kellymom.com/nutrition/solids/solids-when.html

[5] http://www.kellymom.com/bf/weaning/weaning_intro.html

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August 28, 2009 - Posted by | all things baby, motherhood |

2 Comments

  1. What a great post! I get so frustrated when people feel like they need to schedule their babies. I’ve always let my children nurse on demand and each one of them eventually fell into their own schedule. And doctors are sometimes the worst advocates for breastfeeding. With my first, the pediatrician tried his hardest to get me to put my baby on formula. But the baby had been in the NICU for two weeks, and I was determined to beat the nursing issues he had. And we did it! He nursed for over a year, but self-weaned a little bit after I got pregnant with our daughter. My daugher abruptly stopped nursing at 11 1/2 months. I thought it was a nursing strike and kept trying different methods for getting her to nurse again, but she never did. I was very sad about it for months, and then spent my pregnancy with my third children dreaming about nursing him 🙂 And he is doing great. I hope he’ll nurse a little bit longer than the other two did.

    Comment by Michelle M. | November 11, 2009

    • Scheduling really bothers me as well. I feel so bad for the little babies who are forced to follow a Babywise-type schedule. I cringed inwardly when I recently read about someone who was scheduling feeds so that she could teach her baby not to be self-indulgent.

      So glad to hear your nursing success stories 🙂

      Comment by Liz | November 11, 2009


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