Common Concerns

5 Breastfeeding Myths and Misconceptions that Really Annoy the Heck Out of Us!

How many times have you heard a so-called breastfeeding ‘fact’ from a family member, friend, healthcare professional, or online resource that has your ‘mama-radar’ going off at warp speed?  Maybe something just doesn’t sound right. Maybe it goes against all of your breastfeeding instincts. Maybe it is completely contradictory to what you heard the previous day. Well, it’s time to start busting those myths and misconceptions! 

World Breastfeeding Week 2019 begins in a few days and this year’s theme is all about empowering breastfeeding families.  We couldn’t think of a better way to empower breastfeeding families than by providing real facts to some of the most common breastfeeding myths/misconceptions! We will also be chatting about additional breastfeeding misconceptions on Baby Tula’s Facebook Live on August 2, 2019 at 10am PST, so definitely join us that day!

So, here we go…..

Myth #1: When pregnant, you should rough up your nipples to prepare them for breastfeeding.

Ok, so who thought up this ridiculous idea??? Why would we ever think that "roughing up" our nipples by rubbing them with a towel was a good recommendation. There is no need to cause nipple trauma and scabbing before your baby even arrives! In fact, rubbing your nipples can actually remove the protective substances produced by the breast during pregnancy and afterwards. Sure, your nipples may feel sensitive for those first few days to weeks, but with a great latch, they will become less sensitive over time, all on their own. No need to do anything to prepare them prior to your baby being born.

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Myth #2: If your baby feeds more than every 2-3 hours, then he/she is not getting enough.

So, this statement is a little complicated.  Sometimes, this can be true, especially if your baby is not gaining weight well and feeding every hour throughout the day and night.  This situation might indicate that your baby might not be getting enough milk and your milk supply/baby milk transfer should be assessed.

Typical baby behavior is feeding about 8-12 times per 24 hours, especially for the first few months.  Remember, babies’ tummies are small, so they need frequent, small feedings. Some babies with reflux and tummy issues also like small, frequent feedings.  There are also situations where babies temporarily feed more frequently, like during cluster feedings times (aka witching hours) and during growth spurts (which last a few days.)  Cluster feeding often happens when your baby needs a bit more snuggling time to unwind from the day and growth spurts are nature’s way of requesting more milk for future feedings. So, these are totally normal situations when a baby would feed more frequently than every 2-3 hours and don’t indicate a low supply, at all.


Myth #3: Nursing beyond a year is just for mom’s benefit

So, let’s just think about this one for a second.  Is there an on/off switch that makes breastmilk less valuable and nutritious on a baby’s first birthday?  Does it suddenly lose all of its immunological properties? I think not. In fact, there are so many nutritional, social, mental, and physical benefits for breastfeeding beyond a year, as well as the fact that breastfeeding beyond a year is normal.  Kellymom.com has incredible resources on this subject, so I will just share a few of my favorites:

  • According to Dewey (2001), in the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:

    • 29% of energy requirements

    • 43% of protein requirements

    • 36% of calcium requirements

    • 75% of vitamin A requirements

    • 76% of folate requirements

    • 94% of vitamin B12 requirements

    • 60% of vitamin C requirements

  • Immunities in mother’s milk continues as long as breastfeeding continues and some increase in concentration as the child gets older.

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that “Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child… Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother… There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.” (AAP 2012, AAP 2005)

So, if you want to breastfeed for longer than a year, go for it!  It is fantastic for both you and your child. What’s most important is the breastfeeding family’s goals for how long they want to breastfeed…. Not what others believe should be the goal!


Myth #4: Small breasts = small milk supply; Large breasts = large milk supply

As a lactation consultant, I see breasts of all shapes and sizes and this misconception could not be further from the truth. Milk supply is determined by the amount of glandular tissue you have in your breasts and how this fatty tissue expands and multiplies during pregnancy and after your baby is born. Milk supply also significantly depends on breast emptying after your baby is born…. The more you empty your breasts when feeding or pumping, the more signals are sent to your brain to produce more milk. The actual breast is just the vessel/container to hold the milk. So, a size DD breast can hold more milk at one time, compared to a size B breast, but may not necessarily differ in the amount of milk made over a 24 hour period.

