Green Child Magazine Winter 2015 | Page 64

10 Breastfeeding Myths “Breastfeeding is natural.” Sound familiar? If you assume that breastfeeding is natural, it doesn’t take a leap of faith to accept that breastfeeding must be easy. Why, then, do so many mothers describe breastfeeding as hard? In reality, making milk is natural, but breastfeeding is a skill that babies (and moms) must learn. Some babies enter this world knowing just what to do, but most need a bit of practice. Knowing that myths masquerading as facts can undermine the success of even the most ardent mom, we aim to separate fact from fiction regarding the 10 most common myths. 1. “Engorgement is normal.” It’s easy to confuse breast fullness—which is normal—with breast engorgement, which can hint at a problem that will only worsen if ignored. 64 After your baby is born, your blood carries the fluid and nutrients needed for milk production to your breasts, causing your breasts to swell. Frequent breastfeeding or milk expression (by hand or with a pump) relieves the swelling and softens the breasts. If feedings are infrequent, delayed, or missed, your breasts can overfill and engorgement can occur. Classic signs of engorgement include swollen, hot, painful |by Amy Spangler RN, IBCLC breasts and a low-grade fever (less than 100°F or 37.7°C). You can prevent engorgement by breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth; breastfeeding “on request,” in response to your baby’s first signs of hunger (sucking on fingers or fists) rather than on a strict schedule; breastfeeding at least 8–12 times in each 24 hours; and hand expressing or pumping to relieve fullness. 2. “Pain is normal.” 
Many new mothers describe breastfeeding as “painful” or “uncomfortable,” but the feeling should occur only at the start of a feeding and last only a few seconds. Once a mother gets accustomed (after several days or weeks) to the stretching sensation that occurs when her baby latches on, breastfeeding will cease to hurt. If the pain persists throughout the feeding, it can signal a poor latch. Trying to breastfeed “through the pain” will only result in a still-hungry baby and a damaged nipple. Break the suction by sliding your finger into the corner of your baby’s mouth, remove your baby from the breast, and try again. Mothers who are unable to achieve a pain-free latch are urged to get help from someone trained to help moms and babies breastfeed, such as an international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC).