BY CARA SUTTNER
Some of the most common questions I get from new mums go something like this…. “Is it true that you must xyz…. ?? my neighbor/ aunt/ check out lady said that I have to do this!!” Welcome to motherhood, where everyone has their own opinion and is not afraid to offer it to you, whether you asked for it or not.
While this is usually very well meaning, it can be very over whelming and confusing for a new mother. Here are some of the common myths around at the moment.
1) “YOUR BABY WILL EAT EVERY 3-4 HOURS. YOU MUST WAKE YOUR BABY AT THESE TIMES TO EAT!”
This one has been disproven by numerous studies on newborn stomach capacity, yet continues to be a doctrine for a lot of mothers. When your baby is in utero he is getting a constant flow of nutrition 24/7. Why do we suddenly expect newborns to be born and wait for their meals times? Newborns have stomachs the size of ping pong balls, so they need small, frequent feeds to keep them happy. This also works for mum to help bring her milk in, in those first few days. It is also quite normal for babies to have a sleepy period in the day. Unless there is a medical reason to do so: DON’T wake your baby to eat. They probably will have a sluggish feed, and be unsettled thereafter. In short, feed your baby when they are hungry. The schedule will come (or it won’t.. most adults I know eat when they are hungry, not to the clock!)
2) “ONLY USE ONE BREAST PER FEED! ALWAYS!”
This is such a black and white statement that most mothers are ordered from day 1. It just can’t be, that it applies to all mother-baby dyads. Some mothers will have a lot of milk, and one breast may be enough for their little, not so hungry baby. But some mothers may have a smaller storage capacity, and hungrier babies. This baby will not be happy with just one breast per feed. So, always question absolute blanket statements when you hear them. Think about your own situation and watch your baby. If she is still hungry after one side, offer the other!
3) “WATCH WHAT YOU EAT WHILE BREASTFEEDING!”
Do’s and Don’ts Cabbage? Cauliflower? Caffeine? Curry? (the C foods seem to get a bad rep) But there is no evidence to suggest that any of theses foods have a significant effect on your breastfeeding baby. Eat what you enjoy. Your baby is already used to the foods you ate when you were pregnant, as your amniotic fluid takes on these tastes. Same with your breast milk! In certain rare cases your baby may develop an allergy to some proteins that are passed into your milk via the foods that you eat. Main allergens are found in cows milk, soy, wheat and eggs. Some signs that may indicate allergy are skin rashes, blood/mucus in the stools or low weight gain. Discuss these cases with your doctor.
4) “IF YOU DON’T FEEL ENGORGED/ HARD AND SORE WHEN YOUR MILK COMES IN, YOU HAVE A SUPPLY ISSUE!”
A lot of people will tell you about the “time my milk came in”. They will recount with woe the “Dolly Parton” breasts that appeared over night. This is a reality for a lot of mums on day 2-6 when mature milk is coming in, in larger quantities. But some mums never experience this. This can leave them questioning if their milk indeed ever came in, or if they have an issue with milk supply. In actuality, if you are feeding on demand, and feeding well, your baby will be efficiently emptying your breasts. In this case, you might have a less momentous story about when your milk came in. Other signs that indicate your colostrum has transitioned into mature milk are that you hear your baby swallowing a lot more, their stools change from black/green to yellow and they seem a lot more satisfied after a breast feed.
5) “BREAST FEEDING ALWAYS HURTS” OR “BREASTFEEDING IS NATURAL AND PAIN FREE!”
Such opposite myths! Ironically mums hear both constantly! Breast feeding should not always hurt. A first time mum, however may experience a degree of nipple sensitivity. After all, this is all new! The nipples are being tugged on, are in a moist environment for most of the day, and there is increased blood flow to the whole area. However, if done correctly, once a baby is latched on and drinking, this sensitivity should decrease, and definitely not be “toe curling” painful. Get help if this is you! Breast feeding is not a natural, innate thing for the majority of mothers. It is a learnt skill for both mum and bub, and therefore there is often a training wheel period before it is perfected.
Cara Suttner is a Neo Natal Nurse, certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and mother of Five, find out more about her HERE