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Myth #5: If your baby is taking forever to transfer milk while breastfeeding, then you have a lazy baby

I don’t think there are many phrases I despise more than ‘lazy baby.’ Think about this…. Why would a baby choose to be lazy? Your baby’s only job is to feed to stay alive, therefore survival is based on being as robust a feeder possible. A baby who seems ‘lazy’ and takes over an hour (on average) to breastfeed is actually a baby having a difficult time breastfeeding. This could be caused by tethered oral tissue (tongue/lip tie), jaundice, using a nipple shield, prematurity, as well as many other reasons. So, babies who appear ‘lazy’ are often just doing the best that they can with the situation they’ve been dealt. And this is a fantastic reason to meet with an IBCLC to see how you can help your baby begin to feed more effectively and easily, as soon as possible!

So, what other breastfeeding myths and misconceptions absolutely drive you crazy?

Share them in the comments and we will do our best to remedy this misinformation in our interview on Baby Tula’s Facebook Live this week.

Help!  My baby won’t take a bottle!

Seen this face before?

Photo by  Brytny.com  on  Unsplash

Photo by Brytny.com on Unsplash

Good luck trying to get a bottle in this mouth!

So, breastfeeding has been going well!  Your little one feeds like a champ.  You have stored a bunch of breast milk in your freezer.  You have found a caregiver that will love your sweet, little muffin almost as much as you do.  Now, it is time to make sure your baby will be fed right while you are back at work and suddenly you run into a hiccup..... your adorable, lovely little one has decided that she is not interested in a bottle and downright refuses it!  

WHAT?  How can this happen?  

This is precious breast milk that you pumped with love!  How can she be that stubborn at such an early age? 

If it brings you any consolation, I see this all of the time at our breastfeeding center.  I have seen the stress in a parent's eyes when she has to return to work and her baby refuses everything, but the breast.  Well, I am here to alleviate that stress with a bunch of tricks to help your sweet, albeit opinionated, infant take a bottle before you return to work. 

List of Tricks to Help your Breastfed Baby Take a Bottle

  1. Have dad/partner try to give the bottle, not the breastfeeding mom. If he/she is not completely successful, have an experienced bottle feeder (grandma/grandpa, aunt/uncle, friend, nanny, daycare provider, etc.) give it a try. They may also not be as offended as dad/partner may be:)

  2. Patience is key! If your baby isn't interested, try at a different time of day. My kids were usually more calm in the morning than in the afternoon, so I would always try new things at the beginning of the day.

  3. Be playful! Rest the nipple on your baby's philtrum (the crease that connects her upper lip to her nose) and let her decide when she will take it in her mouth. This mimics what goes on during breastfeeding.

  4. Try different feeding techniques. Try feeding your baby with a bottle in a cradle hold. If that doesn't work, try feeding her facing you, either on your lap or in a bouncy chair. You can also try walking around.

  5. Some babies like to smell their moms while bottle feeding, so let her snuggle in one of mom's t-shirts or with her pillow case while bottle feeding.

  6. Choose a bottle nipple that looks most like your anatomy. Start with the slow-flow nipple. This will give your baby more sucking time, just like at breast. If your baby is a little older, or if you have a really fast-flow, your baby may prefer a faster flow nipple. Choose what most resembles you and your baby's breastfeeding experience.

  7. Use baby-led bottle feeding techniques to make bottle feeding more like breastfeeding. You can check out our YouTube channel for a video on how to do this!

  8. Experiment with different bottles and nipples. Babies have preferences, so give yours an opportunity to choose her bottle and nipple....without breaking the bank, of course!

