You've Heard the Myths About Breastfeeding. Here's the Truth.
Some of the breastfeeding "advice" you'll get may be helpful, but chances are much of it won't be.
Many breastfeeding moms swear by the wait-and-see approach: Don’t alter your diet at all and see if your baby has a problem. If she does seem fussy after you eat certain foods, experiment with your diet. “If necessary, keep a food diary, and if your baby is fussy two to 12 hours after you’ve eaten a certain food, cut it out of your diet for a while,” Huotari says.
Myth #4: You need to nurse every two hours around the clock—no more, no less—to make sure that your baby gets enough to eat. Truth: Babies’ eating patterns are as individual as those of their parents. That said, many newborns do naturally fall into an every-two-hours routine. “‘Watch the baby and not the clock’ is what we always emphasize,” Haldeman says.
If you’re worried that your baby isn’t getting enough to eat, count the number of dirty diapers she has—she should have at least six wet diapers plus two or three “seedy” stools daily. You can also schedule a weight check with your pediatrician if you’re worried that your baby isn’t getting enough to eat.
Myth #5: If you give your baby bottles of pumped milk, she will refuse the breast. Truth: Most babies switch between breast and bottle with no problem. “As long as you wait until your baby has mastered breastfeeding [usually at about six weeks] before you offer her a bottle, she should be willing to switch back and forth,” Haldeman says. She notes, however, that women who limit their babies to one bottle per day tend to have less of a struggle.
Myth #6: You shouldn’t nurse if you have a blocked duct or breast infection. Truth: Exactly the opposite is true. The best way to treat a blocked duct is to nurse as often as you can. And the best way to prevent an infection is to clear a blocked duct. But how do ducts become blocked in the first place? “It usually happens when the baby’s nursing patterns change and the breast becomes overfull,” Lauwers says. “For instance, when a baby starts taking longer naps, eating solid foods and sleeping through the night, she may nurse less frequently, which can lead to blocked ducts.”
Besides frequent nursing, applying heat—in the form of a heating pad or wet washcloth—before nursing can help clear a duct. Also be sure your bra isn’t too constricting; and avoid underwire bras, as they can compress ducts.
If you do develop a breast infection—symptoms include redness and soreness in the breast, a fever and flulike symptoms—see your doctor right away, as you’ll need to take antibiotics. “But you can still nurse with a breast infection,” Lauwers says. “It’s not going to hurt your baby.”