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5 common myths about breastfeeding

By The Health News Team | August 4, 2021
5 common myths about breastfeeding

When it comes to your newborn, studies have shown breastfeeding to be the best choice for mother and baby. Jennifer Valenzuela, RN, IBCLC, at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, responds to five common myths about breastfeeding to help new parents.

1. Breastfeeding is too hard.

Any mother who is experiencing breastfeeding difficulty should seek help early, even before leaving the hospital. Most breastfeeding difficulties can be resolved if addressed quickly. Sharp hospitals offer pre-birth breastfeeding classes as well as weekly breastfeeding support groups. At Sharp Grossmont Hospital, lactation consultants facilitate these groups, which are free to the community. In addition, during your hospital stay, board-certified lactation nurses are on hand to help moms with tips and techniques for successful breastfeeding.

Sharp also provides the New Beginnings Resource Guide to all new mothers. The guide has a large section on breastfeeding and an extensive resource list. Additionally, Sharp HealthCare lactation departments have phone lines dedicated to answering breastfeeding questions.

2. It's hard to know if my baby is getting enough to eat.

If a newborn is nursing at least 8 or more times in 24 hours, and is generally content after a feeding, then the baby is likely getting enough breastmilk. One way to determine effective milk transfer is by listening to swallow sounds. The number of sounds should begin to increase daily, and by 3 to 5 days, the ratio should be 1 to 3 sucks per swallow. In addition, the number of wet diapers and stools appropriate for a newborn may be a good indicator. But it can be difficult to tell just how much a baby is receiving as breastfeeding is becoming established.

After an initial weight loss during the first few days after birth, infants will begin to gain weight. Baby should get back to their birth weight within 10 to 14 days.

3. If I'm going back to work, I shouldn't bother trying to breastfeed.

Exclusive breastmilk is definitely still an option and encouraged when possible. Many mothers continue to breastfeed when returning to work. It takes some extra time, but it is possible for a mother to pump and a caregiver to provide mother's expressed breastmilk in a bottle while she is at work. California law requires employers to provide a reasonable amount of break time and make a reasonable effort to provide a private space for employees to express breastmilk.

4. I can only eat certain foods while breastfeeding.

All mothers should eat a variety of healthy foods to promote good maternal health. Rarely, a baby may react to something a mother eats. If this happens consistently, avoid that particular food. But the majority of babies can tolerate the majority of foods. "Everything in moderation" is a good motto. You may even consider restarting a food you've avoided for a couple of weeks; it may not bother the baby then. Mothers may drink fluids to satisfy thirst, but there is no need to force fluids.

5. My partner can't participate in breastfeeding.

Support is vital to breastfeeding success. Make sure that partners and other family members are aware of the risks of not breastfeeding. A partner's encouragement can help mothers overcome challenges that may occur in establishing breastfeeding. Non-breastfeeding parents may enjoy skin-to-skin time with their baby or wear the baby in a sling. Sometimes it's just their presence that's comforting, or a kind act can turn a stressful situation into a relaxing experience.

Learn more about pregnancy and childbirth classes and support groups at Sharp.

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