Breastfeeding Myths Debunked

Do babies need water? Small boobs, no milk? We’re setting the record straight!

There are many myths out there surrounding breastfeeding. Some myths are passed down through generations, some specific to certain cultures, and of course, from mama-to-mama experience. Another factor is that with constant research being undertaken for greater evidence in pregnancy related areas, what we once did, may not be of best practice or recommended anymore. So here are some common questions/myths and their answers/debunking.

Q: It’s a hot day, so I’ll give my baby (<6months) a bottle of water?
A: No your little bubba does not need a bottle of water. Breastmilk has 2 parts (once the milk is in). Firstly when the baby latches it will suck more intensely and quickly…this is when the baby is getting foremilk, a thin, thirst quenching milk. When the baby switches rhythms and begins slower, more nutritive sucking, bub is receiving the hindmilk (a fattier, densely nutritious, calorie fuelled milk). So on a hot day, you might find your baby feeds more frequently and for short amounts of time…this is because baby is requiring the thirst quenching milk. Make sure you keep your own fluids up!

Q: I’ve got small boobs, so does that mean I don’t produce as much milk as someone with big boobs?
A: Breast size doesn’t affect milk production in the majority of women, this is because breast tissue is for the most part connective tissue and fatty tissue rather than milk producing glands. The amount of milk produced is connected to how often, how well and for how long bub feeds.

Q: My mother didn’t make much milk, so I won’t either:
A: Since your mum has had babies, a lot has changed. We now strongly encourage skin-to-skin immediately after birth (no washing of bub beforehand) and mother-infant bonding as well as rooming in with your baby. Complimentary feeds are not as frequent as they once were and many hospitals are striving for BFHI (Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative) accreditation which encourages breastfeeding and its benefits, and only utilising formula if there is a medical indication or maternal request.

Q: (Day 1) I don’t have enough milk:
A: When your baby is born and before your milk comes in around day 3-4, you have colostrum – a gold coloured, sticky fluid that your body has been making and storing since you were 16 weeks pregnant. Colostrum is not only gold in colour, it is liquid gold! It is densely rich in your antibodies, calories, protein and has a laxative effect (helping to push out the meconium, the black sticky poo, stimulating baby’s tummy) to make more room for breastmilk. You make the perfect amount of breastmilk for your baby. Colostrum is the initial breastmilk, and is of a lower volume than foremilk and hindmilk, however it is the perfect amount for your baby’s tiny tummy, at that point in time (see the image at the bottom of article).

Q: Formula fed babes are better sleepers than breastfed babes:
A: Formula and breastmilk have a difference composition and different protein molecules. Formula has larger protein molecules, meaning that it takes the baby longer to process and metabolise…sitting in their tummy longer…keeping them fuller for longer. Research has shown that though formula fed babies may sleep for longer periods than breastfed babies, their sleep quality is not of a better quality.
Breastfed babies begin to sleep for longer periods from around 4-6 weeks and it is at this time that their sleep duration seems to equate to that of a formula-fed bub.

FYI – Why babies don’t need a crazy amount of breastmilk on Day 1, and why they want to feed constantly in the days to come is explained perfectly in this picture below. Babies have tiny tummies, and breastmilk is metabolised very easily and quickly…hence their frequent feeding. Babies also feed frequently because they’re clever and know this brings the milk in quicker, especially at night time in the early days. You breastmilk producing hormone, Prolactin, is highest at night…and babies know it…hence why they sleep more soundly during the day and are crazily feeding throughout the night. Hang in there – they won’t be possessed, breastmilk crazy night monsters for too long!

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

Reference:

Saggy Boobs and Other Breastfeeding Myths 2008. Scotland. (This is an evidence based book that doesn’t take itself too seriously. An interesting read for mama’s wanting more info and more myths debunked!)

Postpartum Contraception

So you’ve had a baby! Contraception is probably the last thing on your mind, but it’s an important conversation to have with a healthcare provider…know your options!

So you’ve had a baby! Contraception is probably the last thing on your mind but, it’s an important conversation to have with a healthcare provider (Midwife, Obstetrician, GP, Family Planning Services) to discuss what will best suit you- and there’s quite the array!

If you are breastfeeding, postpartum contraception options include:

Lactational Amenorrhoea Method (LAM) – When you’re exclusively breastfeeding bub, the hormonal process can effect menstruation, halting ovulation (voila contraception!). The World Health Organisation accepts this as an effective method of contraception, and is considered 98% effective (the same efficacy as the pill) when used according to the guidelines. These guidelines should be discussed with a healthcare provider (this is very important…don’t want any surprises!)

Three criteria can be used to predict the return of your fertility.

  • Have you had a menstrual bleed? (for the purposes of LAM this is defined as any bleeding, on any two consecutive days, that occurs 2 months after the birth)
  • Are you giving regular supplementary foods or foods or fluids to your baby in addition to breastfeeding?
  • Is your infant older than 6 months of age?

If you answer no to all the above three questions, then you potentially meet the requirements for the LAM.

Progesterone only Pill (POP) – Progesterone only pills are considered safe whilst breastfeeding. POP works by thickening the cervical mucosa making it harder for sperm to penetrate. The important thing to note with the mini pill is that it needs to be taken at the same time each day (so set that alarm clock!)…because if you miss it (by 3 or more hours, that window is considered a missed pill, and extra contraceptive precaution will be needed).

