Having a baby is life-changing. It turns your whole world upside down and inside out, and no matter how prepared you think you may be, it still comes as a shock. As a parent, you wonder how the hospital can allow you to go home with this small person to care for, feed, clothe and bathe with no manual! To make matters worse, your mother, your friends, your doctor, and the midwives inevitably give you at least seven different sets of conflicting advice. It is little wonder that there are so many misconceptions out there around breastfeeding.
Before I get into the most common myths, a quick disclaimer: there are many reasons why women use baby formula. Some of these reasons include mental health, needing to return to work, troubles with recurring mastitis, and sheer exhaustion, to name a few. Ultimately, every woman must make the choice that is right for her and her family. Here are five of the most common breastfeeding myths busted:
I Am Not Making Enough Milk For My Baby!
Inadequate milk supply is cited as the most common reason for new mothers to stop breastfeeding. Women often worry that their baby is getting enough to eat because they are feeding “too much,” they are not feeding for very long, their breasts are small, or their baby suddenly wants to feed more regularly. It is rare for women to produce insufficient milk. If this occurs, then supply can often be boosted through regular feeding, expressing after the baby feeds, and checking the baby’s attachment.
My Baby is Waking Through the Night Because I Am Not Feeding Them Enough
Having a baby who sleeps through the night is seen as the holy grail for new parents. When you are weak with exhaustion from getting up to your newborn every few hours, the thought of a full night of uninterrupted sleep is like seeing a mirage in the desert. It is crucial to remember that it is entirely normal for a baby to wake frequently through the night for milk or comfort. Your child will sleep when they are developmentally ready, which could be anywhere between six weeks and six months old.
You Can’t Become Pregnant When You Are Breastfeeding
This old wives’ tale has led to many “Irish twins,” or babies born within 12 months of each other. While your chance of falling pregnant is generally lower if you are feeding every few hours, if you aren’t ready for another little bundle of joy, then you need to talk to your doctor about contraception.
Exercise Will Make Your Milk Taste Sour
Exercise is terrific for your physical and mental health and has no impact on the taste of your milk. As soon as you feel ready post-birth and your doctor gives you the go-ahead, you can get back out there and start exercising.
Breastfeeding is Meant to be Easy
Because our body was designed to create, birth, and feed a baby, perhaps the biggest misconception about breastfeeding is that it should come naturally. The reality is that many women find it hard at first. You are still figuring out what to do, and your baby is still figuring out what to do. You are sleep deprived, your body is recovering from a mammoth effort, and your baby can’t talk to you to tell you what he or she needs. The truth is that breastfeeding takes practice.
So beautiful mommas, give yourself some time and space, and above all, be kind to yourself. You and your baby will work it out together.