Breastfeeding is good for baby and mother, but many women don’t breastfeed — or don’t breastfeed for long enough — because of some myths that make breastfeeding seem more difficult or undesirable.
Myth #1: Many women — especially those with small breasts — don’t produce enough milk.
Fact: Almost all women produce enough milk to feed their baby, and breast size has little to do with milk production. Even women with smaller breasts usually have adequate lactation glands. The primary reason why babies don’t get enough milk early on is that they’re not latching on well enough.
Myth #2: If my baby isn’t latching on, it’s something I’m doing wrong and I just need to keep trying.
Fact: It’s true that helping your baby latch on can be hard to master, and it’s important to work with someone who has experience doing it properly. Many hospitals have lactation consultants that you can work with before you leave the hospital.
But not all babies are physically capable of achieving a good latch. Some babies have what is described as a tongue tie. The frenum — a membrane attaching the tongue to the bottom of the mouth — prevents the baby from moving the tongue into a proper position for creating a good seal. A frenectomy can liberate the tongue and make breastfeeding easier. You should consult with your pediatrician or a dentist to learn whether a frenectomy might help your baby become a better breastfeeder.
Myth #3: Offering my baby a bottle as well as breastfeeding will confuse them and they will stop eating.
Fact: Babies are pretty smart. OK, so they’re not going to be doing differential equations, but when it comes to things they’re really focused on — like feeding — they put their little brains to it and figure it out. It’s best to give your baby a few weeks exclusively on the breast, if you can, but if your baby is having difficulty latching on at first, it’s important to make sure your baby is getting enough to eat, so supplementing with a bottle (especially one filled with breast milk) is fine. Your baby will figure it out.
Myth #4: Breastfeeding ties a woman down.
Fact: Breastfeeding can be very liberating. Having to carry bottles and formula everywhere you go can be a drag, but if you’re breastfeeding, you just need you and your baby (plus changing supplies) when you go out. And once you start pumping, you can go out on your own and leave your hubby with the kid.
Myth #5: Breastfeeding women get less sleep.
Fact: Formula fed babies do sleep longer between feedings. Breastmilk is so easy to digest that babies get what they need from it and are ready for more sooner, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be getting more sleep. To feed a baby formula, you have to get up, mix the formula, warm it, and bottle it, all while your baby is crying because they’re hungry.
With a breastfed baby, you just reach over and get them — if they’re near your bed — then cradle them while they eat, maybe even in bed. And the oxytocin your body produces in response to breastfeeding can help you sleep better.
Myth #6: Breastfeeding leads to sagging breasts or breast sensitivity/lack of sensation.
Fact: Pregnancy can lead to sagging breasts, but women who breastfeed are no more likely to have breast sagging than women who don’t breastfeed. The same goes for long-term changes in breast sensitivity. The changes happen during pregnancy as your body is getting ready to produce milk. Whether you breastfeed or not, these effects are already in place.
Myth #7: Breastfeeding in public can get me a citation for indecent exposure.
Fact: This may be true in some states, but not in South Carolina. Here the law is that it’s legal for you to breastfeed any place you can legally be, and it is explicitly stated that this doesn’t constitute indecent exposure. Cover up enough to make yourself feel comfortable, but even if some people are rude, John Q. Law is on your side.
If you think tongue tie might be interfering with your baby’s ability to breastfeed, we can help. Please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a Columbia, SC dentist with extensive experience performing frenectomy procedures at Smile Columbia Dentistry.