As a new mom, you may find yourself receiving advice from all kinds of people.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the topic of breastfeeding, people are not always sharing research-based information.
Here are some truths about common breastfeeding myths and misconceptions according to a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified lactation counselor.
Note: If you’re struggling to decide how you want to feed your baby, see our post on breastmilk vs. formula, what to consider when making a decision.
The Impact of Stress and Mental Health on Breastfeeding
For some moms, having a newborn can bring added stress to life, but you can still successfully breastfeed when you’re stressed or uptight. Your mental health should not impact your overall milk supply.
The Science Behind It
We’re still learning about the complex relationship between mental health and breastfeeding. Breastfeeding hormones like oxytocin can reduce stress, anxiety, and perinatal mood disorders during the post-partum period.
When Stress Becomes a Problem
However, some moms find breastfeeding is adding to their stress, especially if stress is being caused by a painful latch or feeding issues. If you are experiencing anxiety due to pain or other feeding problems, it’s important to get help quickly from an international board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC).
Breast Size and Its Relation to Milk Production
The Myth Debunked
All women, regardless of size, can successfully breastfeed and produce the right amount of milk for their babies.
What to Consider
While breast size is not a concern, there are some breast abnormalities that could impact your ability to successfully breastfeed. It’s always a good idea to get a prenatal breast exam from your OBGYN or midwife, especially if you have any concerns about your body.
Diet, Hydration, and Exercise and Their Effects on Breastmilk
Nutrition Matters, But Not How You Think
Eating a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated and exercising while breastfeeding can have health benefits for you and your baby. But, you can certainly be successful breastfeeding even if you don’t always make the healthiest of food choices.
Hydration and Exercise
When it comes to hydration, simply drinking to thirst is usually sufficient, and plain water does the trick! On the exercise front, it’s perfectly safe and healthy to exercise while breastfeeding.
The Truth About Caffeine and Alcohol While Breastfeeding
The Good News
Good news! You don’t have to sacrifice your morning coffee (or your other favorite caffeinated beverage) while breastfeeding your baby.
Moderation is Key
When it comes to alcohol, drinking in moderation is generally considered safe.
Medications and Their Impact on Breastfeeding
What to Know
There are many medications that are considered safe while breastfeeding. Be sure to mention you are breastfeeding when starting any new medications.
Breast Surgeries and Their Impact on Milk Supply
When it comes to breast enhancements or reductions, it’s possible that you can still breastfeed without any issues. It’s also possible that the tissue and/or nerve damage could cause some challenges.
You’re doing a great job, mama!
Rebecca Ellison, MS, MPH, RDN, LDN, CLC
Rebecca is the author of this post and is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), certified lactation counselor (CLC), wife and a mama to three littles in Knoxville, Tennessee.
You can visit her website to view her breastfeeding course 'Ready, Set, Latch!'