Cracking Three Breastfeeding Myths
How Does Your Baby Feed?
By Dr. Sarah Winward, ND
For those mothers who breastfeed, there are a number of topics that frequently come up in my postpartum doula practice. Dr. Google has a LOT of info on the best ways to breastfeed but good, quality help can be hard to find!
There is so much information out there, and it can be overwhelming, to say the least.
Breastfeeding can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be.
So, today, let’s try to crack some of the most common myths about breastfeeding so we can set you up for breastfeeding success.
1. Foremilk and Hindmilk
I hear from a lot of women that they have been told to leave their baby on each breast for 20 minutes in order to get the hindmilk. They say hindmilk is supposed to be creamier and richer than the milk the baby gets at the beginning, called foremilk.
While the composition of your milk does change over the course of a feed (and a day, and a week, depending on your baby’s needs), keeping your baby at the breast for 15 or 20 minutes to get the hindmilk isn’t necessary and can actually be detrimental.
By the end of 15 minutes, your baby probably isn’t drinking anymore, which means they aren’t getting ANY milk!
Once the flow of milk slows down, babies can get fussy or fall asleep at the breast, only to wake up as soon as you put them down because they are still hungry
How do you avoid this? Keep your baby drinking! If the drinking slows down then add breast compressions or switch sides. That could mean that you are switching after 5 or 10 minutes, or sooner. But it also means that your baby is actually getting milk, which is the most important thing.
The milk that is in your breast isn’t going to disappear, and you can always do a 3 or 4-sided feed to make sure your baby is getting all they need.
You can see what it looks like when a baby is drinking here.
2. Nipple Confusion
The way babies drink from a bottle is very different from the way they drink at the breast. Many babies go back and forth between breast and bottle without issue. Then, there are some babies who quickly learn to prefer the bottle, why is that?
It’s not nipple confusion. It’s flow preference!
Bottles flow fast and furious, especially if you are tilting your baby back at a 45-degree angle and feeding them in the crook of your arm. This position is how we commonly see bottle feeding happen on TV.
Even if you use a ‘slow flow’ nipple or one that is supposed to mimic the breast, the flow of milk is still continuous. The flow of milk from the breast fluctuates and peaks as your body has let downs.
If you are using bottles, the best way to make sure baby doesn’t develop a flow preference is to pace the bottle feed. There is a really great video on that here.
3. The Witching Hour
This isn’t really a myth, it’s very common! Prolactin, the hormone that regulates milk production, is lowest in the evenings and highest in the mornings. That means that we produce less milk and it flows more slowly in the evenings.
What can you do about it?
The first thing is to avoid bottles at that time of day (see Myth #2). You don’t want to teach your babe that there is a faster flowing option!
The next thing is to keep feeding that baby!
They will probably want to come back to the breast frequently in the evenings and may take longer to get a full feed. Just do your best to keep them drinking.
That may mean a 5 or 6-sided feed in the evenings when 2 sides is enough first thing in the morning…That’s totally normal!
It can kind of feel like you are breastfeeding all the time for those hours. But usually, once you get through the ‘witching hour,’ your baby has feulled up enough for a good long stretch of sleep.
My personal advice? Learn to breastfeed in side lying so that you can get some rest. And have snacks!
Everyone’s journey with breastfeeding is a bit different. But, I hope that I have cleared up a couple of common areas for you!
If you have questions or concerns about your own personal breastfeeding journey, please join me, Dr. Sarah Winward, ND on Wednesdays from 2-3:30pm for a free Breastfeeding Café right here at Vital! We can share tips, meet other breastfeeding parents, and build a supportive community with you!