Myths and old wives’ tales surround pregnancy and childbirth, so it’s no wonder many new moms get confused about what’s right and what’s not-so-true when it comes to breastfeeding. The fact is, every child is unique, and breastfeeding is a unique experience for every mom and baby.
With that said, we’ve listed below several of the more common myths about breastfeeding and have taken a moment to clear up each one. We hope that once you know the facts, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your little one is the best choice for you.
Myth 1. If You Decide Not to Breastfeed, You’re a Bad Mother
While it’s true that breastfeeding offers some great health and emotional benefits, there is no evidence that supplementing with or feeding entirely with baby formula is unhealthy or unsafe for your baby. Great parenting is all about giving your child all the nutrients they need and nurturing the bond you share. This can be done with or without breast milk, so never let anyone make you feel like you’re a failure if breastfeeding didn’t work for you.
Myth 2. Breastfeeding Hurts
Initially, breastfeeding can be uncomfortable, and your nipples can be sore for a few days. After this initial period, however, breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt. If pain persists, this is something you need to have checked. Your baby could be having trouble latching on properly or you could have an infection. Don’t ignore pain during breastfeeding or give up because of it. Instead, check with your doctor to find out what is going on.
Myth 3. You Should Avoid Spicy Foods While Breastfeeding
This myth stems from the thought that everything you eat transfers to your baby via your breast milk and that some spicy or strong flavors can upset your baby’s delicate tummy. While the things you ingest do transfer to your baby during breastfeeding, you shouldn’t avoid foods you like for this reason. In fact, you should eat whatever you want as exposure to different flavors could help your child not be a picky eater once weaned.
Myth 4. Toughening Up Your Nipples Before Breastfeeding Helps
Nope. There is no reason to “toughen up” your nipples before breastfeeding. You can, however, prepare ahead of time in other ways. For example, soap can be harsh on the delicate nipple skin, so instead, try using plain warm water to clean the area and prevent cracking. If you have flat or inverted nipples and want to breastfeed your new baby, contact a lactation consultant beforehand to learn tips for successful breastfeeding.
Myth 5. If You’re Sick, You Have to Stop Breastfeeding
This myth just doesn’t make sense since your baby has probably already been exposed to whatever you have. In fact, your breast milk contains protective antibodies that help your baby’s immune system fight off sickness.
If you’re sick, continue breastfeeding as normal, but avoid coughing or sneezing around your baby. Wash your hands regularly, and avoid giving your child kisses until you feel better.
There are a lot of myths surrounding pregnancy and childbirth, so it’s understandable when a new mom isn’t quite sure about breastfeeding. Remember, you’re not a bad mother if you can’t breastfeed or choose not to. The experience is unique to every new mom and baby. Hopefully, our myth-busting efforts above have cleared things up a bit so you can make an informed decision as to whether breastfeeding is right for you and your little one.