Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC RLC
It can be frustrating for parents when they get conflicting breastfeeding advice from nurses, doctors, family members, friends and….shriek! Yes, even lactation consultants! With so much information swarming around the internet, it can be difficult to navigate through it all and get to the hard core truth. We’re here to help! Read on as we bust through a few of the most common breastfeeding myths!
#1 Breastfeeding Hurts!
Let’s be real. Your nipples are not used to being stretched, yanked and pulled 24/7, especially if this is your first rodeo. Soreness is normal in the beginning but pain, bleeding, scabbing though common is not normal. Good news is that tender skin on your nipple and areola is intended to be stretched. Soreness should subside within the early postpartum weeks. Work with a skilled IBCLC, to assess baby’s oral function and latch – which typically are the main causes of pain. Monitor baby’s soiled diapers every day. Your newborn baby should have at least 6-8 wet diapers and 3-4 stools every day (stool should be the size of a quarter or more). Check flange sizing if you’re pumping! Lubricating the inside of the flange with a drop of olive oil can help with discomfort and create a better seal. Lowering vacuum suction too! Don’t push through the pain, get support! Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt.
#2 I’m breastfeeding, I can’t eat dairy.
Not true! There’s no “breastfeeding diet” and no foods that are contraindicated while breastfeeding and this includes dairy. And though cow’s milk protein allergy is the most common allergy in babies it’s not as common as families have been led to believe. Most fussiness in newborns is normal behavior and not related to diet at all. Some telltale signs your baby might have an allergy to cow’s protein can be inconsolable crying for long periods of time, rashes, stuffy nose, blood, mucus, or froth in the stool, just to name a few. Connect with your pediatrician if you suspect your baby may have an allergy. If you do need to remove dairy from your diet simply avoiding the obvious culprits (milk, cheese, etc.) may be enough and your baby may still be able to tolerate small amounts. It can take up to 21 days to completely eliminate traces in your body. Allergies are almost always temporary and your baby’s gut will adapt and mature as they get older. Unless you, yourself are allergic to dairy, there’s no reason to avoid it.
#3 Breastfeeding only has benefits for the first 6 months.
All breastfeeding experts recommend breastfeeding for the first 6 months but WAIT! It doesn’t stop there. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for the first two years or longer, until mother and baby desire. The benefits of breastfeeding continue way past baby’s first birthday! Breastmilk continues to provide immunological properties and it actually increases in concentration in the second year. Breast milk provides treatment and prevention of many childhood diseases. In addition, breastfeeding provides major mental and social development for your growing child, with research linking breastfeeding past infancy to a more independent child later on. Breastfeeding past the one year mark is developmentally normal and your breastmilk continues to have benefits for your growing toddler.
#4 Most moms don’t make enough breastmilk for their babies.
If you are exclusively nursing at the breast you won’t ever know exactly how much milk you are making. Your baby’s diaper output and weight gain will be your gauge. If you are pumping, it’s never really an indicator of your supply; it really just tells us how much milk you can pump. So what do we know? On average a baby that is 1-6 months old will intake on average 25 oz per day which is about 2-3 ounces of breastmilk every 2-3 hours. This is how much milk should be produced to keep up with your baby’s intake. Truth is most mothers can make enough milk for their babies when off to the right start. This includes breastfeeding within the first hour, rooming in and supportive lactation assistance. There are some reasons moms won’t make enough milk. These include pre existing hormonal conditions like PCOS, thyroid dysfunction; and diabetes can be culprits. As well as breast surgeries or trauma to the breast can also affect how much milk a mother can make for her baby. But we never truly know how much milk will be made until baby is here! Every mother and baby dyad is different.
#5 I can’t breastfeed if I’m sick.
Not only is it OK to breastfeed if you’re sick, but it’s encouraged! Whether it be a stomach bug, cough and cold, or the flu your breastmilk will contain antibodies to protect your baby from getting sick. Especially now, during the global pandemic, breastfeeding while sick is even more critical to protect babies from contracting Covid19. Mothers with Covid19 should be encouraged to nurse their babies directly at the breast with a face covering (if possible) or if too sick to nurse, pump their milk and have a well person bottle feed breast milk. Rebecca Powell, a human milk immunologist at New York’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has discovered 80% of Covid19 survivors tested had coronavirus antibodies in their breastmilk. These discoveries are not only proof breastmilk keeps babies healthy but in addition may provide insight to future treatments in combating the coronavirus.
We hope this blog post helped boost your confidence, bring awareness and increase your breastfeeding knowledge. Be vigilant and watch out for booby traps! Are you wondering if the advice you heard is true or a myth? Our Spectra baby USA lactation consultants are ready to provide evidence based information so that you can make the best decision for the health of your family. Email us at IBCLC@spectrababyusa.com or schedule a Spectra baby USA complimentary consultation with us today!
Congratulations on your breastfeeding journey!
Daniel Munblit, Michael R. Perkin, Debra J. Palmer, Katie J. Allen, Robert J. Boyle. Assessment of Evidence About Common Infant Symptoms and Cow’s Milk Allergy. JAMA Pediatrics, 2020; DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.0153
Duazo, P., Avila, J., & Kuzawa, C. W. (2010). Breastfeeding and later psychosocial development in the Philippines. American journal of human biology : the official journal of the Human Biology Council, 22(6), 725–730. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajhb.21073
Cregan MD, Mitoulas LR, Hartmann PE. Milk prolactin, feed volume and duration between feeds in women breastfeeding their full-term infants over a 24 h period. Exp Physiol. 2002 Mar;87(2):207-14.
Alisa Fox, Jessica Marino, Fatima Amanat, Florian Krammer, Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook, Susan Zolla-Pazner, Rebecca L Powell. Evidence of a significant secretory-IgA-dominant SARS-CoV-2 immune response in human milk following recovery from COVID-19; medRxiv 2020.05.04.20089995; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.04.20089995