Resolutions, setting intentions, goals... whatever you call it - if you're a mom who plans to breastfeed for any amount of time this year, this one's for you. There's a ton of bad info out there, and because we're always learning, there's constantly new information to learn and share, too. We're evolving, and that's a damn good thing. Our practices have to follow suit! So, without further delay, here are our top 5 breastfeeding myths to un-learn in 2018:
1. Babies don't know how to latch. Latching is an art form, no doubt about it. Mother and baby have to learn to work together, what's comfortable, etc. BUT! Your baby knows more about positioning and latching than you probably do. Allowing baby to self-attach and latch on after birth will show you. They look for the dark contours of the nipple, prod with their little hands (which serve to knead your breasts and send prolactin levels up!), and find their way for their first feed. From there, you'll notice that when baby displays hunger cues, if you bring your nipple toward their nose, they'll lean back their head (that's why you should hold the base of the head and neck instead of palming their little noggins like a basketball!) and open wide. This is the perfect position, allowing the nipple to enter at the top of the mouth where there's the most open space, perfect for the pulling and stretching baby has to do to bring about letdown, and most comfortable for mom, as well.
2. Introducing solid food means pumping less at work. Unfortunately, this isn't necessarily true either. Between 6-12 months, solids are largely for practice- hand eye coordination, introducing new flavors- and there are certainly babies who REALLY take to solid food. Generally speaking, they will still require the same nutrients and volume of milk for some time, and it doesn't really lighten the load on a breastfeeding or pumping mother. Mentally, however, there is a big boost for moms who have felt pressure being the only food source for a baby, particularly if that mom is working out of the home and spends a good part of her day in a lactation room.
3. Babies should be sleeping "well" at 12 weeks. Sleep training is a subject that solicits as many opinions as breastfeeding, and the two can be closely related, too. We're not wading into the sleep-training debate today, but instead, we question what 'good' sleep is, and if the gold star we give ourselves for babies who sleep through the night wrongly pressures parents who are choosing to do things differently. Many babies benefit from feeding during the night, wake at least once per night for several months, and generally need the closeness from mom and dad. If the family is happy and rested, regardless of waking up once or twice during the night, that's all that matters. Bonus for the somewhat sleep-deprived mom: she probably has to pump less during the day if she works out of the home.
4. Mastitis means the end of breastfeeding. If you're a breastfeeding mom, you've probably googled the M-word at least once, and shuddered at the symptoms. If you suspect you have mastitis at any point, the best person to call for help is your care provider. But know this: women nurse though it ALL. THE. TIME! And mothers go on to rebound in their supply, and continue to reach their nursing goals. Once you've worked with your doctor to diagnose mastitis and identified a course of treatment on their recommendation, please opt for additional self-care and work with an IBCLC or CLC to identify any latch or other feeding issues that could lead to another case. Curing the infection and getting to the root of the problem so it doesn't happen again is the best course.
5. Going back to work as a breastfeeding mom limits you. Returning to work is incredibly overwhelming for many moms. We've been there. Pumping and making enough milk to sustain a baby that relies exclusively on you can also be overwhelming. Here's the thing - if this is what you want and your baby/family needs, we (and so many other women who've been there) have your back. There are hacks and strategies involved (its what we're really good at!), but we believe in enabling full participation and ensuring that every mom reaches her goals at home and work. Regardless of your specific situation, being open is the way to go. For us, that meant unloading frozen bags of breastmilk at LAX with our male boss looking on... and instead of the awkward moment we'd steeled ourselves for, he gave a knowing look, said, "I have three kids of my own and I know how babies eat," and thanked us for working harder than he ever could to keep it all going at home and in the office. People will surprise you. People want you to succeed. You've got this.
2018: bring it on. If you have tips of your own, we want to hear, too! Click Contact Us and share yours.