Breastfeeding is wonderful. Breastfeeding is hard.
It’s a skill unlike anything you will have learnt before. The minute it’s needed, it’s a life-giving necessity. It requires the co-operation of a partner who has no understanding of language and can’t even make a conscious body movement. And you’re expected to tackle this BEHEMOTH when you’ve just been through the trauma of birth, your body is flooded with hormones and you’re barely surviving on about 3 hours of sleep.
But breastfeeding is an invaluable investment in your child’s life (as well as having some excellent benefits for yourself).
For your infant, breastfeeding reduces the risk of things like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. For you, breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
With all this in mind, I just wanted to debunk a few breastfeeding myths that might be causing some new mummies to worry, or putting off some mummies-to-be from trying.
How you feed your baby is your choice, but don’t give up because of an untruth that is being banded around.
Debunking The Myths
Breastfed babies might feed more frequently than formula-fed ones, but that doesn’t mean they’re not getting enough of what they need. The following reasons are much more likely:
- it means they’re only taking as much as they need at each feed rather than being forced to drain the bottle
- it means they’re enjoying being close to you
- it means they’re having food which is more baby-friendly and so it doesn’t take as long for them to digest it
- it means they’re having a growth spurt so they need more nutrition
- it means they’re poorly and need your antibodies to help fight the infection
There is no point in pretending it is easy because it isn’t. My 2nd baby fed EVERY SINGLE HOUR through the first 4 nights and I was totally ready to give up, but this stage doesn’t last forever.
Ask The Experts
You would think that midwives and health visitors would be the place to go for support, but this is not always the case. They may know the theory, but you need to speak to someone who has actually breastfed. There is a whole world of difference from knowing the steps to actually getting your baby to latch correctly (take a look at my personal breastfeeding story on My Petit Canard’s #BreastfeedingStories).
The Feeding Position
Breastfeeding is almost always portrayed with the baby laying across the mother’s tummy, embraced in her arms. Even the ‘breastfeeding welcome’ symbol is as such. But you are not limited to this position and it is very much a trial-and-error process. My daughter struggled to feed on the left breast, so we adopted a rugby ball hold to do that side. It didn’t look conventional but it worked for us.
The classic sign that the baby isn’t latched correctly is pain in the nipples, right? Well not necessarily. I would certainly get a proper breastfeeding counsellor to check this one first, BUT pain isn’t always a sign of a bad latch.
I fed my first baby for 18 months, so was pretty confident that I’d know what to do when baby 2 came along, yet my nipples still became sore and cracked. Thankfully, I saw a very experienced midwife who said that, in her experience, it can take time for the nipples to get used to the pressure they’re suddenly under. And, sure enough, after 3 weeks, without altering the latch or technique, the pain stopped.
For more first-hand breastfeeding stories, I must recommend My Petit Canard’s #breastfeedingstories guest blog series. Many of the parenting bloggers I know have contributed to it (including myself) and it gives you a real insight into the good, the bad, and the ugly of breastfeeding.
To find out how a Muslin Cloth could be the answer to your public breastfeeding worries, as well as lots of other parenting tips, check out one of my most popular posts: 20 Life Hacks For Parents.