Breastfeeding Basics

Feature: Breastfeeding Basics
0
23
Aug

Breastfeeding—sure, it’s the natural thing to do and what breasts are made for, but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally to everyone or is easy to do.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants be exclusively breastfed, or receiving breast milk, “for about the first six months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.”

In Missouri, though, only about 16 percent of babies reach the 6-month target, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and even less reach the 12-month goal.

Knowledge is power. And when it comes to breastfeeding, moms need factual information and plenty of support if they want to attempt and maintain a successful breastfeeding experience.

Here are 10 breastfeeding myths busted by advocates and professionals from La Leche League International and Greater Ozarks Breastfeeding Coalition.

Myth #1: Breastfeeding is too restrictive for Mom.

Truth: Since the baby’s food source is attached to mom, mom is obviously in-demand quite often, especially by newborns whose bellies are about the size of a marble.

Many new moms may feel like they do nothing but breastfeed, especially in the first few weeks when mom’s milk is coming in and her body is figuring out the supply-and-demand situation. Other caregivers, like dads or grandparents, may feel like they are losing out on bonding time or feel unable to soothe a baby that enjoys comfort nursing.

But, while some moms may feel confined to baby’s demanding feeding schedule, the benefits of breastfeeding surpass the restrictive nature. Whether it is too restrictive for mom is something each will have to determine for herself and her situation.

Many moms find breastfeeding to also be liberating—breasts are always with mom, always ready, always the right temperature and never go to waste! Most breastfeeding moms get more sleep and spend less time preparing and washing bottles.

Many also believe that breastfeeding moms must restrict their diets. In most cases, breastfed babies are not sensitive to anything mom eats. If baby appears to be having sensitivity to something in mom’s diet, talk to a pediatrician to see if mom should consider an elimination diet.

Breastfeeding moms are also able to take many more medications than is commonly believed. If mom needs to take a medication, check with the Infant Risk Center (www.infantrisk.com) to find out if the medication is safe or what is a safe alternative.

When a breastfeeding mom does go out for an extended amount of time without her baby, she will need to pump, but chances are good she will spend more time with her baby than apart. The AAP says, “Choosing to breastfeed should be considered an investment in the short- and long-term health of the infant, rather than a lifestyle choice.”

 

Myth #2: Pumping is a good indication of how much breastmilk I’m making.

Truth: The amount of milk that a mom can pump is not an accurate measure of milk supply.

A baby with a healthy suck expresses milk much more efficiently than any pump. Pumping amounts can be very dependent on the type of pump one uses.

Some women who have abundant milk supplies are unable to get any milk when they first learn to pump. In addition, it’s common and normal for pumping output to decrease over time.

If there is discomfort while pumping, contact an IBCLC or LLL Leader who can make sure the pump is in good working order and flanges are sized correctly.

Remember, like breastfeeding, pumping is an art that takes practice and soon becomes easier.

 

Myth #3: Low-milk supply runs in my family, and there is nothing I can do.

Truth: Just because a mom or sister was unable to breastfeed successfully does not mean a new mom won’t be able to nurse.

Every mom-and-baby pair is different, and with good breastfeeding management, most moms and babies can nurse successfully.

 

Myth #4: A baby should nurse for 20 minutes on each side.

Truth: Rather than watching a clock, schedule or protocol, watch baby’s cues.

When hungry, baby will often move his/her hands to his/her mouth and scrunch or flex his/her legs and feet. As feeding progresses, baby will relax, gradually move his/her hands away from mouth, open his/her fists, and flutter his/her eyes.

Baby may fall asleep for a short while, and then wake, at which time the mom can see if baby needs to burp or wants to nurse more. Baby may be satisfied with one breast or want to switch sides.

Remember that nursing satisfies many needs in addition to hunger: thirst, comfort, need to suck, regulate heart rate and breathing, and help sleeping. So don’t worry if baby wants to nurse for a long time. Offering unlimited access to the breast is important for maintaining milk supply—a full-term, healthy baby knows what he/she needs. Try to trust baby’s wisdom!

