Cover photo: Jenna Nord Photography
The journey of breastfeeding can come with challenges. One of the biggest challenges I see, as lactation professional, is misinformation, myths, and generational beliefs that are not evidence-based. Unfortunately, these myths are not harmless, especially when they place blame on new parents.
Here are a few debunked myths and a gentle reminder that as a new mama you are trying your best and deserve support, not judgment.
Myth #1 Because it’s natural, breastfeeding is easy.
→ Breastfeeding comes naturally to some babies and some babies have a few hurdles to start. Finding the perfect position for parent & baby can be tricky and discouraging, but with a bit of patience and help from a professional (IBCLC, CLC, CBC) you can be breastfeeding should you choose to. Check out this post for steps you can take during pregnancy and labor to support your breastfeeding journey.
Myth #2 Engorgement is normal.
→ Fullness during lactogenesis 2 (when your milk matures) is often mistaken for engorgement. Engorgement is not normal and not a normal part of breastfeeding. Classic signs of true engorgement include swollen, hot, painful breasts and (when an infection is present) a low-grade fever (less than 100°F or 37.7°C). If you suspect engorgement reach out to an IBCLC for a plan that minimizes your discomfort and keeps you on track for your goals.
Myth #3 Latch is more important than position.
→ A good latch is hard to achieve with a position that isn’t ideal for baby. Consider how you position yourself to eat and place your baby similarly. Cross0cradle is a popular position, however it can be tricky after a cesarean. Taking a breastfeeding class can help prepare you with multiple position options should your initial latch or early week require some agility (most do).
Myth #4 My nipples are too ______.
→ Very rarely is anatomy a true hindrance to breastfeeding. If you have received this statement know that there are many tools that can be added in to support your breastfeeding journey and that they are most powerful when coupled with professional support. Ex: through the act of feeding your baby can actually coax an inverted nipple to flip outward!
Myth #5 It’s normal for breastfeeding to hurt for the first two weeks.
→ I hear this all the time, especially from senior maternal figures in the family. Latching your baby should never cause you pinching or pain. That is a sign of a shallow latch which can lead to low supply, nipple damage, long and inefficient feeds, etc. Try relatching your babe, aiming the nipple deep in their mouth. If pain persists consult a lactation professional!
Myth #6 I bottle-fed so now I can’t breastfeed.
→ There are no set rules when it comes to breastfeeding! Babies under six months have a 75% likelihood of being able to switch to breast, even if they’ve never breastfed. KellyMom.com has numerous resources and a professional can help get you started!