Pregnancy and child birth is surrounded by old-wives’ tales and myths that are passed down from generation to generation. So it’s not surprising that many new moms are told myths about breastfeeding as well. We’re here to bust some of the most common breastfeeding myths. Forget about toughening up your nipples, we’ve got the facts.
Myth #1: It’s normal for breastfeeding to hurt.
Fact: While initiating breastfeeding in the first few days can sometimes be tender and uncomfortable, it should never hurt, and that discomfort should never last more than these first few days. If you dread breastfeeding because of the pain, chances are something is wrong. If you have consistent pain during breastfeeding, your baby could be latching poorly or you could be suffering from an infection.
Myth #2: You should only eat bland foods while breastfeeding.
Fact: This myth derives from the thought that spicy and strong flavored foods will transfer through your breast milk and upset your baby. But, studies show you can (and should!) eat whatever you want while breastfeeding. In fact, some studies have shown that babies who are exposed to various flavors in utero or while nursing are more likely to like that flavor when they are weaned. So to avoid picky eaters later, spice up your diet now.
Myth #3: You need to toughen up your nipples before breastfeeding.
Fact: Stop right now! You do NOT need to toughen up your nipples in any way before breastfeeding. What you can do, however, is prepare yourself for breastfeeding in other ways. Some moms find that washing with soap can be too harsh on the nipple area, and that rinsing simply with warm water helps keep the sensitive skin from cracking. Other women who have flat or inverted nipples might want to contact a lactation consultant for tips on successful breastfeeding techniques specific to them.
Myth #4: You should stop breastfeeding if you’re sick.
Fact: If you have a cold, flu, or other minor virus, keep on breastfeeding. Breast milk gives your baby the best protection against sickness. The protective antibodies it contains help your baby’s developing immune system fight off infection and illness. Plus, chances are if you have a contagious illness, your baby was exposed to it even before you showed symptoms. However, it’s still important to make sure you wash your hands, avoid coughing and sneezing near your baby, and put those kisses on hold for a few days!
Myth #5: Breastfeeding is an effective form of birth control.
Fact: If you are having sex, it is completely possible to get pregnant, whether you’re breastfeeding or not. However, you are much less likely to conceive if you are within the first six months of breastfeeding, your period has not returned, and you are not supplementing with formula. But unless you are ready for another baby, you should be discussing other birth control options with your OB-GYN.
Myth #6: You’re a bad mom if you don’t breastfeed.
Fact: Although breastfeeding provides amazing benefits for both you and your baby, some women are unable to breastfeed for various reasons. This does not make anyone who supplements breast milk with formula, or relies entirely on formula a bad mother! The most important thing is providing your baby with nutrients that will help them grow big and strong, and showering them with as much love as you possibly can!