Don't believe everything you hear!
In the studio, I’ve had hundreds of new mummies come to me to for their newborn photos and tell me some insane, ludicrous claptrap about breastfeeding. I am here to separate myth from reality.
Myth Number 1: Breastfed babies only feed 10 mins per side
The reality is quite different. Brand new babies (under three months old) will take up to a minimum of 45 minutes per boob to fully drain the breast. This is because their mouths and muscles are undeveloped. As the baby gets older, their muscle strength increases and they become much more efficient at draining the breast quickly. For example, a six-month-old can have a full feed of 15 minutes per side.
Myth Number 2: If your baby cluster feeds, you aren’t producing enough milk
What a load of nonsense! Cluster feeding is an on-off, on-off snacking feeding style that most babies will do in the late afternoon to late evening, or when they are going through a growth spurt. Cluster feeding is a natural, normal way for your baby to get the nutrition and comfort they are craving. By feeding this way, your baby helps you increase your milk supply which, as they grow, will need to increase. You want your baby to feed as much as possible, for as long as possible in those first three months.
Myth Number 3: Breastfed babies can’t sleep through the night
Nobody told that to my child! She was sleeping through the night (7-8 hours) from four weeks old! Sleeping through the night is to do with how long your baby can sustain themselves which is to do with 1) their weight and 2) how long it takes for them to burn off their feed. For example, a 6lb baby will not be able to sustain themselves as long as a 10lb baby.
Myth Number 4: Breastfed babies don’t gain as much weight as bottle fed babies
Generally, breastfed babies will initially lose more weight than bottle fed babies in their first week due to the fact that mum's milk is coming in. But they are still getting the colostrum milk (thick, yellow first milk) which is giving them all the goodness they need. These babies very quickly catch up, however, and gain weight appropriately for their genetics. Breast milk is a dynamic and ever-changing food composed of the exact nutrition a baby needs at that stage, whereas formula is a ‘one size fits all’ option.
Myth Number 5: You can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding
My grandmother believed this old wives tale, and now my Dad and his brother are only 11 months apart. If you think about that…. she got pregnant when she had a six-week-old baby! And yes, she was breastfeeding. Make of that what you will!
Myth Number 6: Breastfed babies don’t get as full
Have you ever drunk two litres of water all in one go? Did you feel full? Babies feeling full (or not) on breast milk has everything to do with fully draining the boob to get the cream on the top of your milk ‘jugs’ … or not. If your baby is hungry an hour after you’ve fed her, then she hasn’t fully successfully drained ‘the girls’! In which case, your baby needs to stay awake and feed for a minimum of 45 minutes.
Myth Number 7: It’s normal for breastfeeding to hurt
This isn’t totally true. It is certainly common for breastfeeding to be painful in the first and second weeks. This is because your delicate lady nipples are getting used to being heavy duty mummy nipples! There is usually an element of chafing/friction that you’ve never experienced before which often passes after a few weeks so it is worth persevering. However, if it is painful for longer than that, there is something else going on here. Go to our Common Problems and Solutions section to get some ideas on what to do.
But most of all, enjoy the cuddles you get when breastfeeding because it won't be long before they are off running around wanting to explore the world, leaving Mummy behind. Don't let anyone put pressure on you to finish or stop before you are both ready, I cried when my daughter weaned and trust me so will you. Enjoy the little things now.