  9. Warm the nipple under running water before offering it to your baby. She might have a temperature preference, too.

  10. You can always try a cup. Yes, even infants can drink from a cup. They usually lap it up rather than actually gulping. For more info on cup-feeding, check out Dr. Sear's article on alternatives to bottle feeding

  11. Try and try again! Something that didn't work the first time around may work on another day. It is like introducing avocado to your baby for the first time. Some babies love it. Others need to taste it over 10 times before they enjoy it.

If all else fails, call a lactation consultant!  We often can identify the root cause of why a baby isn’t taking a bottle and can offer suggestions for other bottles or other feeding methods.  At the San Diego Breastfeeding Center, we also have a variety of bottles to try in our office that we can try during a bottle-feeding consult!  You can make an appointment for one of those consultations HERE.

Hopefully this list has put your mind at ease and offered some advice to help you get through this challenge.  If the first trick doesn't work, just keep on going down the list.  If you have one that has worked for you, please add it to the comments.  Let's share our advice so that all parents can use this as a resource!

So, What's in your Latch book, Robin?

So, What's in your Latch book, Robin?

Since we announced the release of my new book, Latch: A Handbook to Breastfeeding with Confidence at Every Stage, many of our readers have asked what they can expect to find in the book. 

Well, let me tell you!

 

First we start off with how to prepare for breastfeeding.  Most of us spend months preparing for the birth of our child, but don't give much thought about what happens after our baby is born.  So, this book starts off with the basics of how milk production works, all about latching, as well as how to put together your Dream Team of Support for once your little one is earth side.

Robin Wrote a Breastfeeding Book!

One thing that many people don’t know about me is that I have always had a passion for writing. Before becoming a lactation consultant, I wrote curriculum for local museums and websites and wrote two unpublished children’s books.  So when I was approached to write this breastfeeding book I knew that there was no way I could pass up this amazing opportunity.

 

Supporting new families through their breastfeeding journeys has truly been my calling.  I love my job and the adrenaline rush I feel when I have empowered a family and helped them to meet their breastfeeding goals.  There is so much more to breastfeeding than just latching a baby to a breast.  There are nuances, both simple and challenging, that help make this process enjoyable and seamless.  We, as lactation consultants, have the honor to facilitate this breastfeeding process, when needed, and this book is just one step in that journey.  Latch: A Handbook to Breastfeeding with Confidence at Every Stage provides families with the supportive and educational basics they need while breastfeeding their children, from pregnancy to weaning.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some content you will find in Latch.  This book is a great baby shower gift, for even the most seasoned-breastfeeding parent, as well as something you will want to buy even if you have already started breastfeeding.  Latch is already available for presale on Amazon at: bit.ly/LatchBook and can be in your hands as early as March 13, 2018!

Thank you for following along and I look forward to sharing more details about Latch over the next few weeks!

Breastfeeding Truly Takes a Village!

A few months ago, we sent out a Call for Breastfeeding Stories.  Our desire was to flood the Internet with beautiful breastfeeding stories of triumph, overcoming challenges and struggles, and positive outcomes, regardless of the total amount of milk a mom was producing.  We are thrilled to share these stories with you, our readers, and hope that they offer support and inspiration for you, wherever you are in your breastfeeding journey. 

Thank you to all of the mothers who submitted their stories!  If after you read these memoirs you are inspired to submit your story, feel free to send it to RobinKaplan@sdbfc.com.    

We Were Not Meant to Mother Alone

We Were Not Meant to Mother Alone

A few months ago, we sent out a Call for Breastfeeding Stories.  Our desire was to flood the Internet with beautiful breastfeeding stories of triumph, overcoming challenges and struggles, and positive outcomes, regardless of the total amount of milk a mom was producing.  We are thrilled to share these stories with you, our readers, and hope that they offer support and inspiration for you, wherever you are in your breastfeeding journey. 

