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Friday, August 25, 2017

Common Misconceptions of Breastfeeding

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to start a debate of whether or not breast is best. It is meant as an encouragement for those who choose the breastfeeding route or are considering breastfeeding. However you decide to feed your baby is your own personal decision.

Too many times before and during my own breastfeeding journey, I would listen to friends and family members share their breastfeeding experience. I came to realize how uninformed mothers actually are when it comes to breastfeeding, even those who have successfully breastfed to their goal. This honestly is heartbreaking that a number of women lack the wisdom and knowledge of their bodies and how their body works for them majority of the time. This is where #normalizebreastfeeding comes in and having an International Breastfeeding Week and a National Breastfeeding Month. It is not to shame moms who choose not to breastfeed, although I am aware there are those people out there who do but not all of us are doing that when we share our knowledge or use the hashtag.

Normalizing breastfeeding is about informing the world, men and women, that breastfeeding is a natural biological act between a mother and an infant. It is also about setting straight the misconceptions that are out there concerning breastfeeding that discourage moms from continuing their breastfeeding journey. A lot of that discouragement comes from our family members and friends, unfortunately, because they "couldn't" breastfeed due to xyz. The discouragement comes from our health care providers who may have little to no training in breastfeeding.

Almost all have good intentions and want you to be successful in your breastfeeding journey but their lack of knowledge prevents them from actually helping you. Therefore, I wanted to share the common misconceptions I am constantly hearing from those around me to help spread the proper knowledge so mothers can be fully informed and make their decision based on facts, not myths. After all, breastfeeding is a personal decision and is always up to the mother as they are the only one who knows their baby best.

Low Milk Supply - one of the common concerns of breastfeeding is, "will I have enough milk?" It certainly was my concern and question after hearing those around me saying they didn't make enough but most mothers are able to make plenty of milk. Yes, there are women who really can't produce enough but before jumping to that conclusion for yourself, there may be another underlying issue going on. Your body uses the early weeks to establish its expected milk production capacity based on milk removal, so if you're truly worried get help now by contacting a IBCLC (find a local one here). 
Breast Size Matters - Breast size is determined by fat which has no bearing on milk production therefore how much milk you make is not related to how big your breasts are. The breast tissue, which is where your milk-producing cells are located, determines how much milk you make. Insufficient glandular tissue, or breast hypoplasia can be the exception to the rule because these types of breast have less milk-making tissue.
Breastfeeding is Painful - Nipple sensitivity is common the first few days but if breastfeeding actually hurts then that is your body signaling to change something. Nipple pain and damage is not normal. Breastfeeding is not about how good the latch or holding position looks, it is about how it feels. If you are feeling pain and/or the baby isn't getting milk well, then something needs adjusting and/or fixing. Your nipples may be super-sensitive for a day or two but actual pain and damage is a no no. Mastitis, tongue-tie, and thrush can all cause sore nipples which a IBCLC (find a local one here) can help you find the source of your pain.

More Breastfeeding Resources:
Breastfeeding Essentials (coming next week)
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