Breastfeeding gets some bad press and it shouldn’t. It’s the normal way to feed a baby and aside from those mums who genuinely are unable to feed their child naturally (and despite what people believe these ladies are very rare) everyone can and should breastfeed their baby.
For some reason breastfeeding is a very controversial subject and people become very defensive and offended when their feeding method is questioned. I’m not writing this post to offend, or criticise or point fingers, I’m merely using my experience and education to banish common misconceptions.
1. Breastfeeding makes a baby clingy
No. Just no. Breastfeeding is normal. Therefore the behaviours of an exclusively breastfed baby are normal. We should be questioning why formula fed babies are not as attached to their mothers! But again, I’m not here to ignite the breast v bottle debate.
Babies feed from the breast when they are hungry, which is often (they’ve got loads of growing to do) when they’re thirsty, when they’re in pain, when they’re upset, when they’re feeling unsafe, when they’re feeling insecure, when they’re bored, when they’re over stimulated and when they are overwhelmed with love for their mother. The list goes on.
Your baby may look ‘clingy’ but actually she’s just relieving any one of those above symptoms.
Being close to your baby and especially being in physical contact with him actually causes the brain to grow. Mother Nature wanted us to be intelligent creatures, so in creating a little being that needs frequent feeding she is forcing us to be physically close to our babies, making their brains grow!
This leads us on to
2. My baby needs feeding more often than other babies who are formula fed
Again this is normal. The fact that an ounce of formula forces a baby into a deep state of unconsciousness should ring alarm bells.
This does not mean your milk is not adequate enough, it means your baby is digesting the nice gentle and kind breastmilk really quickly, like its supposed to, whereas the formula fed babies are just struggling to digest the thicker harsher components of the cow’s milk from which formula is made.
3. Breastfed babies don’t sleep through the night
The definition of a baby ‘sleeping through the night’ is actually a baby that sleeps for 5 hours. And these babies, no matter how they’re fed, are few and far between.
Frequent night waking is a defence mechanism, it stops your baby from dying.
A deep sleep places your baby at a higher risk of suffering SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) so again Mother Nature has come up with the perfect antidote. Easily digested milk that leaves the tummy quickly, encouraging your baby to wake before getting into a deep sleep phase. Now that’s impressive.
4. Breastfed babies don’t take bottles
And why would they want to? They’ve got the option of snuggling right up to mum, breathing in her beautiful scent, gazing into her loving eyes, stroking her warm soft skin, drinking her own unique tasting milk that is a perfect temperature. Or they can have a plastic bottle teat of fast flowing milk gushing into their face at a pace they can’t control.
Babies can control the speed of flow when they take milk from the breast, meaning that they’re not always actively feeding. Using a bottle encourages a fast stream of liquid that only ceases when the bottle is empty or taken away.
And besides, it’s a lot of effort to wash, sterilise and prepare a bottle of milk to the right temperature when you can just flip out your boob!
And yes I know some amazing ladies express their milk and feed from a bottle. I’m not referring to the contents of a bottle here, merely the bottle itself.
5. Breastfeeding hurts
Painful breastfeeding is a problem, because breastfeeding done right does not hurt. Plain and simple. If it hurts, get help.
Your boobs do not need to be ‘broken in’ and you don’t have to just ‘get used to the pain’ and you certainly shouldn’t expect breastfeeding to hurt. Fact.
6. Breastfed babies can’t eat solids until they’re 6 months
Breastfed babies don’t need anything extra until they’re 26 weeks old. Nothing. No water, no baby rice, no crusts, no pineapple and brussel sprout purées, nothing. In the height of summer a formula fed baby may need additional water. But a breastfed baby does not.
By waiting until your baby is old enough you completely eliminate the need to purée any food. Your baby can go straight to ‘proper’ food. Purée was invented because babies weren’t physically ready to consume food. Babies under 6 months can’t chew, can’t control their tongue, can’t coordinate swallowing, and can’t regurgitate anything that’s got stuck.
Babies of 6 months or older can do these things (as long as there are no mental or physiological impairments). So save yourself the bother of buying or puréeing food and just wait until they’re old enough to feed themselves. It’s much easier.
7. Breastfed babies poo constantly
Yep that’s true, breastfed babies can be very regular, probably everytime you feed him, but they can also go days and days with nothing. Both completely normal. Breastmilk is digested really easily, it literally slips through the digestive system quickly and the body removes all the goodness before getting rid of anything it doesn’t need. This rapid digestion means babies poo loads, but sometimes the body uses up nearly everything in the breastmilk leaving nothing to waste. So there can be no poop for days! That’s excellent.
And the other positive poo fact; breastmilk poo smells nice! (Please can someone agree with me in the below comments before I’m made to look nuts) But it is nice. It’s a yeasty sweet bread like smell, and isn’t offensive in the slightest.
8. I don’t have enough milk
This is sort of similar to the first few points. Many mums, in fact nearly all mums experience this concern at some point. It’s usually around day 5 after baby’s birth when her brain suddenly goes into overdrive and begins growing very rapidly. All this growth needs fuel, and lots of it, and so nearly all full term healthy babies will go on a feeding frenzy and demand your boobs constantly.
This is not an indication you’re running out of milk!! It’s normal!!
Your body will respond by upping its production, the faster your boobs are emptied the faster they will refill.
I remember feeling like this was never going to end, I didn’t have enough milk, my baby was too hungry, my breastmilk is inadequate and many other damaging and completely untrue thoughts. It is a normal process.
It’s difficult not being able to see how much they’re getting, but instead of worrying about what you can’t see going in, watch what’s coming out!
If you’re dealing with explosions of poo that somehow end up coating your baby’s shoulders and everytime she’s naked she wee’s all over the place then you can be sure she’s getting loads of milk.
These are just some of the “problems” breastfeeding mum’s face, but they’re not problems at all. They’re all normal expected behaviours and results of a natural form of feeding.
What problems have you faced when breastfeeding, or what concerns you about breastfeeding your soon to be new arrival? Comment below and share your worries, you’re not alone, but you can do it!