Sunday, August 05, 2012

World Breastfeeding Week ~ Myths (and old wives tales) about Breastfeeding

Welcome to the World Breastfeeding Week Blog Carnival!  From August 1-7, we'll be featuring breastfeeding experts sharing their expertise about breastfeeding and breastfeeding issues.  Each day will bring something new!  Day 5 features Donna Walls RN, BSN, ICCE, IBCLC of Dayton, Ohio.

First, Happy World Breastfeeding Week, an opportunity to celebrate the joys of breastfeeding!

Second, we are going to dispel some of those myths that just won’t go away, like the size of the breasts determine the amount of the milk a woman can produce. In fact, the external size of the breasts have nothing to do with the ability to produce milk. Most women have one breast that is larger than the other and the smaller breast often makes a larger amount of milk.

Donna Walls RN, ICCE, IBCLC
Foods have always been a hot topic in lactation circles, usually lists of all the foods you can’t eat while breastfeeding. The truth is, there really isn’t any food that must be avoided. Spicy foods are often denied, but these foods form the basis of many cultures and do not cause concerns in those newborns. Those foods labeled “gas-forming” also have no real basis in fact to remove from the diet. Some infants may have a reaction to cow’s milk in the mother’s diet, but this is no reason to eliminate milk from all mother’s diets.

One of those myths that won’t go away is that babies need to nurse for long sessions to get the high-fat hind milk at the “end” of the feeding. Recent studies show that the milk fat is distributed throughout the entire feeding. Some very efficient babies nurse shorter periods with more milk fat in the foremilk. Mandating that mothers force longer feedings will not enhance weight gain and is a practice that is not supported by research. Encouraging baby-led feedings, feeding with cues for frequency and length of feedings, and not the clock, will provide the best nutrition. 
Many women worry about not having enough milk in the first days. New mothers need to be reassured that they have all the food their newborn needs right from the beginning. Colostrum is the first milk and is present in the breasts in the last part of the pregnancy and ready for the first feedings. An average feeding of colostrum is about 1 teaspoon, plenty to fill the newborn’s stomach which is about the size of a shooter marble. Early feedings are ensured when moms and babies spend lots of time snuggling skin to skin when babies can smell the milk.

Donna has been an RN for 32 years and for 30 years, has worked with expectant and new parents.  She is a certified childbirth educator, Lactation Consultant, and  has a Diploma in Herbal Sciences from Australasian College.  In 1995, she developed and opened the first Alternative Birth Center within a hospital setting in the state of Ohio.  Donna created the Early Lactation Care Specialist program because of her passion for babies, mothers and lactation.  She is an internationally known author and speaker, presenting workshops, programs and speaking at conferences. Donna also works with hospitals, helping to set up their Baby-Friendly Programs.  You can reach her at  

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