Breastfeeding: Myth vs. Reality

Breastfeeding is one of the most studied, and talked about topics when it comes to motherhood and for good reason! Whether you are planning on breastfeeding your baby exclusively, supplementing in formula, or just formula it is fun to educate yourself on myth vs. reality when it comes to the topic of breastfeeding. Chances are you have heard stories about what it should or should not feel like, how long your baby should feed for, or even what it can do to your body. I wanted to touch on just a few of the ever so popular chatter about this popular topic, and maybe it can help clear the air a bit!

Myth #1: Bottle Feeding Is Easier Than Breastfeeding

I have personally lived this, and know for a fact that in reality the breast is easier. When my son was first born, he was having a problem latching and I thought I was going to have to pump exclusively in order to feed him. I figured, hey bottle feeding is easier anyways!  Please note: For me personally, I was committed to breastmilk but everyone is different and their situations are different!  I spent the first two weeks pumping every 2 hours, and giving my baby a bottle full of breastmilk and let me tell you it was tough work. Cleaning the pump parts, bottles, and finding a place to pump was just the beginning. I invested in a car outlet, and a battery pack all while lugging my pump everywhere with me. I lost my freedom, and I did not even feel like I was bonding with my child through feeding.

There came a time when I kept practicing, and he figured out the latch better! I slowly migrated over to just breastfeeding and it made my life a lot easier despite what I thought before. No more lugging my pump around, engorged breasts, and cleaning an endless amount of bottle and pump parts! The breastmilk is always the right temperature, so no more bottle warmers and fear of cold milk if I am out and about without it. There are perks to bottle feeding though, so don’t get me wrong! It is great to do once in awhile, and it also gives you a bit more freedom if you need to be away from baby.

Myth #2: It Shouldn’t Hurt At All

If I had a dime for every time someone told me, “If it hurts you are doing it wrong” I would be rich! The reality is, it actually does hurt at first because your body is not used to the routine yet. A shallow latch, and virgin nipples are a recipe for a sore and uncomfortable experience out of the gates. This may not be the case for everyone, but it sure was for me! After about two weeks you will get the hang of it, and the soreness should subside! I still feel sore the first few sucks, but it goes away gradually throughout the feed. I hope this doesn’t scare you, or discourage you because there is a light at the end of the tunnel. To start your breastfeeding experience with the idea that it should not hurt at all, just messes with your mind and makes you feel like you are the problem.

Myth #3: Formula Can Be The Same As Breastmilk

No, it just isn’t. That’s reality, but it doesn’t mean formula fed babies are inferior to the breast fed babies! There have been so many different studies done on the power of breastmilk vs. formula but please note it is perfectly OK if you formula feed your little one. There are no psychological differences between a breastfed baby and a formula fed baby, nor are there traces of emotional attachment issues with formula fed babies! Now that we are clear on that, let’s take a look at the components of breastmilk:  

According to a study done by NCBI, “The composition of human milk is the biologic norm for infant nutrition. Human milk also contains many hundreds to thousands of distinct bioactive molecules that protect against infection and inflammation and contribute to immune maturation, organ development, and healthy microbial colonization. Some of these molecules, e.g., lactoferrin, are being investigated as novel therapeutic agents.” [1]

The Nutrients In Breastmilk

According to Infant Nutrition Council Breastmilk Contains:

  • “Free water
  • Proteins – Protein accounts for 75% of the nitrogen-containing compounds and the non-protein nitrogen substances include urea, nucleotides, peptides, free amino acids and DNA.
  • Fats – Essential fatty acids and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Carbohydrates – The principal carbohydrate of human milk is lactose.
  • Minerals, vitamins, and trace elements.
  • Secretory IgA – Predominant immunoglobulin in breast milk
  • Bioactive cytokines – Including transforming growth factor-b (TGF-b) 1 and 2 and interleukin-10 (IL-10)]
  • Others – leukocytes, oligosaccharides, lysozyme, lactoferrin, adiponectin, interferon-g, epidermal growth factor (EGF) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1.” [2]

Myth #4: New Moms Don’t Make Enough Milk

A new mom’s milk will come in 3-5 days after giving birth, but in the meantime a woman's body produces colostrum. This small amount of colostrum will be enough for the baby in the days leading up to milk production. One or even two teaspoons per feeding is enough for the baby in the early days, because colostrum is very fatty and nutrient filled. So in short, moms DO make enough milk in the beginning.

 I hope I cleared up some of these myths with a little reality. If you are about to embark on the exciting journey of breastfeeding your little one, or have gone through it before comment below! If you know of any other myths, feel free to fill us in...




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