My opinion is that anybody offended by breastfeeding is staring too hard.
Like all expectant Mothers I was keen to learn the facts about breastfeeding the moment I knew I was pregnant. I had heard all sorts of stories that made me excited, frightened and just plain old confused. So now that we are in World Breastfeeding awareness week I wanted to share some of my findings with you.
Babies know how to breastfeed naturally
Fact: A baby is born with infant reflexes that can help with breastfeeding like a suck reflex and a rooting reflex. The suck reflex is the baby’s instinct to suck anything that touches the roof of their mouth. The rooting reflex is when the baby turns their head towards any stroking on the cheek or the mouth. Although your baby is born with these natural instincts, they do not guarantee breastfeeding success. Breastfeeding has to be learned and practiced by both baby and the mum. I can’t advise strongly enough on the need to get a lactation consultant. The HSE does give support for this so don’t be afraid to just ask!
The size and shape of your nipples can affect breastfeeding
Fact: Every woman has different sized and shaped breasts and nipples. There is no “perfect” breast for breastfeeding. Every baby is different, the size of their mouth, lips and tongue, etc. The anatomic compatibility between mommy and baby is what makes for a better breastfeeding experience.
I breastfed Erin in the famous Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris - less hassle than bottles!
You have to drink milk to make milk
Fact: Drinking milk has nothing to do with a woman’s production of breast milk. It is, however, important to have a healthy diet. The body draws the essential nutrients to add to her breast milk.
Breastfeeding always hurts
Fact: Breastfeeding should rarely hurt. Your nipples may become sensitive when you start breastfeeding because of an increased hormone level after delivery and increased contact with your baby during feeding. Although nipple sensitivity is normal, nipple pain is not normal and should be evaluated by a lactation consultant to determine the cause. The most common reason for painful nipples is an incorrect latch or position and can be helped by a lactation consultant. The HSE will provide a lactation consultant both in the maternity ward and for home call outs in the days after your baby is home. I have campaigned for this service to be boosted as it was essential for me being able to breastfeed.
Many women do not make enough breast milk.
Fact: Most women make enough milk for their baby. There are many women who think they don’t make enough breast milk for their baby’s needs. Instead of focusing on the size of your breasts, or the fullness you feel, pay attention to these signs that breastfeeding is going well for you and your baby:
By the time your baby is four days old, they should have at least six wet diapers each 24 hour period.
By the time your baby is four days old, they should have at least three or more poopy diapers, with yellowish colored poop.
Your baby’s wee is pale and diluted.
Your baby is breastfeeding at least eight times in a 24-hour period.
Your baby regains their birth weight by 10 to 14 days old.
Your baby is gaining about four to eight ounces per week.
During a feeding, you should be able to see and hear the baby swallow.
During a feeding, your baby should have a rhythmic suckling pattern.
I will not make enough milk in the days before my breast milk “comes in.”
Fact: Under normal circumstances a new mum makes exactly enough breast milk for a newborn’s needs. A newborn’s stomach is about the size of a marble. In the first couple of days after birth, if the baby is breastfeeding a minimum of eight times in a 24 hour period, the mother’s body will make about five milliliters (ml), which seems tiny until you realise the size of baby's stomach.
As the baby continues to breastfeed, regularly, the mother’s body will get the signal to increase the amount of milk to meet the baby's needs.
There is no way to determine how much breast milk the baby is getting.
Fact: It is true that it’s difficult to determine the exact amount that a breastfed baby is getting, at any given feeding session. As stated under myth five, there are signs that the baby is getting enough milk, which can be measured by the weight gain and nappy content (wee and poop). The important part is whether the weight gain is on track. Again the HSE provide a home call out service to monitor this.
Formula is the same as breast milk.
Fact: This statement is complete BS! Even the formula making companies don’t stand by this statement.Formula is not like breast milk AT ALL. Formula is more like “medicine” than a food. If your baby needs to have formula for certain reasons, that’s fine. Breast milk is the ideal food for your baby because breast milk prepares your baby’s tummy for food by coating and closing the normal openings in the lining of the baby’s intestines. Breast milk is also designed for easy digestion for your baby. Often babies who drink breast milk experience less spitting up and gas. Breast milk also provides your baby with their “first immunisations” to help prevent them from getting sick.
Breast milk fed babies have been studied to have reduced risks of:
Adolescent and adult obesity
Celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease
Childhood leukemia and lymphomas
Respiratory infections, including bronchiolitis and pneumonia
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
You should not breastfeed if you are taking medications.
Fact: This is also not true. Taking medication while breastfeeding, should always involve the advice of your GP and lactation consultant.
Don’t wake a sleeping baby to breastfeed.
Fact: In the first few days after the birth, your baby sleeps... a lot! In order to create a regular breastfeeding routine you need to wake up your sleeping baby. Allowing a baby to continue to sleep and have longer periods of time between feedings can actually make them sleepier.