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 hard.
Any mother who is experiencing breastfeeding difficulty should seek help early. Most breastfeeding difficulties can be resolved if problems are addressed quickly. Sharp hospitals offer pre-birth breastfeeding classes as well as weekly breastfeeding support groups. At Sharp Grossmont Hospital, these groups are facilitated by lactation consultants. The groups are free to the community.
Sharp also provides the New Beginnings guide for all new mothers and the Sharp Baby mobile app. The New Beginnings guide has a large section on breastfeeding and an extensive resource list. Sharp HealthCare lactation departments have phone lines specifically designed to answer breastfeeding questions.
2. It's hard to know if my baby is getting enough to eat.
If a newborn is nursing at least eight to 12 times in 24 hours, and is alert, bright-eyed and generally content after a feeding, then he or she is getting enough breastmilk. 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 each week. A weight check is available at all Sharp Hospital breastfeeding support groups and may give a mother the needed confidence to know her baby is getting enough breastmilk
3. If I'm going back to work right away, I shouldn't bother trying to breastfeed.
Exclusive breastmilk is definitely still an option. 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 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. It is best to avoid alcohol consumption.
5. My husband or 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 the baby or wearing the baby in a sling.
Learn more about pregnancy and childbirth classes and support groups at Sharp.