With the arrival of a chubby-cheeked bundle, your boobs will likely become the centre of attention. After all, feeding is a newborn’s top priority, matched only by sleeping. And when every baby feeds differently, it’s no surprise that breastfeeding myths are born. Though many have some truth in them, most should be taken with at least a pinch of salt – they’re often not the whole story! That’s where we’re here to help.
We don’t want the multitude of breastfeeding misconceptions to leave both new and experienced mums wondering what to believe. So, we’ve debunked 10 of the most common breastfeeding myths. That way you can worry less about old wives’ tales and feel more confident when looking after your precious addition.
1. breastfeeding is painful
When it comes to breastfeeding myths, this is possibly the most common and something that many mums worry about. But you needn’t. While your nipples might feel tender as they adjust to their new role, breastfeeding your baby shouldn’t be painful. If you are in pain, it could be that your little one isn’t latched on properly. The good news is that a bit of adjustment to find the right position and a little practice can make all the difference.
The best guide for whether baby is attached correctly is the disappearance of your nipple and most of the areola around it. With your nipple towards the roof of their mouth, they should be able to suckle and get all the milk they need. Just remember to always bring baby to your breast rather than leaning forward to them as this helps with both their latch and your comfortableness.
2. not enough milk? drink more milk
For many mums, “not enough milk” can be a very real concern. This can lead them to try different methods of increasing their supply, including drinking more milk. However, that’s just another of these breastfeeding myths. While keeping hydrated is important, drinking more than recommended won’t boost your own supply.
In reality, your milk production is based on supply and demand. That means that the more you feed, the more you produce until your body finds the right balance for your baby. If you’re still worried that you’re not producing enough milk though, there’s an easy way to check – nappies! Along with steady weight gain, regular wet and dirty nappies are a sure sign that your little one is getting plenty of the good stuff.
3. you can’t get pregnant while you’re breastfeeding
This is easily in the top five breastfeeding myths that should be taken with a pinch of salt. There is some truth in it, breastfeeding can be used as a natural form of birth control as it releases hormones that suppress ovulation, but it’s certainly not foolproof. Its effectiveness can easily be affected, resulting in a surprise pregnancy. So instead of trusting breastfeeding myths, it’s better to be safe than sorry and rely on postnatal contraception.
4. babies can easily swap between breast and bottle
It may sound simple, swapping from nipple to teat, but that’s why it features in our list of breastfeeding myths. It’s not so straightforward. As your supply is driven by how often and how much your baby feeds, swapping between breast and bottle feeding can affect how much milk you produce. Some mums find they need to use a bottle though, either for medical reasons or returning to work. The important thing if still breastfeeding is to establish your supply first before you introduce a bottle after about 6 weeks.
5. breastfed babies don’t need to be burped
This is another one of those breastfeeding myths which is based in fact but isn’t the whole story. It’s true that breastfed babies are less likely to need burping than bottle-fed babes as they tend to swallow less air as they suckle. However, they can still experience trapped wind, especially if your milk flows quickly or your little one feeds at speed. If you’re in any doubt, burping your baby won’t hurt and could help keep them smiling.
6. breastfeeding is an easy way to lose weight
It only takes a little reading to realise why number six on our list of breastfeeding myths could be deceiving. Mums who breastfeed need around 300-500 extra calories per day so cutting them out means easy weight loss, right? Unfortunately not, and trying to lose weight quickly could affect your milk supply. As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. That means easing into postnatal exercises and losing no more than one pound per week.
7. formula is just as good as breastmilk
This is one of the more sensitive breastfeeding myths, but a myth nonetheless. While formula has definitely come a long way in recent years, so has our understanding of breast milk. Filled with hundreds of essential and beneficial ingredients, it’s tailor-made for your bundle as they grow so it’s as unique as they are. Plus, it’s free! However, if you can’t provide breastmilk for your baby, formula is the next best thing.
8. breastfeeding mums can’t drink alcohol
Unlike when you’re expecting and alcohol is a no-go, having a tipple or two while breastfeeding won’t affect your baby. That being said, it’s important to only drink in moderation – perhaps a small glass of wine with dinner once or twice a week. If you do drink, the best time to do so is when you’ve just finished breastfeeding your little one. This gives the alcohol time to disperse in your bloodstream before your next feed.
While on the topic of alcohol-related breastfeeding myths, there’s no evidence to suggest that Guinness will increase your milk supply. That’s primarily down to how you feed your growing bundle. Plus, for all its iron-touting goodness, a pint has less than 2% of your recommended daily intake. That’s about the same as a glass of red!
9. you shouldn’t breastfeed when you’re sick
As breastfeeding myths go, you can see the logic in this one. However, by the time you feel unwell, your little one has probably already been exposed. If you put a pause on breastfeeding, you could impact your milk supply and baby won’t get the antibodies your body is making which help keep them healthy. If you need to take medication, rest assured that most are safe for breastfeeding mums but it’s always worth checking with your doctor first.
10. breastfeeding gives you sagging breasts
The last item on our list of breastfeeding myths is all about boobs – saggy boobs for that matter! Quite simply, there is no research to say that breastfeeding causes your boobs to droop. That’s merely down to pregnancy itself which often causes your breasts to swell and stretch. However, hope is not lost! As many mums can attest, a comfortable maternity bra will soon become your breast friend (pardon the pun) and can help reduce the sag as well as boosting your confidence as you adjust to your changing body.
Once your growing curves are properly supported and feeling comfy, hopefully everything else will feel a little easier too. Plus, now we’ve dispelled all those breastfeeding myths, you can nurture your new addition with less to worry about. After all, they’ll grow up so fast; why not enjoy the early days before they toddle into trouble!