Breastfeeding Myths and Truths

There are many myths or “old wives tales” about breastfeeding, so this post is going to address some of the myths.   One of the myths is that you cannot get pregnant while breastfeeding.   Working in women’s health for many years now, I have sat across many mothers who find themselves pregnant again while still nursing.  Exclusive breastfeeding may delay ovulation for some women, but it is not 100% effective in preventing pregnancy.  If you do not want to become pregnant use some additional method of birth control such as condoms.  There are other safe and effective methods of birth control that you can use while nursing. Talk to you obstetrician or healthcare provide for details.  If you become pregnant while nursing there is no need to stop nursing. You may find your milk production decreases, but if your baby is already taking other foods, it should not be a problem.

Another myth is that you will not be able to breastfeed if you have had breast surgery (such as breast augmentation or breast reduction).  Mothers who have had breast surgery can breastfeed their babies.  Milk production may be reduced and supplementation may be needed.  It may help to contact a lactation consultant to discuss the best way to successfully breastfeed after breast surgery who will be able to give you tips.  The bottom line is that size and shape of your breast is due to layers of muscle and fat; size has not effect on milk production.

Still another myth is that women with flat or inverted nipples cannot breastfeed.   Definitely not true!  Babies breastfeed on the breast, not the nipple. Although it may be easier for the baby to latch on to the breast  with a prominent nipple, it is possible to nurse your baby.  A lactation consultant can help to get you and your baby off to a good start to help you to nurse your baby.

You may have heard that you shouldn’t nurse if you’re sick, however, continuing to breastfeed while you have a cold or the flu actually helps protect your baby from illness. The germ-fighting antibodies that your body is busy making are transferred to your baby every time he/she nurses. As a result, your baby probably won’t get sick at all, or if he/she does, it will be a milder version of whatever is ailing you.

There are many more but one of the worst myths is that if you don’t nurse, you’re not being a good mom.  Although breastfeeding provides significant health benefits for your baby and you, deciding not to breastfeed–or being unable to breastfeed for whatever reason–doesn’t make you an unfit mother. Feed your baby a formula that you feel good about, and move on. With your love and care, your child will thrive whether she/he dines on breast milk, formula, or some combination of the two.

Many hospitals have lactation nurses or consultants to help with getting you off to a good start so ask for help.  The March of Dimes offers a few videos and additional information to help with feeding your baby.

 

 

 

 

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