|BREASTFEEDING MYTHS: Debunking supply issues|
Although it's nice to see a variety of breastfeeding information out there, not all of it is accurate. Many sites continue to perpetuate common breastfeeding myths. That is why I wanted to set the record straight and bust the top-five breastfeeding myths about breastmilk supply.
Myth: There's no way to increase breastmilk supply.
Fact: There are many ways to increase your breastmilk supply, but the most important thing to remember is that breastmilk production works on a supply-and-demand basis. This means that in order to increase your supply, you have to increase the demand for milk. Increasing demand can be done by breastfeeding, or pumping, including adding extra pumping sessions in after feeding your baby or in between feedings. This will then encourage your body to make more milk, while still having enough to satisfy your baby during feedings.
Myth: Women with small breasts produce less milk than those with large breasts.
Fact: Breast size is in no way tied to milk production, although it can be linked to storage capacity. Storage capacity is how much milk your breasts can hold in between sessions. Although larger breasts have more storage capacity, any size breasts can produce plenty of milk for your baby. Women with smaller breast capacity might just have to feed more often to satisfy their baby's appetite and maintain milk supply but this is something that is best evaluated by a trained lactation professional.
Myth: Many women do not produce enough milk.
Fact: The vast majority of women are able to physically produce enough milk, but it is when interventions (like supplementation among other things) are a part of the equation that mothers can start producing less milk. In fact, many of them over produce, rather than under produce. Many people blame slow baby growth on a lack of milk production, but the usual problem is that the baby is not getting the milk that the mother has. The typical reason a baby doesn't get enough milk is a poor latch as that can interfere with milk transfer -- i.e. the baby adequately extracting the milk from your breast. That is why it's important to understand early on how to encourage your baby to latch properly. It's also important to look for signs that your baby is eliciting and drinking milk, and that you get the help you need if you feel as though this is an issue with you and your baby.
Myth: Babies can empty breasts of all milk.
Fact: Breasts are never truly empty of milk when you are breastfeeding. Breastmilk is made up of live cells and is constantly being produced. Research shows that, on average, babies only drink about 75-80 percent of available milk. This means that even though your breasts are less full at times, they always have milk some in them. It is important to let your baby feed as long as she wants and not limit the time on either breast so you can ensure that your baby has drained as much milk out as she can. If you are pumping, don't limit the time spent pumping and keep pumping until the streams of milk slow down.
Myth: It's best to breastfeed on a schedule.
Fact: Although past generations stuck to a breastfeeding schedule, theories have changed about when to feed newborns. Now we recommend breastfeeding babies on demand, which means to feed babies whenever they're hungry. Babies' stomachs are small and breastmilk digests very quickly, which means they need to be fed often, but not necessarily at scheduled times. Since babies eat only when they're hungry, it's best to feed them on demand, rather than on a schedule. Look for cues like baby rooting, smacking their lips, and putting their hands in their mouths. Crying is a late hunger cue so it is best to feed your baby before they get fussy and start crying, as it is very difficult to latch on a frustrated and crying baby!
Consider these breastfeeding myths busted. Hopefully, this information will help when it comes to breastfeeding your baby. Also, make sure to keep an eye out for our next myth versus fact post, where I'll debunk formula falsities.