 

Myth #5: Supplementing with formula or using a pacifier won’t hurt my supply.

Truth: Breastfeeding is a supply-and-demand system.

In the beginning, baby’s stomach is very tiny—about the size of a marble. Formula supplementation fills the baby up, takes longer to digest and results in fewer nursing sessions. Fewer nursing sessions (especially in the first 4 to 6 weeks) sends the wrong message to your body, and that can cause long term struggles with supply.

The same issue can result from pacifier use in a newborn. Newborns release a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK) when they suckle. This hormone makes baby feel full, satisfied and sleepy, and it’s meant to protect mom’s supply and keep baby well-rested. So, when a newborn takes a pacifier and falls asleep, it doesn’t mean baby wasn’t hungry.

 

Myth #6: Formula is just as good as breastmilk.

Truth: The World Health Organization puts formula fourth and last on its list of newborn feeding options. Number one is breastmilk from mom’s breast, second is breastmilk from mom in a bottle, third is breastmilk from a donor, and then fourth is formula.

Breastmilk is a living, dynamic food. Breastmilk is species-specific; it carries antibodies and stem cells and is incredibly healing.

While formula allows babies to grow and is medically necessary in some cases, formula carries a number of risks: It is difficult for baby to digest and can damage the gut, increases the risk of SIDS— SIDS is reduced by more than a third in breastfed babies—and is linked to numerous acute and chronic illnesses, like ear infections, allergies, diabetes, obesity and others, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The AAP recommends breastfeeding for at least one year; the WHO recommends breastfeeding to two years old or beyond.

Toddlers continue to receive the same great benefits from breastmilk as he/she did as a baby. As baby grows and nurses less often and takes less milk, many of the antibodies and other benefits of breastmilk concentrate into the smaller amounts of milk.

 

Myth #7: If baby has jaundice, formula should be given.

Truth: Jaundice is not a breastfeeding issue.

Jaundice is due to a buildup of biliruben in the blood. Biliruben is a yellow pigment that comes from the breakdown of old red blood cells. There are, basically, a couple main types of jaundice; each type has its own symptoms/treatments.

So long as baby is gaining weight well, having enough wet and dirty diapers and generally healthy, then there is no reason to stop breastfeeding or to start supplementing with formula.

If phototherapy or extra sunlight is being used to combat jaundice then keep in mind the extra fluid requirements that baby will have. If at all possible, just try to breastfeed more (or feed expressed milk). There are plenty of ways around giving formula to a baby dealing with jaundice.

 

Myth #8: If mom is sick or has an infection, she should stop breastfeeding.

Truth: There is no reason to stop breastfeeding when mom is ill.

By breastfeeding baby, mom is ensuring that baby will be less likely to get the infection that she has since the breastmilk contains the illness’s antibodies.

There is also no reason to stop breastfeeding due to an infection in the breast, such as mastitis. Nursing baby will help clear the infection faster, and there are breastfeeding-safe antibiotics.

 

Myth #9: If baby is latched correctly, breastfeeding won’t hurt.

Truth: If the baby is latched correctly, it should not hurt.

It is, however, common for new mothers to feel tugs and pulls and some pressure as the baby latches on and begins feeding and milk has let down.

According to Breastfeeding and Human Lactation, “Nipple pain is a common post-partum breastfeeding concern and a major contributing factor to early discontinuation of breastfeeding, so it is not something any mother or lactation assistant should ignore!”

Nipple soreness is broadly broken into two categories: transient nipple soreness, which usually occurs in the first week, lasting 20 to 30 seconds, and then subsides; and prolonged, abnormal nipple pain, which is most often a symptom of how baby is latching or sucking. Often times, this can be corrected by changing feeding positions.

If mom is unable to correct a painful latch on her own, she shouldn’t be discouraged and ignore the pain or “grin and bear it”—she should seek help from an IBCLC for assessment and suggestions.

 

Myth #10: I’ve already started supplementing. There is no way to get baby back exclusively on breastmilk or to boost my breastmilk supply.

