Breastfeeding Myths vs. Facts: Your questions answered
World Breastfeeding Week (Aug 1-7) is just around the corner, a global awareness campaign which reminds us that we all have a role to play in protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding. This year, #WBW2023 is focused on creating breastfeeding-friendly workplaces, and highlighting the importance of paid leave and workplace support for new parents.
If you’re an expecting mum, the whole idea of breastfeeding might seem daunting. Especially with a sea of misinformation out there - from your friend that swears your small boobs won't make enough milk to the well-meaning ladies at the supermarket who insist exercise makes your milk sour (what the…?)
In celebration of WBW, we’ve separated the old wives' tales from the science to give your bub (and boobs) the best start.
Myth: Breastfeeding is easy
Those mamas on Instagram make it look so easy – but unfortunately, low or oversupply, cracked nipples, and mastitis are common challenges on the breastfeeding journey. Be prepared with New Beginnings Nipple Shields at the ready, to help with latching and inverted nipples making for a pain-free breastfeeding experience. And if that doesn’t work out? Fed is best, always. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, you can contact the Australian Breastfeeding Association Helpline for guidance and support.
Fact: Most babies naturally know how to feed
Newborn babies have a natural sucking reflex that helps them find the nipple and latch, literally seconds after birth. It's incredible how their little instincts kick in!
Myth: You can’t use formula if you want to breastfeed
Are you desperate to give your nips a breather, but have heard mixing feeds might cause your baby to go off the boob altogether? Although “nipple confusion” is possible, bub will likely be fine to switch between the two. Opting for a bottle with a slow-flowing teat, taking frequent breaks during feeding, and holding the bottle at a slight angle instead of straight up (so they have to work for it a little) are all great options to help minimise the likelihood of any issues with this transition.
Fact: Breast Milk is the perfect food
Even better than a superfood smoothie, your homegrown milk is packed with all the essential nutrients, enzymes and hormones your baby needs to thrive. (But don’t feel bad if you go for formula – it’s still a healthy choice with loads of goodness).
Myth: You can’t breastfeed if you’re sick
You might feel rubbish, but it’s perfectly safe to continue feeding through common illnesses, like the cold, flu, or stomach bug. Just make sure to flag it with your doctor or pharmacist that you’re feeding if you need some meds.
Fact: Breastfeeding can keep your baby healthy
Breast Milk is an antibody powerhouse, helping boost your baby's immune system and stave off infections, allergies and illnesses. Even more impressive, the exact cocktail is tailored to your exposure to pathogens in your environment, giving your bub protection to what it needs most.
Myth: Exercise will make your milk sour
There’s zero evidence for this one – so go forth and sweat it out (provided you’ve got your doctor's okay).
Fact: There are health benefits for you, too
Bonus: breastfeeding can reduce your risk of breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Plus, it burns around 500 calories daily.
Myth: Breastfeeding makes your boobs sag
Nope – it's actually pregnancy that causes changes in size and shape, with factors like multiple pregnancies, pre-pregnancy bra size, and even smoking coming into play. Your boobs may feel a little deflated right after you stop breastfeeding, but in the following months, fatty tissue will gradually replace the milk-producing tissue and pump them back up.
Fact: Size doesn’t matter
Whether you have big boobs or are a card-carrying member of the itty bitty titty committee, your body will likely produce precisely what your little one needs. It’s all down to your hormonal signals and the demand from your baby (more feeds = more milk) that influence milk production.
Need some help on your breastfeeding journey? Our New Beginnings breastfeeding collection has got you covered, from Aqua Gel Breast Pads to help cool sore nipples to Hot and Cold Packs to soothe mastitis.
If you’re finding yourself Googling everything from boobs and bums to bubs and bibs, our other blogs offer more tips for navigating this new chapter of your life - mummahood.