We’ve all heard the phrase “breast is best” but that doesn’t make the choice of whether or not to breastfeed any easier, especially not with the huge amount of stigma and misinformation floating around. We hear your breastfeeding questions all the time, and so we have decided to put together this list of myths and facts for you to refer to whenever you need it.
- “Every woman automatically knows how to breastfeed”: MYTH. Most hospitals or labor centers have a lactation consultant on hand to help new mothers with this. They can be incredibly helpful, especially for first time mothers or mothers who are trying to breast feed for the first time. A lactation consultant can help explain different ways to hold your baby for feeding, how to encourage latching and how to properly remove the baby from the breast, what kinds of let-down to expect, etc. If you have any questions at all, we strongly suggest a visit with the lactation consultant if your birthing facility provides one.
- “New moms don’t make enough milk”: MYTH. While it is true that most women don’t produce milk for three to five days after giving birth, they do produce a thicker more nutrient-rich liquid called colostrums. For the first few days, this is all your baby needs. Supplementing with formula at this early stage can discourage the baby from suckling, which will slow moms production of milk.
- “Breastfeeding is better for baby”: MYTH. Not every new parent is able to breastfeed or decides that breastfeeding is the best option for their family. The only clear advantage that studies have been able to find in breastfeeding over formula feeding is the transfer of antibodies. There is no evidence that breastfeeding benefits intelligence, weight, growth, etc.
- “Breastfeeding helps you bounce back”: FACT. Breastfeeding can have several benefits for a new mother. According to a 2012 study published in The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, women who breastfeed are less likely to be diagnosed with post-partum depression in the first four months after delivery than women who bottle-feed. While the connection hasn’t been definitively proven, most researchers and professionals agree that the hormone oxytocin probably contributes to the lower diagnosis frequency. Oxytocin is a hormone that helps mother and baby bond (it’s sometimes called a “feel-good hormone”) and it is released during nursing.
Also, breastfeeding can help you shed weight gained during the pregnancy and reduce the size of your post-pregnancy belly. Breastfeeding mothers burn between 300 – 500 more calories per day on average than mothers who don’t breastfeed. Breastfeeding also encourages the uterus to contract down to its original size faster.
- “Breastfeeding can cause sagging breasts”: MYTH. It’s not uncommon for us to hear women or womens friends and family members say that breastfeeding will make the breasts saggy. However, studies have been being done for decades now and no connection has been found between breastfeeding and breast sagging. There is, however , a connection between sagging and the number of pregnancies a woman experiences.