At some point during pregnancy you probably heard a myth or two about breastfeeding. While some were helpful, others probably struck you as crazy. Here is a list of the wackier myths for your reading pleasure. You may recognize a few while others will leave you scratching your head and wondering, “Do people actually believe this?”
You cannot get pregnant while breastfeeding.
This is completely incorrect. Chances are, if you are ovulating, you can get pregnant. With that being said, you may not ovulate right away, which is probably how this myth started. Generally, 3 months after giving birth your body has low estrogen levels which keep you from ovulating and menstruating. Robert Zurawin MD, an obstetrician and fertility specialist who is a contributor for babycenter.com, writes: “Yes. In general, you’re less fertile, but not infertile, while breastfeeding…You can start ovulating again at any time after three months of lactation, and you probably won’t know when it happens.”
Drinking more milk helps to increase breast milk production.
While drinking plenty of fluids is always a recommendation for general good health, it is not necessary to drink milk to make milk. In fact, it doesn’t increase your production any more than eating a well balanced diet. La Leche League states: “A healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, grains and proteins is all that a mother needs to provide the proper nutrients to produce milk. Calcium can be obtained from a variety of nondairy foods such as dark green vegetables, seeds, nuts and bony fish.” No other mammal drinks milk to make milk.
Breast nipples are unsanitary, so use formula instead.
According to Kaiser Permanente, a leading health care provider, one of the benefits of breastfeeding is that: “There is no risk of contamination from bacteria, chemicals, or other substances that can get into formula. Breast milk is fresh, at the right temperature, and ready to feed”.
Exercising while breastfeeding makes breast milk sour.
There is no conclusive evidence proving that exercise sours breast milk. One 1992 research study suggested that lactic acid builds up after strenuous workouts (90 minutes or more) but the research methods have been questioned. In fact, exercising is encouraged post-partum to help improve a mother’s mood, appearance, and overall health.
Women with smaller breasts produce less milk than those with larger breasts.
There is no basis for this myth other than physical appearance. Bigger isn’t necessarily better.
Sadly, while we may laugh at some of these myths, they have been perpetuated and continually spread as facts through various communities. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) breastfeeding rates have risen in recent years. With the increase of mothers nursing their children, it is even more important that accurate and up-to-date information is available for mothers and mothers to be who breastfeed. Recently, Health and Human Services launched a campaign called “It’s Only Natural” to help promote breastfeeding and dispel many of the myths circulating in the breastfeeding world.
Hygeia, in alliance with La Leche League supports programs and organizations that help to promote greater knowledge and understanding of breastfeeding’s health and benefits. For more information from Health and Human Services, please visit their website.
Health and Human Services
“It’s Only Natural” Campaign
- “Common Breastfeeding Myths.” LLLI. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.
- “Uncovering Breastfeeding Misconceptions.” Womenshealth.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 Jan. 2013. Web. 27 May 2013.
- “Can I Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding?” BabyCenter. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2013
- “Benefits of Breastfeeding.” Kaiser Permanente. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.
- “Will Exercising Affect My Milk or My Ability to Breastfeed?” BabyCenter. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.
- “Is It True That Small-breasted Moms Produce Less Milk?” BabyCenter. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.