Thank you to all of the mothers who submitted their stories!  If after you read these memoirs you are inspired to submit your story, feel free to send it to RobinKaplan@sdbfc.com.    

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Our first breastfeeding memoir is from Michelle

I booked at least 2 vacations for my maternity leave, all on airplanes. I was going to wear my baby everywhere, nursing her as we went along. I had the organic breast pads purchased, all the nursing tanks, and the most breastfeeding-friendly bottles, but of course I wouldn’t need those for at least several months. I would see Mamas nursing their babes at the beach and I would find myself staring as I daydreamed about my nursling that was to come. December 2013, my sweet baby girl arrived.  She latched and we were a nursing team. 24hrs later I was told she was Coombs positive and her jaundice levels were high. She was sleepy, was losing too much weight and I needed to give her formula in a bottle. I cried lots of tears. "FORMULA? No way!", but I had no other options. Every time I fed her, and I wouldn’t let anyone else feed her.  I felt awful and felt like I was letting her down. 7 days later I was told, "your daughter is failure to thrive". Queue more tears, more formula, more guilt, and not a lot of milk being produced from me. 

Top 6 Tips for Protecting Your Milk Supply While Traveling for Work

We had this terrific question posted on our Facebook page:

“Dear Robin,

I leave tomorrow for a four day work trip and I can't take my baby with me. She has 6 feedings a day (one of those at night) so I'll be doing a good amount of pumping while I'm gone. Do you have any tips, specifically for pumping at airports and/or on planes? I'll be on a red eye there and a direct flight on the way back.”

Absolutely!  Just because you have to travel for work doesn’t mean that you can’t protect your milk supply while you are gone.  

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Here are my top 6 tips for protecting your milk supply while traveling for work

Breastfeeding... It has to get easier, right???

Breastfeeding... It has to get easier, right???

When I started working with Galit 10 1/2 months ago, I knew immediately that she would be one of the most dedicated, hard-working, and comedic mothers I would ever encounter.  Her breastfeeding journey has been wrought with painful nipples, engorged breasts, and twins who had difficulties transferring milk.  It has also been blessed with sweet moments of tandem nursing, gaining an abundance of milk, and confidence to overcome any challenge that lay in her path.  Happy 1st birthday to your adorable boys, Galit, and happy 1st nursiversary to you!  You continually inspire me!  

Here is Galit’s story, in her own words!

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I had twins at 37 weeks 3 days who were 5.5 and almost 6 lbs (FRIGGING AMAZING) after preterm labor at 23 weeks and 4 months of bed rest!  I wanted nothing more than to provide for them and ensure their health. Breastfeeding started out pretty rough.  My colostrum was hard to obtain and milk took forever to come in.  We were told to supplement with formula to keep them out of the NICU (they lost weight after birth, as all babies do), so we obliged. We went home with two healthy boys after 4 days and they were with me the entire time!

Do's and Don’ts of Using the Nipple Shield

Do's and Don’ts of Using the Nipple Shield

Written by Robin Kaplan, M.Ed, IBCLC

Is your baby having a difficult time latching?  Is breastfeeding incredibly painful?  Do you have a cracked nipple that just won’t heal?  Then most likely you have been recommended to try a nipple shield.  While the nipple shield can often be a terrific temporary tool to help with these situations, it is important to know how to use them correctly, as well as have an exit strategy for how to discontinue usage as soon as possible.

Using YouTube to Help Achieve Comfortable Breastfeeding Positions

Written by Ashley Treadwell, IBCLC

In the beginning, breastfeeding can feel somewhat awkward and uncomfortable as new moms learn how to get their baby properly latched on.  As an IBCLC, I see a lot of new moms breastfeeding their babies sitting straight up or hunched over, looking very uncomfortable.  Heck, I did this as a new mom myself!  I remember the constant aches in my neck and shoulders from sitting in contorted positions for long periods of time.  Breastfeeding is something moms do very frequently in the early weeks and months - it should be comfortable.