By: Renee Bowling RN, Certified Breastfeeding Educator
Nursing a baby can be one of the greatest experiences a mother can have, but can also be one of the hardest jobs she might undertake. Many of the following myths surround breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is painful:
Breastfeeding should never be painful. Yes, you will be sore for the first 7-10 days, but PAIN is never normal. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is not right. The soreness in the beginning is due to hormonal changes and “repetitive motion disorder”. You do not have to wait till your nipples toughen up and build calluses like so many people say. Your nipple tissue is made to breastfeed and the shape of your nipple should look just the same after nursing as before. Nipple pain is generally attributed to a poor latch, but other factors like the baby’s mouth, tongue, palate and suck could also contribute to nipple pain. If you are experiencing more than just soreness, then seek professional assistance as soon as possible. We don’t want those painful nipples to become cracked and bleeding nipples and early help is critical. Nipple trauma and pain is NOT normal!
Using a breast pump is painful:
There should never be any pain associated with pumping. If you are having pain while pumping, then be sure the breast shields you are using with the pump fit properly and the suction on the pump is not too high.
Pumping is a good way to measure milk production:
A good efficient baby on the breast will always be better than a pump at getting the milk out. Pumping is a learned body relaxation technique. Some mom’s may not be able to get a good letdown with the pump that they would be able to get with the baby. Some pumps, especially the ones that the insurance companies are giving out for free, may not be that effective in milk removal. An evaluation on how the baby is doing on the breast and how much the baby transfers is always a better indication of milk supply than just pumping.
Breastfeeding causes weight loss:
While it is true that nursing burns a lot of calories, it is still how many calories the mom consumes and her level of activity that will help with weight loss. But those calories burned while nursing do add up! It is recommended that breastfeeding mom’s need an extra 500 calories in 24 hours. I do not recommend dieting because mom needs those calories for energy when getting up to feed a baby around the clock.
Breast size determines whether or not you will make enough milk for your baby:
Breast size is determined by fat tissue. Basically larger breasts have the more fat tissue. It is the glandular tissue in the breasts where the milk is made. Moms actually grow more glandular tissue with each pregnancy and nursing experience. So, small vs. large breasts does not matter in terms of milk production.
Breastfeeding causes restrictions on what mom can eat:
A breastfeeding mom needs a well-rounded, healthy diet. There are no restrictions on what mom can eat as long as there is not a strong food allergy in the immediate family. If so, then mom should avoid that food while nursing. So eat all the spicy foods, beans, onions etc… that you desire. All babies are gassy because the digestive tract is maturing, but a baby having prolonged periods of inconsolable painful crying is not normal. If mom thinks it is something she is eating, then she should keep a food diary and eliminate for 2-3 weeks the ONE food she thinks may be causing an issue, and then reintroduce that food again and see what happens.
Women who have had breast surgery or nipple piercings cannot nurse:
Women, who have had breast surgery, whether it is augmentation surgery where implants are placed, breast reduction surgery or nipple piercings can all nurse a baby. Generally breast implants and nipple piercings do not cause any issue with nursing or milk production. Women, who have had breast reduction surgery, need to be closely followed for adequate milk production and normal infant growth. They may be able to produce a full milk supply, or they may not, so close monitoring is required.
Find out more about Motherhood Center’s lactation consultants, breast pump rentals and breast feeding support, click here: Breastfeeding Support