When I was pregnant, I received many pieces of advice on breastfeeding and the preparation involved. I was told, “You’ll need to toughen up those nipples!” “WHAT?” I have to push a human out of a tiny area of my body and toughen up my nipples before he gets here? Is this what I signed up for? Here is a list of breastfeeding myths!
1. Breastfeeding Comes Naturally
I have done it three times and while it becomes more familiar, it was never easy or natural in the beginning. It took me almost eight weeks to actually be comfortable enough that I didn’t consider stopping every day. That is not a popular thing to share, but I feel this information could be very helpful to new moms. If someone would have given me that piece of information, then I may have nursed my first son past six weeks. I was close, I just didn’t know it. It can be different for everyone but it was right around the eight-week mark for me before things started to become comfortable. Especially for first-time parents, taking a birthing and/or breastfeeding course (in many cases, offered through your local hospital) can be extremely informative and beneficial.
Classes and books can offer breastfeeding techniques and other support to help you succeed.
2. You Need to Toughen Up Your Nipples
I was told to use everything from a dry towel to Brillo Pads (yes, Brillo Pads! Can you imagine?) I ignored all suggestions and things turned out just fine. According to drspock.com, “Many experts now agree that toughening the nipples in preparation for nursing is NOT necessary and may cause uterine contractions, resulting in stress for the baby. You should avoid use of soaps and other irritating or drying agents on your nipples during pregnancy and while you are nursing.” Give yourself a break and leave them be. They will soon be working harder than you realize.
3. You Cannot Breastfeed with Flat or Inverted Nipples
Women can still breastfeed with success, it just takes a little more effort with the use of breast shields or a massage technique. “The Hoffman Technique can help a Mother prevent unnecessary frustration with breastfeeding when the baby is born.” (drspock.com)
4. Breastfeeding Prevents You From Getting Pregnant
Breastfeeding is NOT guaranteed birth control. As soon as your menstrual cycle returns, you can get pregnant again. Some birth-controls options are low-dose birth control pills and/or condoms. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you and keep in mind that any chemicals that enter your body will make their way to your breast milk.
5. Breastfeeding Changes the Shape and Size of Your Breast, or Reduces Sensitivity
Wait a second, did I actually find this as a myth? So it is pregnancy, not breastfeeding that has caused my bust size to grow and shrink more than once over the last five years. Here is what I found to support this statement. “The fact is while pregnancy does somewhat alter the look and feel of your breasts, experts say breastfeeding does not cause any changes beyond that.” In fact, “breastfeeding can actually help protect your breasts,” says lactation consultant Linda M. Hanna, IBCLC, with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Indeed, studies show that women who breastfeed have a reduced risk of breast cancer later in life.” (webmd.com)
Best of luck to all you breastfeeding Moms!
Originally published on EmpowHer