By Dr Mike Marinus, dad to Megan and James plus a Chiropractor in Blairgowrie with a special interest in family practice and paediatric care. Click here to hear his podcast. This is the 7th in our series on babies by Dr Marinus. Find his other articles here.
I was fortunate enough to get ‘The Baby Lady’ Samantha Crompton on episode 7 of The Easy Baby Podcast to talk about the big myths surrounding breastfeeding.
And the biggest secret to Breastfeeding… According to Sam its: “Manage your expectations and do it one step at a time.” Finding out that the World Health Organization says babies should be breastfed for 2 years can be pretty overwhelming in week 1. Take it day by day, say: “I want to breastfeed my baby for 2 weeks” when you’ve reached that goal aim for 6 then 12 and once you hit 6 months you’ll more than likely do a year at least.
Myth 1: “The first milk is not enough, I need to top up until my milk comes in”
The initial milk of breastfeeding mothers is called Colostrum, (also known as nature’s first vaccine) it is measurable in teaspoons (5mls) and it is the only food a healthy full term baby needs. On day 1 your baby’s stomach is approximately the size of a marble so the minimal looking amount of colostrum you provide is exactly the right amount and doesn’t stretch baby’s stomach walls. It is easily digestible and helps baby pass early stools. As your baby’s tummy gets bigger, your mature milk supply increases accordingly. Colostrum also creates a protective lining on baby’s intestine which is sloughed away by using formula.
Breastfeeding may cause some nipple discomfort but it shouldn’t be painful. The discomfort usually peaks around 3 days and is gone at 2 weeks. It shouldn’t last for longer than 30 seconds after latching and there should be no skin damage (no cracks, blisters or bleeding). Your nipple should look the same after feeding, not flattened, creased, pinched or blanched. Going through pain that has you backing away from your baby during feeds is not normal, don’t try to ‘power through’, you need to get help to continue with a positive breastfeeding relationship.
Myth 3: “My baby feeds all the time, I have too little milk or it’s not good enough”
Most newborns nurse 8 to 12 times a day because they have small stomachs and breastmilk is easily and quickly digested. Look out for growth spurts (frequency days) which generally last for 2 to 3 days during which your baby will feed more frequently than usual. This doesn’t mean your milk isn’t cutting it, it means your baby is creating more milk supply by creating more demand. Watch out for these around 2, 3, 6, 12 and 16 weeks. Many moms fall into the trap of supplementing with formula at these times to satiate baby but this takes away your baby’s ability to increase your supply
Myth 4: Pumping is a good way to see how much milk I have”
Pumping is a good way to see how much milk you can pump! A baby that breastfeeds well can get more milk out of a breast than any pump. This is why it is not unusual to have to pump 2 or 3 times to have enough milk for only 1 feed. It doesn’t necessarily mean your supply is low. If you are using a pump make sure you’ve got the right one for your stage of nursing and note that it is almost impossible to pump colostrum with a plastic pump because there is so little of it. Make sure the flange on the pump is the right size.
Myth 5: “Formula fed babies sleep better”
Formula is harder to digest than breastmilk, so babies tend do to go for longer between feeds. The thought is then that babies are sleeping better this is not necessarily the case, what we want is quality versus quantity. Research shows that after 4 weeks there is no difference between breastfed and formula fed babies when it comes to quality and quantity of sleep. Physiologically speaking breastfed moms sleep tends to be better.
For more myths, listen to the full episode in the link above.