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As women, when we have a new baby to care for we want to give them all that we can. This includes the choice in how we feed them – through either breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or mixed feeding.

Currently there is a significant amount of pressure on women to breastfeed. For some this may mean they have to overcome some serious physical challenges that may be experienced, or even to override what they truly feel is needed for both themselves and their baby.

There are a number of myths making the rounds about breastfeeding that can negatively affect this very vulnerable and precious time and in this 3-part series of articles we are looking at six of the most common.

So far, in Breastfeeding Myths Busted – Part 1, we have discussed:

Myth 1 – Breastfeeding is the ‘best’ way to feed and nourish baby

  1. Breastfeeding is not always what is ‘best’ for some women and babies.
  2. As women, we have the choice of what feeding option is most supportive and the best for us and our babies.

Myth 2 – Breastfeeding is the strongest way to bond with baby

  1. Connecting and bonding with our baby comes from our heart, not our breasts.
  2. We bond with our babies through connecting with them – heart to heart, not from the method we choose to feed them.

Revealing these myths for what they are and the harm that comes from believing them to be true is important in freeing all women to be able to listen to the inner wisdom we all hold – to support us to return to listening to the knowing we all have within, and to stop looking outside of ourselves for permission to choose what we feel and know will truly support us and our families.

So let’s explore two more myths that can potentially affect this delicate time and our confidence, as well as how we feel about and take care of ourselves throughout the process:

Myth 3 – Breastfeeding will be ‘easy’ because it is natural

Most of us who have breastfed our children will know how untrue this statement is. Yes, breastfeeding is natural, but this certainly does not mean it is ‘easy’. For some women there is an ease to breastfeeding from the beginning, but in the majority of cases breastfeeding is in fact a learned skill.

There are also many challenges that can come with breastfeeding – cracked or sensitive nipples, supply issues, the health of the mother, the health of the baby, the many and varied feeding positions, and many more. Navigating these challenges is an important part of being a woman, as it is a time where we are given the opportunity to make loving and supportive choices for ourselves, which are naturally felt and enjoyed by our baby.

Yet, many of us overlook these opportunities, especially if we are caught up in breastfeeding being ‘easy’ or the ‘best’ way to nourish our babies. We persevere through extreme pain with bleeding or cracked nipples, debilitating mastitis, and can often put our mental health and our physical health at risk to achieve the task of breastfeeding. There is something to be said about perseverance until we become more at ease with something, and another about downright abusing ourselves to achieve an ideal.

So, it pays to remember that breastfeeding is natural, but it is certainly not always ‘easy’, and as women we need to make the most loving and supportive choices we can make for ourselves and our bodies, as this love and care naturally flows onto our babies.

Myth 4 – Breastfeeding will help with losing weight

This myth is something many women fall for during pregnancy. It can be seen as a license to eat for two under the guise that once breastfeeding happens the weight will simply drop off. Well, that is what we are told, right!?

Obviously, with this being a myth, there are a plethora of women in the world who are bitterly disappointed that this is in fact not true. If only we had of known the truth earlier we could have been more responsible with our food choices during pregnancy and in those early months following the birth!

Being playful aside, there can be a very serious consequence to this myth. It comes in the form of our expectations of breastfeeding and the weight loss process after giving birth, and how not having these expectations met can impact on our sense of well being and ultimately our mental health.

There are so many reasons why women lose weight or don’t lose weight – why some women lose weight while breastfeeding and why others gain weight. The truth is it comes down to our relationship with ourselves as women, how we express ourselves as a mother, as well as what we feed and nourish ourselves with – along with physical exercise, sleeping patterns, how we care for ourselves during the day, and much more.

So how can we place so much responsibility onto losing weight from the simple act of breastfeeding? It just doesn’t make sense when we look at how many factors are actually involved in the weight loss process.

Breastfeeding is certainly not a weight loss program that can be relied on or guaranteed.

Four myths down, two more to go

So that is now four myths exposed, explored, and discussed. We have two more to go. Join us for Breastfeeding Myths Busted – Part 3 as the final two myths are exposed and the harm they can cause is revealed. Therefore, supporting us to be able to let these falsities go and allowing space for us to make true choices that support us, our babies, and our families from the wisdom that resides in all of us. To catch up on Breastfeeding Myths Busted – Part 1 click here.

Before you move on, it would be great to hear from you about your thoughts and feelings on what has been discussed in this article and whether the myths that have been exposed have had an impact on you or your breastfeeding experience. Please share in the comments below.

  • This is an excellent article.

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  • Everything in this article is so spot on.

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  • It is a learned skill. That’s why its hard.

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  • U was hoping that the myths would be more breastfeeding specific rather than trying to push women into feeling like breastfeeding is not the biological norm!
    What about the myth that many women believe when their baby is hungry numerous times a night they think (and are told!) that it is their supply dropping but I’m actual fact it’s normal and the baby is cluster feeding to build supply? What about the myth that babies should be sleeping through the night when in actual fact the frequent night feeds are what helps a baby reduce their risk of Sid’s in early life? What about the myth that the “full” feeling in a woman’s breasts does not mean that they do not have any milk? I feel like this article could have had more substance.

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  • I was bitterly disappointed not to lose weight while breastfeeding. Both my sisters did but I didn’t.

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  • lol breastfeeding didn’t help me lose too much weight lol. You still have to eat well

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  • As I mentioned on part 1, I don’t agree with myths 1 and 2 in the way that they are worded. Mothers who are prepared also are aware of number 3. I agree with number 4.

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  • I agree with what you’re saying in this article. Yes, breastfeeding is natural, but this certainly does not mean it is ‘easy’…it can come with many hurdles.
    And true breastfeeding is not guaranteed a way to lose weight, in some cases it will help in many cases it won’t especially when pregnancy and breastfeeding are seen as a license to eat whatever you want….

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  • it does help with weight loss, well a bit anyway. Its not easy at the start but it gets easier, hard to stop now

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  • I’d love so called professionals to tell more new mums that yes even though breastfeeding is natural – its not easy and doesnt always comes naturally. And there are hundreds of reasons why a mum cant breastfeed or chooses not to. So long as bub is healthy and fed is all that matters.

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  • Who cares how a baby gets their nourishment as long as they are getting it. I wish it helped with weightloss lol

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  • Well, I agree that breastfeeding is not always easy. It can be painful, women can have problems starting or continuing. I had some problems at one point because my daughter started sleeping through the night when she was 2 months old and so for more than 10 hours I couldn’t feed her. And slowly my production of milk decreased. But luckily I was able to overcome that problem and go on.

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  • Love these busted myths :)

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  • I believe that breast feeding helps the muscles of (or around) the uterus contract, and that can give the appearance of weight loss in the short term.

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  • This did not affect me, but I didn’t know the breastfeeding/losing weight information was a myth.

    Reply

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