An inflow of information and advice from well-meaning friends, family, doctors, and books often overwhelms new parents and creates misconceptions and unnecessary anxiety, especially when it comes to breastfeeding. As you settle into being a parent and getting to know your baby make sure you know, and avoid these 7 breastfeeding myths.
1. You should use both breasts every time you nurse your baby.
You have two of them, so you’re supposed to use them both, right? While that might seem to create a good balance, feeding your baby off of both breasts at each feeding might not be necessary – using just one is okay! The most important thing is that your baby is full so pay attention to his or her habits and needs.
2. You need to follow a breastfeeding schedule.
Although experts say your baby should be nursing 8 to 12 times a day for the first month, you shouldn’t have to force a schedule – just follow your baby’s cues. Your little one will let you know when he or she is hungry. As babies get bigger, they’ll eat less often and develop their own schedule over time.
3. Spacing out feedings will give your breasts more time to refill.
Some new moms think allowing more time before feedings will allow their breastmilk to refill but the truth is your body knows what it’s doing and you don’t have to put so much thought into it. After your baby feeds, your body reproduces more milk naturally. You don’t have to “wait.”
4. If you are taking medication, you shouldn’t breastfeed.
Although you should always consult with your doctor first, according to the International Breastfeeding Centre, most medications don’t affect breastmilk. However, you should be careful about topical medication and common beauty and skin care creams that can seep into your bloodstream, like retinoids, petroleum, and salicylic acids in high concentration.
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5. You can’t tell whether or not your baby is getting enough milk.
Unlike formula, you can’t measure how much breastmilk your baby is getting, but there are many signs that show whether or not your LO is getting enough. According to the Baby Center, once you give birth after pregnancy week by week your baby should gain weight, seem satisfied after feeding and have regular bowel movements. If that’s the case, they’re getting enough milk.
6. To enhance breast milk you should follow a certain diet.
Even malnourished mothers can breastfeed, so you don’t need to make many dietary changes to ensure your baby gets enough nutrition. However, the Mayo Clinic says breastfeeding women should eat about 400 or 500 more calories a day than their pre-pregnancy diet and limit alcohol intake and wait for it to leave the milk before feeding if they do have a glass. Many moms also say their skin quality suffers after giving birth, so make sure to eat healthy foods like lean protein, healthy whole grains, and fruits and vegetables it will also improve your dull complexion.
7. Breastfeeding changes breast shape.
Pregnancy causes a lot of changes in your body, so your breasts will automatically grow and fill with milk in preparation for your LO. When your breasts grow, they stretch, which can cause marks or sagging later on, regardless of whether or not you choose to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding provides important nutrients and antibodies to newborns while helping develop an important bond between mother and child. There are a lot of myths, but when it comes down to it, breastfeeding should be a natural, relaxing, bonding experience. Put worry aside and enjoy the quality time with your LO.
Evlin Symon is a freelance health writer from New Jersey. She enjoys learning about a wide variety of wellness issues and staying up-to-date on the latest research. She also is the author of many active blogs.