Implanon® – is a progesterone implant, which may be suitable from 6 weeks. A conversation for your 6 week check up, perhaps?

Depo-Provera®/ Depo-Ralovera® – Progesterone intramuscular injection. Commence anytime from 6 weeks postpartum.

Mirena® – is an IUD. Dependent on hospital policy/doctor’s policy, the IUD may be able to be inserted within 48 hours postpartum. If this is not possible, it should be left until 4 weeks after childbirth. Its effective within 7 days, lasts 5 years and is a localised progesterone. If at any point you don’t want it anymore, it can be taken out…no 5 year lock in contract!

Note: women who have had a caesarean section should not have a IUD inserted prior to 6 weeks postpartum due to the increased risk of perforation.3

Side note: I have one of these bad boys, and they’re fab! 5 years contraception…tick…peace of mind.

Condoms – Can be used immediately.

Diaphragms – make sure size and fit is correct, and it is advised to wait 6 weeks.

Combined oral contraceptive Pill (COCP) – Not recommended to be used for the first 4-6 weeks. If breastfeeding is established, and no other methods are deemed suitable, this is an option to discuss with your GP etc.  The reason COCP is not recommended for the first 4-6 weeks, is because the combination of hormones can reek havoc with breastmilk supply establishing.

Non-breastfeeding mamas you really are spoilt for choice! All contraceptive methods are suitable. On average, for non-breastfeeding mamas, first ovulation cycle returns 45 days postpartum. 

Don’t take it lying down – evidence on birth positions

When you think of a woman having a baby and the position she assumes, what do you see? The evidence will surprise you…

When you think of a woman having a baby and the position she assumes, what do you see?
I’d always imagined what I saw portrayed in movies* and TV shows* – a woman labouring and pushing on her back. But is this the ideal birthing position?

The majority of Australian women (78%), do indeed assume this position when giving birth to bubs, but when you look at the evidence to suggest this isn’t the optimal position for labour, why the disconnect? Of course, labour and pregnancy alike are exhausting, and I love nothing more than kicking my feet up (not pregnant!) at any given moment, so I see how women gravitate towards the bed…but what does the evidence for everything but the bed, show?

In 2012, a Cochrane study, Gupta et. al was undertaken assigning 7,200 women into two groups; upright positions for birth (birthing stool, kneeling, squatting, all-fours) and non-upright positions for birth (semi-lying, lying down with bed head up, side-lying or in lithotomy (on your back, legs a part) .

When comparing the two groups, the women assigned to upright positions were:

The result of this study concluded that women, without an epidural, should be encouraged to birth in upright positions due to the decreased risk of assisted deliveries (vacuum-assisted or forceps and episiotomy).

When breaking it down logically, being in an upright position – gravity is on your side; the weight of baby and the position of baby is better applied to the cervix…stimulating contractions…helping bub descend and move through the pelvis. Hey Presto!

A midwifery professor, Hannah Dahlen, wrote an article on The Conversation a few years ago, Stand and deliver- upright births best for mum and bub, that looked into why so many women in Australia, do indeed recline to have their babies. The short and simple may indeed be birthing unit design. Like most hospital rooms, the bed takes prime position (pretty convenient for the Midwives and Doctors). To their defence, many women do receive admission CTGs…so immediately they head on over to the bed, get comfy, and then…well 78%…

Being armed with the knowledge of positions to assume in labour, to help bubs work their way down, to relieve back pain etc., is worth investigating. Again, it comes down to what you want, so why not spice things up and try a few, this way you will find out what works for you.

 

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*Movies – Knocked Up, Father of the Bride II, Nine Months, Juno, What to Expect When You’re Expecting

*TV shows – Offspring, Love Child

Breastfeeding Mamas

It’s important to be mindful of how nutrient rich your diet is. Keep W.I.I.Z. in mind!

Breastfeeding is a calorie burner, which is awesome for post bub weight loss…but because your body is working hard to produce milk for bub, it’s important to be mindful of how nutrient rich your diet is. Keep W.I.I.Z in mind – and add an extra 2-3 mindful snacks to your everyday diet.

Wine Water No.1 thirst quencher. Water unfortunately does not increase your milk production, but breastfeeding is hard work so keeping hydrated is important. Aim for: a glass of water with each meal, a glass of water whilst feeding.

Iodine plays a key role in helping your bubs brain become Einsteinlike. The iodine requirements of a new mum are almost double the norm! Meeting these requirements can be solely diet related, supplement related or a combo of both. If you are using supplements, before use please speak to your doctor. Good Food Sources containing Iodine: bread, iodised salt, seafood, eggs and dairy.

Iron plays a part in transporting oxygen around the body. If you’re low in iron, you begin to feel sluggish, fatigued and are susceptible to a weakened immune system. Good Food Sources containing Iron: red meat, chicken and fish (these all also contain protein and zinc). Green leafy vegetables and legumes contain iron.

Hot tip: If you’re wanting to up your iron levels and help your body absorb iron more easily, squeezing citrus fruits on your greens and vegetables, allows the body to absorb the iron more easily!

Zinc is a warrior for healthy skin, good immunity and reproductive health. Good Food Sources containing Zinc: meats, cereals, brightly coloured veggies and fruit.

Image via @KauailifeImage: @kauailife

Resource: Thanks to #thehealthymummy for all their fab info and recipes available online! x

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