I “met” (I say it in quotes because she hasn’t moved to Tennessee to be my bestie yet, and I’ve only met her online) Aryn back when I was newly pregnant with Sawyer. I believe I first ran across her and her blog through a Blogging Support Group on Facebook. When I found out that she was a Certified Lactation Counselor, I immediately knew that I wanted to collaborate with her. After finding out I was pregnant with Sawyer, I planned on starting a small breastfeeding series here on the blog. This is the first post of that series– 7 Breastfeeding Myths DEBUNKED by a Certified Lactation Counselor.
My experience breastfeeding Grayson was honestly horrible, and I know that a big reason for that was not having the right kind of support. After trying to seek help from my fellow Moms, I was actually shamed in various Facebook groups for not being able to, and I gave up very very early.
Had I sought out professional help, from someone like Aryn, I know I wouldn’t have given up so easily. After giving birth to Sawyer, I immediately contacted her (pretty sure it was that first night at like 4:00AM–sorry, Aryn) because I knew that I wanted her to help me. The advice she was able to provide was amazing and so helpful. Below are some very common breastfeeding myths, and Aryn debunking them like the badass she is.
1. It’s supposed to hurt
What? No! If breastfeeding was supposed to hurt, I’m not sure anyone would choose it. Here’s the thing, nipples are sensitive and yes, having a baby suck on them (especially for the first time) might feel a little strange. It is normal in the early days and weeks, to have some discomfort, for the first 30 or so seconds of a latch. You may also have some soreness in the breast, from swelling and engorgement. But, if you are having pain for the entire length of a feeding, bruising, cracking, bleeding or dreading a feed because of the pain. That is not normal, please reach out for help. A visit with a lactation professional can help you work on achieving a deep latch, make sure there are no physical restrictions, and get you feeding comfortably.
If pumping is uncomfortable, there are fixes for that too! Making sure your Flanges fit correctly can make all the difference. You also want to check your pump settings and make sure the suction isn’t too high
2. Breastfeeding Comes Naturally
Except when it doesn’t, right? Yes, breastfeeding is one of the most natural things that you can do. But so is walking and talking, and those are skills we have to learn. You and your new baby are going to need some time to learn each other, and to learn how breastfeeding works for you. Reach out for help if you feel you need it, there are people who want to be there for you. And give yourself grace, its perfectly okay if it takes some time to figure out what works best for you and your baby. There’s no wrong way to learn how to breastfeed
3. Breastfeeding melts the baby weight off
Can you imagine my surprise when I actually gained weight, while breastfeeding?? And then I learned that this is one of those things that happens for some mothers and doesn’t for others. It probably has more to do with that particular mothers metabolism, than it does actually breastfeeding. It is true that breastfeeding burns about 300-500 calories daily, so your body is working extra hard. But if the weight doesn’t fall off effortlessly, its not anything you’re doing wrong. And just a reminder mama, your body has created and is nourishing life, it may be different than it was before, but its still beautiful and capable
4. Exclusively Pumping is not Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is a descriptor for how many feed their babies their milk, but that doesn’t mean expressed human milk in a cup, syringe or bottle is not the same. It is still your milk mama. You can still call yourself a breastfeeding mom. Your baby is still getting the benefits of having milk that is perfectly tailored to their needs. And exclusive pumping is hard work, so kudos to you!
Note from Brandi: I totally think that Aryn put this one in here for me, but it’s TRUE! Exclusively Pumping IS breastfeeding, and don’t ever let anyone tell you that it’s not! I am working on some tips for exclusively pumping mamas, and I will share that soon.
I have been exclusively pumping with my Spectra S2 Breast Pump for almost three months now, and it’s been such a lifesaver for me. Obsessed.
5. Breastfeeding rules your diet
The only special diet the average breastfeeding mom needs, is a well balanced one. Breastmilk is made similarly to our blood, which means most of what we take in is filtered through our systems, before it gets to our babies. Eat when you’re hungry, and eat what you enjoy. Making milk takes calories, and having a snack handy while you’re feeding your baby is always a good idea. I like having one handed, nutrient dense foods on hand, things like cheese sticks, avocado, nuts meat sticks or my favorite fruits and veggies. I’ll add to this, in normal situations, you don’t need any supplements or special foods to make milk. Your regular balanced diet, staying hydrated, and your prenatal vitamin is all you need to make milk. Lactation specific supplements, cookies, bars, or drinks may be helpful for some mothers, and while there is usually no harm in them (I love a good lactation bar or cookie) I wouldn’t want you to think they are something required for successful breastfeeding.
There are some instances where a baby may have an intolerance to something in a mothers diet, and those moms should work with their pediatrician and lactation professionals to work on a plan that keeps them and their baby healthy. Same goes for a mother who feels her milk supply is not adequate, working with her dr and lactation professional for a plan and recommendations would be best.
6. My mom, sister, or cousin struggled with breastfeeding, so I will too.
Breastfeeding success isn’t really genetic. Just like pregnancy, and really life, your experiences will probably all be different! I learned that kind of the hard way with my first. My mom had 5 breastfed babies and not one struggle, she was probably an exception to the rule, and breastfeeding really did come very naturally to her and her babies. I reeaaalllly struggled in the beginning with my first, a complete opposite experience! We had to work and learn at breastfeeding, it didn’t come so natural to us. My sister that is in the picture with me below, also struggled breastfeeding her first.
Birth stories, support, a baby’s personality, confidence levels, life situations….so many things can factor in to a breastfeeding journey. So please don’t think just because someone close to you struggled, means that you will. Same could be said for each of your babies, each baby and experience is different and breastfeeding not working with one child, doesn’t mean you won’t have success if you try again
A small amount of moms experience struggles are related to genetics, and if issues arise, they can be addressed and a plan can be made to meet whatever breastfeeding goals that mom has.
7. You have to use cradle hold, it’s the “right” way
Once I worked with a mom who had pain with latching. She told me that she had been breastfeeding comfortably, when someone told her she was holding her baby “wrong” so she changed positioning and that’s when the pain started. We quickly fixed that, by simply going back to the way mama liked it to start with.
Whatever position works best for you and your baby is the only right way! I find football and laid back “biological” positioning to be most comfortable with my newborns and then we move to cross cradle as they get older. Side lying, is always my most favorite! You find what works for you!
Aryn is a mom to two sweet littles, Kallen and Cora, and she lives with her husband in the Midwest. She’s passionate about mothers supporting one another during every season of life– especially post partum. And I just absolutely adore her, she’s like my soul sister. If you would like to visit her blog, With Cream and Sugar (she blogs a lot about Motherhood, Mental Health, and Breastfeeding Support), and follow her on Instagram, you can be her new friend too!