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 Episode 187 3 Breastfeeding Myths

This episode I am going to tackle some of the breastfeeding myths that I commonly hear. There is still so much bad information out there. It is old, old, old, so outdated, I have trouble figuring out why bad information continues to be passed down from one generation to the next, from one physician to the next, from one textbook to the next. I have seen breastfeeding relationships jeopardized because of bad information. I have seen breastfeeding relationships severed because of bad information.

Crazy, Insane Myth #1

Only feed your baby every 3 hours. Your breasts need this amount of time to refill.

I want you to memorize these 5 words. They are very important for you to tell yourself, to believe and to tell anyone else who tells you anything different.

THE. BREAST. IS. NEVER. EMPTY.
THE. BREAST. IS. NEVER. EMPTY.
THE. BREAST. IS. NEVER. EMPTY.

The FACT is – that as your baby removes milk from the breast, this sends a strong signal to the breast to make more milk. The less time in between milk removals, the more milk you will make. The longer time in between milk removals, the less milk you will make. A healthy newborn will give signs when they are hungry and more often then not, they will show hunger cues much more frequently then the Every 3 hours that moms are advised. When you follow the every 3 hour rule, you are letting your baby go hungry and thirsty and you are literally telling your body to make less milk than your baby needs. The early days of newborn breastfeeding and mothering are about you trying to learn about your baby. IF you are still inclined to follow someone else because you deem them an expert in breastfeeding, at least ask this person to show you the research that says your breasts need 3 hours to refill. I can guarantee you, they will not be able to find this.

Crazy Insane Myth # 2

Your baby will get all the milk they need from the first 10 minutes of breastfeeding. While this might be true for a small percentage of newborns, this is not the case for most newborns. This is BAD, BAD, BAD information to give to every new mother and has a huge potential to mess up what might have been a wonderful breastfeeding relationship. I would like for you to do this: Next time you are eating a meal with someone, I want you to both stop eating in 10 minutes and take away your whole meal. If there is any more food on your plate, tough luck. No eating anything else and no drinking anything else. And try doing that for a full 3 hours. No food or drink for 3 more hours. It will easily become clear to you, if it was not before, that adults take different amounts of time to eat their meal. Even if it is the same volume of food on your plate. It takes different amounts of time to drink your 8 oz glass of water. You are both adults and you don’t want anyone putting a clock on your time frame for eating a meal. Believe me, neither does your baby. If we don’t follow such a rigid eating routine, why would we expect our babies too? What if your baby doesn’t take a full meal in 10 minutes? And you consistently remove them from the breast in 10 minutes?

This sends a very strong message to your breasts that they don’t need to make anymore milk than what the baby has removed. Regularly following this routine and soon enough you won’t be making enough milk to meet your babies needs. They will be cranky because they are not getting full bellies or fully hydrated. When you think about, it does make common sense to allow your baby to continue breastfeeding until they give you signs of satiation, a full belly. IF you are still inclined to follow someone elses instructions because you deem them an expert in breastfeeding, at least ask this person to show you the research that says your baby gets all the milk they need in 10 minutes. I can guarantee you, they will not be able to find this.

Crazy Insane Myth #3

If your baby is not gaining appropriately, you are told by your baby’s physician that you need to supplement breastfeedings with formula. This one drives me insane!!!!

If your baby is not gaining appropriately, the first thing you need to do is find out why your baby is not gaining as they should. Has your baby’s physician provided you with a full breastfeeding consult to determine where the problem lies? The reason I ask this is because it is a major, very major, very big deal to start giving your baby formula in a bottle, particularly if they don’t need it.

When I have conversations with physicians about this subject, I will ask them how they know that this baby needs formula in a bottle? Why not breastmilk in a bottle?

The answer I usually get is that the baby needs formula because obviously the mother is not making enough milk. When I ask the physician how they know the mom is not making enough milk, the usual answer is: Well, if she was making enough milk, her baby would be gaining properly.

This is so WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

I have had many, yes many consults with moms who are making plenty of milk, and yet their babies are not gaining well. It is my job to provide a full evaluation to find out why her baby is not gaining. The reasons can be numerous. I won’t know until I spend a feeding session with mom and baby, however, the most common reasons are: poor milk transfer. meaning, mom has enough milk, baby is spending time at the breast, but not necessarily doing a good job of transferring the milk from the breast to it’s mouth. Their are many reasons why this is happening, but never the less, this is a very common problem.

Another common reason is that moms are only allowing their babies to feed every 3 hours and they just cannot get enough volume in 1 day to gain weight, with such restrictions. Another common reason is that moms are only allowing their babies to feed for 10 minutes each time. With this kind of restriction, babies cannot get enough volume in 1 day to gain weight. One other very common reason babies who have moms who have plenty of milk, and yet they are not gaining well, is because they are only allowing their baby to feed from one breast per feeding session. For lots of babies, this is like only getting half a meal. And if you are practicing all 3 of these restrictions.meaning.. you are only feeding your baby every 3 hours, limiting them to 10 minutes each time and only offering 1 breast per feeding- you have what I call the Trifecta for messing up breastfeeding.

There are quite a few other reasons that the mom can have enough milk, but her baby still isn’t gaining appropriately and gosh darn it. I want to figure out why, before you begin offering a food that you wanted to avoid.

First figure out where the problem lies and then figure out how to fix it. When all is said and done, if your baby still cannot get enough breastmilk directly from you, but you have the volume, the first choice is to pump and put your milk in a bottle.

If it is determined that you are not making enough milk for your baby, then you will want to consider donated human milk as your first choice. If this is not an option, the next option is some kind of formula. Moms may not like to do this, but your baby absolutely needs to get enough calories and hydration every single feeding, in order to gain well.

In my daily practice there are way too many babies being quickly supplemented with formula when this is not what was needed. I believe all babies that are not gaining well and cannot get enough directly from the breast, should absolutely be supplemented. I just want to do some investigating first to rule out any other issues and to do what most breastfeeding mothers plead with me to do… avoid formula if at all possible.

I believe that when you are faced with the decision to supplement your baby, you really should have an IBCLC as part of your health care team, working alongside your babies physician to ensure that all parts of this challenge are being considered and the appropriate actions are taken. We all want is best for you and your baby. For the breastfeeding mom, we want to ensure we do all we can to make sure you are building and/or maintaining your supply as well as ensure that your baby is a well fed baby who is gaining appropriately, while we work on solving this problem.

There you have it – 3 MYTHS that I commonly hear

1. Only feed your baby every 3 hours
2. Your baby will get enough milk in the first 10 minutes
3. If your baby is not gaining well, they need to automatically be supplemented with formula.

Lori J. Isenstadt, IBCLC

Lori j Isenstadt, IBCLCLori Jill Isenstadt, IBCLC is a huge breastfeeding supporter.  She has spent much  of her adult life working in the maternal health field. Once she became turned on to birth and became a childbirth educator, there was no stopping her love of working with families during their childbearing years.  Lori became a Birth doula and a Postpartum doula and soon became a lactation consultant.  She has been helping moms and babies with breastfeeding for over 25 years.  Lori founded her private practice, All About Breastfeeding where she meets with moms one on one to help solve their breastfeeding challenges.  She is an international speaker, book author and the host of the  popular itunes podcast, All About Breastfeeding, the place where the girls hang out.  You can reach Lori by email at: [email protected] or contact her via her website:  allaboutbreastfeeding.biz/contact

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