Truth: The very best strategy for this mom is to consult one of the local IBCLCs. The lactation consultant will discuss with mom the reason(s) she began supplementing and develop a plan for boosting her milk supply.

It’s important for mother to remember that, after the first week of breastfeeding, milk production is linked to milk removal. So a good place to begin is to increase the number of times each day mother is removing milk; this often involves adding pumping or hand expression between feeding the baby at least 4 or 5 times daily (and ideally at least once at night).

During a consultation, the IBCLC can also discuss with mother herbal and prescription medications that may help improve her milk supply.

 

Answers from: Elisabeth Mouery, Cathy Dickey, Kim Adams, Staci Hill, Anna Faucett—all La Leche League Leaders serving the Springfield area, and the Greater Ozarks Breastfeeding Coalition.

Whether you are in need of breastmilk or have an overabundance of your own, consider breastmilk donation.

For more information: Contact the Greater Ozarks Regional Mothers’ Milk Depot by phone at (417) 851-1555 or Heart of America Mothers’ Milk Bank in Kansas City at (816) 932-4888 or via email at kcmilkbank@saint-lukes.org

Informal donation: Check out the Facebook group Human Milk 4 Human Babies—Missouri. Mothers from around the state in need of breastmilk can seek donations, and mothers with milk to donate can make known what they have to offer.

Support Groups

Despite latching and milk supply issues to sore nipples and disapproval from family and friends, breastfeeding is an invaluable experience for any mom and child that deserves respect and support.

If you need outside support throughout your breastfeeding journey, consider these local resources:

 

Greene County

Café Bebe

Sponsored by Springfield-Greene County WIC

For: Any pregnant or breastfeeding moms in Greene County

Date: Second Wednesday of each month

Time: 1 p.m.

Where: Springfield-Greene County WIC Office, 440 E. Tampa St.

Website: health.springfieldmo.gov

Phone: (417) 838-9992

Healthy Generations Mothers’ Group

Sponsored by the Springfield-Greene County Health Department

For: New/expectant moms, their significant others, grandmothers, etc.

Date: Third Thursday of each month

Time: 6 to 7 p.m.

Where: Library Station, 2535 N. Kansas Expressway

Website: health.springfieldmo.gov

Phone: (417) 864-1496

Breastfeeding Support

Sponsored by La Leche League of Springfield

For: Pregnant and breastfeeding moms

Date: Second Monday of each month; fourth Wednesday of each month

Time: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.; 10 a.m. to noon, respectively

Where: Library Center, 4653 S. Campbell Ave.; Library Station, 2535 N. Kansas Expressway, respectively

Website: lllofspringfieldmo.wordpress.com

Breastfeeding Café

Sponsored by La Leche League of Springfield

For: Pregnant and breastfeeding moms

Date: First Tuesday of each month

Time: 9:30 a.m.

Where: Panera Bread, 500 S. National Ave.

Website: lllofspringfieldmo.wordpress.com

Christian County

Breastfeeding Support Group

Sponsored by Christian County WIC

For: Pregnant and breastfeeding moms

Dates: September 9, December 2

Time: 3 to 4 p.m.

Where: Christina County Health Department, 301 E. Brick St., Ozark

Website: www.christiancountyhealth.com

Phone: (417) 581-2385

 

Taney County

Mother-to-mother Breastfeeding Support Group

Sponsored by Taney County WIC

For: Pregnant breastfeeding moms

Date: Second Tuesday of each month

Time: 1 p.m.

Where: Taney County Health Department – Branson location, 320 Rhinehart Road,

Lower level conference room

Website: www.taneycohealth.org/breastfeedingsupport.php

Phone: (417) 334-4544

 

About author:

Kandice Matteson is the Advertising & Editorial Director and Co-Publisher of From Our Nest magazine, residing in Ozark with her husband, two daughters and two dogs. With a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and a Master’s in rhetoric, Matteson spends almost as much time dissecting the meanings and motives behind language and composition as she does watching Frozen with her two daughters. She's a quasi-crunchy mama who cherishes children and loves to share knowledge and information with all that will let her.

View all posts by Kandice Matteson
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