We all know that breast milk is good for babies. We know that it has wonderful antibodies that can help prevent babies from getting sick. We know that it can be cheaper than buying formula and we know that breastfeeding is what breasts were designed for!
But that doesn’t mean that breastfeeding is the right choice for every mom or family. There are many reasons why breastfeeding may not be for you. And fortunately, we live in a time where formula is a safe and relatively healthy option for moms and their babies.
It is important to remember that you are your baby’s mother and you will always know what is best for your baby. Be it breastmilk or formula, your baby will likely grow up to be happy and healthy.
Here are 12 Common Myths About Breastfeeding
1. It’s Easy.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always true. Breastfeeding can be uncomfortable, messy, time consuming and emotionally draining, especially in the first few days. Fortunately, if you can get through all of that, it does become easier. You and your baby learn to work together. You can breastfeed almost anywhere at any time. Breastfeeding not only offers nutrition to your baby but also comfort when they are hurting or cranky.
2. All Good Moms Breastfeed Their Babies
Sorry, wrong! There are plenty of good moms who formula feed their babies. For some, formula feeding is more economical, fits better in their work schedule, is more socially acceptable, or even culturally preferred. Some mothers take medications that are not safe, or unstudied in breastfeeding. Some mothers work a rigorous work schedule where breastfeeding is not conducive. Some mothers don’t feel comfortable using their breasts to feed their baby, especially in public. Some moms need the added help and convenience of allowing others to feed her baby. And some mothers wanted to breastfeed but roadblocks have gotten in their way, and made this difficult or impossible. Whatever the reason, it is important to remember that each mother knows what is best for her baby and her family. And for her, formula feeding is best.
3. Breastmilk Has all That Your Baby Ever Needs
While this is mostly true, there are some things that breastmilk may be missing. Since our lifestyles are no longer hunter/gatherer ways of surviving, we are spending less and less time outdoors, especially with our newborns. This results in less Vitamin D for our babies. And since Vitamin D is poorly transmitted in breastmilk, it is recommended that breastfed babies be supplemented with Vitamin D.
There is growing research that DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and Omega-3 fatty acid, may be beneficial for baby’s developing brain as well. And unless a breastfeeding mom’s diet includes adequate amounts of this nutrient, she may not be passing enough on to her baby. Fortunately, there are foods that have this in it as well as supplements that can be taken by the mother as well as the baby.
If you are formula feeding, most formulas have recommended amounts of both of these already in them.
4. Your Pregnancy Weight Just Melts Off When You Breastfeed
While for some, this is true, for others not so much! Breastfeeding does require extra calories above and beyond those needed during pregnancy. We estimate that a breastfeeding mother will need about 500 extra calories per day while pregnancy requires only about 300 extra calories per day.
And while this may seem like a lot, many women will continue to eat the same diet or even increase their dietary intake following the delivery of their baby. This will unlikely lead to weight loss unless accompanied by exercise.
The same rule always applies: Calories In < Calories Burned in order to = Weight Loss.
5. Breastfeeding Makes Every Mom Feel Good
Unfortunately, no. Some mothers have pain with breastfeeding (beyond the first few days or weeks), some have emotional misgivings about breastfeeding, especially those who may have a history of physical or sexual abuse, and some simply try it and don’t like how it makes them feel.
While many moms have an overwhelming sense of love and bonding with their baby while breastfeeding (thanks to oxytocin-“the love hormone”) some moms don’t. And it doesn’t mean that you are a bad mom, or that you don’t love your baby. It just may not be for you.
6. Dads (or partners) Can’t Help When Moms Choose to Breastfeed
As much as dads would like to think that breastfeeding gets them off the hook at 2am, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Breastfeeding moms still need help with diaper changes, cleaning pumping supplies, rocking babies back to sleep and refilling mom’s water bottle.
Some breastfeeding moms may also be pumping. If this is the case, partners can feed baby pumped breastmilk with a bottle while moms pump.
Both moms who are breastfeeding and moms who are bottle feeding need a lot of support and help regardless of how the baby is fed. Especially if moms are getting up alone with the baby during the night.
7. If My Mom or Sister Couldn’t Breastfeed, I Probably Won’t be Able to Either
Reasons breastfeeding is unsuccessful may be genetic, but more often than not it has some other cause. If a mom is interested in breastfeeding, then she should be encouraged to start with additional pumping if baby has trouble and coordinating closely with Lactation Consultant to try to establish a good milk supply within the first few days.
8. It Doesn’t Hurt if You are Doing it Right
Unfortunately, for many moms, breastfeeding is uncomfortable, usually only during the first few days or weeks. A good latch will often be more comfortable, but considering that most mother’s breasts and nipples have not had anything on them every 2-3 hours every day, all day, it is expected that there will be some initial discomfort. And that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re “doing it wrong.”
9. I Should Give my Baby Formula Until Day 3 or 4, Until my Milk Comes in
While some cultures believe that colostrum (the initial milk that provides baby with sustenance the first few days) is not enough for baby during those first few days of life, studies show that it is proportionate to the very small size of baby’s stomach. It also helps baby to establish the gut bacteria that we all have and need to help absorb nutrients.
10. I Have Small Breasts, I Probably Won’t be Able to Breastfeed
We know that the size of the breast has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of size of the milk ducts that will produce milk in breastfeeding mother. If a woman wants to breastfeed, the size of her breasts should not deter her, either big or small.
11. I Have Big Breasts, Breastfeeding Should be a Piece of Cake
Same rule applies as above. In this case, size doesn’t matter!
12. I’ll Never be Able to Afford a Breast Pump
Fortunately, changes in insurance requirements have lead to insurance companies being required to cover breast pumps. Breast pumps are also covered for those who are without insurance with federally funded programs. If breastfeeding is your plan and pumping may be necessary, a breast pump is affordable for everyone.