It’s time to sort fact from fiction, and set the record straight. There are some myths on breastfeeding that may be discouraging moms from reaching the goal of exclusively breastfeeding for six months, and it “may affect whether they start and continue breastfeeding their infants,” said Dr. Maya Bunik, an executive committee member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) Section on Breastfeeding, in an article on the AAP's website.
We need to be wary of the following notions: 1. “I shouldn’t breastfeed after coming home from work. I’m too exhausted and the stress will pass on to my baby.” Wouldn't you like to hold your baby close after a long day? Reassured Joyce Martinez, a registered nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), “stress is not passed on to the baby [through breastfeeding]. Breastfeeding ensures that your baby will have a healthy, nutritious ‘meal.’”
2. “My newborn is losing weight, which means my breast milk isn't enough.” It's always wise to check with a doctor for any concerns about your baby, but don't be discouraged from breastfeeding just yet, mom. “Immediately after birth, infants lose approximately 10% of their body weight because of fluid loss and some breakdown of tissue. They usually regain their birth weight within seven days,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
If the amount of breast milk you express is your concern, Dr. Bunik reassured new moms that newborns with their tiny stomachs don’t need a lot. “Babies start out nursing as little as 1 ounce each feeding,” she said. “When choosing bottle sizes, I recommend parents opt out of the 8 ounce sizes and stick with 4 ounces. Most adults would be satisfied with 4 ounces of whole milk, and 8 ounces would be overfilling at one sitting.” (To get an idea of our baby's stomach capacity, click here.)
3. “Herbal supplements like malunggay and lactation goodies are enough to increase milk supply.” “Evidence about the effectiveness of lactation supplements such as fenugreek and other herbs is mixed,” said Dr. Bunik. “My main concern is when mothers rely on these substances, known as galactogues, rather than doing the minimum of six pumping sessions every 24 hours recommended to maintain a healthy milk supply or talking with their doctor about concerns.”
The real secret to a good milk supply is dedication and perseverance — trying, trying, and trying again — from the very beginning. “The first six weeks is key to a stable milk supply,” said Abbie Venida-Yabot, a lactation counselor certified by the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH). “Your body needs to be programmed to the way your baby feeds.”
4. “I can’t breastfeed. Sinisipon at inuubo ako.” U.S.-certified lactation counselor Martinez explains that a mom with a cough or cold can continue to breastfeed. "Mother’s milk provides antibodies to fight infection. It protects the baby from any organism he or she is exposed to, thus triggering your baby’s immune system," she said, adding that if the mom wants to be a segurista she just needs to wear a face mask.
Local pediatrician Dr. Jamie Isip-Cumpas agrees. "Your body will produce the milk that your baby needs," the mom of three and International Certified Breastfeeding and Lactation Counselor (ICBLC) said.
Pediatrician Dr. Alanna Levine in a column for BabyCenter, says, “If you have a fever for more than three days, it's best to visit your doctor to get the treatment you need to keep yourself healthy. If it turns out you have a bacterial infection that requires antibiotics, make sure to ask your doctor for an antibiotic that's safe for breastfeeding.”
5. “My baby still cries even after I breastfeed him. Breastfeeding isn’t working.” A fussy baby after feeding doesn’t always mean your little one is still hungry. “Crying signifies several cues: hunger, discomfort, pain, sleepiness, etc.,” explained Martinez. “Try your best to decode your baby's cues, and don’t give in to supplemental feeding if it’s not medically necessary.”
Look for other tricks that work to calm down your fussy newborn. “I advise parents to try swaddling fussy infants rather than feeding them extra,” said Dr. Bunik. (Find a how-to guide on swaddling here, common reasons for a baby's fussiness here, and tips on how to deal here.)