Breastfeeding, although natural, is also a learned skill and can take some time to get the hang of.
Since breastfeeding doesn’t just fall into place for many women, support is very important as mothers weave their way through the early challenges of breastfeeding.
As if facing early breastfeeding challenges isn’t enough, many mothers also have to contend with the multitude of breastfeeding misconceptions that still exist. These misconceptions can make breastfeeding seem unduly tough or inconvenient.
7 Things Breastfeeding Women Are Told They Should (Or Shouldn’t) Do
So, if you are breastfeeding, be sure to seek answers to your questions from reputable sources such as International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, the Australian Breastfeeding Association or La Leche League.
Here are 7 things breastfeeding women are told they should or shouldn’t do; all of which are complete misconceptions.
#1: Don’t Eat Broccoli, Chocolate, Cheese, Spices, Oranges…
If you relied on Google and Facebook to determine what foods to avoid when breastfeeding, you would probably be left with next to nothing to eat.
The truth is there are generally no foods that breastfeeding mothers cannot eat. Following healthy diet principles as specified in leading health organisation guidelines such as the Australian dietary guidelines are appropriate.
The foods recommended for breastfeeding mothers to eat are the same as for non-breastfeeding women, although breastfeeding women are advised to eat a bit more!
Of course in the uncommon situation your baby has a medically confirmed food sensitivity, you may need to avoid eating certain foods.
#2: You Must Eat Lactation Cookies To Boost Your Supply
By far, the main driver of establishing and then maintaining a plentiful breastmilk supply is to have milk removed from your breasts well and often.
There is no need to eat anything in particular to make sufficient milk if you are eating well and enough calories.
#3: You Can’t Let Your Baby Use You Like A Dummy
Western society really needs to get over this one. A dummy is actually an artificial nipple. In some cultures, dummies are unheard of. It really should be “Your baby is using that dummy like your breast!”
Children are little for such a short time and they really do need us! Breastfeeding is so much more than just food. It’s also nurturing, providing a place of comfort, protection, closeness, familiarity, warmth etc.
Children’s emotional needs are every bit as important as their physical needs. So next time your baby wants to breastfeed, for whatever reason, know you’re doing a wonderful thing.
You might like to read more about dummies in Can Pacifiers Help Breastfeeding? and “Your Baby Is Using You Like A Dummy!” — Is She Really?
#4: You Need To Schedule Feeds
How much milk you make is determined by how well and often milk is removed from your breasts. In order for your breastmilk supply to meet your individual baby’s needs, it’s important for your baby to be fed according to her need. This means feeding your baby when she is showing feeding cues.
In contrast, scheduling and restricting a baby’s feeds can result in a low milk supply. Check out How Often Should I Feed My Breastfed Baby and Baby Hunger Cues – How To Tell If Your Baby Is Hungry to find out more.
#5: You Need To Stop Breastfeeding At ‘X’ Age
Leading health organisations from around the world recommend breastfeeding for at least one year or for as long as the mother and child desire. Just because your child reaches a certain age doesn’t mean you have to wean unless you or your child want to.
If you’re both still into breastfeeding, keep going. There are plenty of health reasons for the both of you to do so, be sure to read Breastfeeding Toddlers – 7 Benefits Of Breastfeeding Your Toddler for more information.
#6: You Need To Totally Avoid Alcohol
Despite what people might tell you, you don’t have to totally abstain from consuming alcohol when breastfeeding. The key is to plan ahead.
Alcohol leaves your breastmilk at the same rate as it leaves your bloodstream. As a general rule, it takes two hours per standard drink of alcohol to clear your system.
Hence four hours for two standard drinks, six hours for three standard drinks and so on. For a more accurate rate of time it takes for alcohol to leave your system, refer to the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s Feed Safe App.
If you’ve only had one or two standard drinks, you may be able to consume alcohol straight after your baby feeds. Enough time might pass until your baby wants to feed again and for when your milk will be alcohol free.
If you plan to drink more alcohol, you can express some breastmilk before you start drinking, so that while you’re waiting for your breastmilk to be free of alcohol you can provide her with your alcohol-free previously expressed breastmilk.
For more information about alcohol and breastfeeding you can read our article Alcohol And Breastfeeding – Is It Safe To Drink Alcohol?
#7: You Need To Cover Up To Breastfeed In Public
Breastfeeding is the biologically normal way to feed babies. The right to breastfeed is protected by law under Australia’s Federal Sex Discrimination Act. This legislation states breastfeeding in public is not unnatural or illegal. So babies can be breastfed anywhere and at any time as needed.
If covering up makes you more comfortable, by all means go ahead. However, if you or your child don’t fancy hiding under a blanket while breastfeeding, you certainly don’t have to.
Hopefully this article can help make you feel more confident about breastfeeding. Be sure to ask for help if you need it.