Breastfeeding Basics

Say It Isn’t So: The Myths & Misconceptions of Breastfeeding

New moms are bombarded with information about breastfeeding. To help sort the facts from the fiction, we went to Virtua lactation consultant Nicole Kekesi, RD, IBCLC, RLC.

MYTH:
Breastfeeding will hurt the first few days. Just like a dancer who needs to toughen up her toes, your nipples will build a layer of callouses in the early days of breastfeeding.

TRUTH:
No way! I always shake my head when I see this sort of statement on message boards for moms. Some initial tenderness is normal, but if you experience bite-on-a-pillow pain, something is not right. I equate the natural discomfort to mild sunburn: the tenderness should only last a few days and should not worsen. Pain with breastfeeding is almost always due to a poor latch.


MYTH:
You have little or no milk in the first few days of breastfeeding. 

TRUTH:
In the beginning, it may seem like you produce little to no milk. But keep in mind that a newborn’s belly is the size of a marble and only holds approximately half to one teaspoon of fluid per feeding. During the first few days after her baby arrives, a woman produces colostrum, which is a thick, sticky type of milk that is small in volume but high in nutrition—perfect for your new baby. 

Also remember that breastfeeding is hard work for the newborn, so feeding times may take longer than you anticipate. Make sure you have your baby latched correctly and allow him/her to get the colostrum they need for the feeding. Trust in your body, just like you did during pregnancy!


MTYH:
There is no way to measure if my baby is getting enough to eat.

TRUTH:
We live in a time where everything is measured and compared. Unfortunately, there isn’t an ultra-sophisticated smartphone app to measure your baby’s intake and how that compares with international averages. What we can do is monitor your baby’s weight and diapers. 

Remember how every nurse at the hospital seemed oddly obsessed with the status of your baby’s diaper? That’s because if something is coming out the bottom, that means something is going in the top. Generally, by day three of life, we want to see three wet diapers and two poopy diapers.  

It is also normal for your baby’s weight to drop some in the early days so DO NOT PANIC! Anything from 7 to 10 percent weight loss in normal; the goal is for your baby to regain his or her birth weight by two weeks.


MYTH:
Bottle-feeding is much easier than breastfeeding.

TRUTH: Let’s break this down. Breastfeeding is essentially a two-step process: first you place the baby, and then you help the baby latch. The steps for bottle-feeding include washing the bottle, preparing the formula or expressed breast milk, feeding the baby, and washing the bottle again for next time. So which sounds easier?



Breastfeeding is often thought of as difficult because many women do not get the education or support they need, especially in the beginning. If you have questions and feel overwhelmed, ask for help, attend support groups, or make an appointment with a lactation consultant. In short, seek out the assistance you need to make the process work for you!

Like anything new, there is a learning curve.  Give yourself time, ask for help and—most of all—enjoy this time with your baby.

Updated October 20, 2016

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