THE TOP 10 TRUTHS ABOUT BREASTFEEDING - DISPELLING THE MYTHS
By Courtney Miller, Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)
After giving birth to my son in March 2019, I quickly realized there wasn’t enough readily available breastfeeding education and support for mothers, and that’s when my passion for breastfeeding began. This led me to find my dream job of becoming a lactation consultant and helping moms and their families along their breastfeeding journey! I am so excited to collaborate with FIT4MOM to bring you the answers to your most frequently asked breastfeeding questions!
1. Will exercise alter the taste of my breast milk?
Nope! There was a myth out there that the lactic acid build-up could enter breast milk and therefore change the taste from a sweet to a bitter taste but most studies have debunked this and show that there is no change in babies nursing or refusing after exercising.
Read more, here.
2. Will exercising decrease my milk supply?
Not likely. It is important to stay well hydrated as exercising can make you sweat and therefore lead to dehydration. Dehydration can cause a dip in supply as breastmilk is more than 80% water! Just be sure you are drinking plenty of water (drink to thirst!). It is also important to eat plenty of calories!
3. How do I know if the baby is getting any milk?
This can be a tricky one but what I always tell moms is to watch diaper output. You will be more obsessed with your baby peeing and pooping than you ever thought was possible. In the beginning, the baby's output will correspond with their age in days. Meaning on the first day of life they need just 1 pee and 1 poo. The second day they need 2 pees and 2 poos, and so on. Although this does not mean on the 100th day they will have 100 diapers! Your baby will settle out around day 5-6 where they will have at least 6 pees and 4 poos daily.
Remember this... What goes in must come out! So if the baby is getting adequate milk then they will have pees and poos to show for it! Check out this post for more.
If you are ever concerned your baby is not getting enough, consider contacting a Lactation Consultant. We have special scales called weighted feeds. This is when we weigh your baby before a feeding then after to deter
4. Can I lay on my stomach while breastfeeding?
You can; as long as you are comfortable. Some find it to be too much pressure but it is totally up to you!
5. Will breastfeeding always be uncomfortable? How can I soothe cracked nipples?
Breastfeeding ISN'T supposed to be painful. I always ask mamas, "How does your baby's latch feel?" You should feel pulling & tugging. But you should NOT feel pinching! Cracking and bleeding is a sign that your baby may not be latched deep enough. It is important to remember that although cracking and bleeding is not normal, some rawness/tenderness can be normal initially. But how the latch feels says a lot!
If your baby is latched deep, you'll notice wide, fish lips; the upper lip will flail up and bottom lip down. You should feel pulling and tugging versus pinching. You may initially feel pinching at the very beginning of a latch but it should subside within 10-15 seconds. If the pinching persists, you'll need to break the latch by sticking your finger in the side of your baby's mouth and pull them off to try again.
Remember, practice and patience makes for a good latch!
Another tip: watch the way your nipple looks after feeding. Your nipple should look the same before feeding as it does after a feeding. Are you noticing the nipple looks pinched like a lipstick or duck bill? More than likely the baby is not latching correctly or deep enough.
If you're still struggling with getting a deep latch, it's VERY important to reach out to a lactation consultant for a latch assessment. Oral restrictions like tongue and lip ties can also be a cause of painful, shallow latches. It's NEVER normal!
Pulling and tugging = normal.
Pinching = NOT normal
6. Best sports bras for nursing. Is too much or too little support the goal?
I actually polled my followers after my son, I just used any sports bras I could find that felt supportive but not too tight with a little padding. I felt like the more support; the tighter the bra was which was uncomfortable.
Instagram followers recommend these bras:
- Auden Nursing Yoga Bra: $18.99
- Kindred Bravely: $39.99
- Senita: tons of variety!
7. Can I do HIIT while nursing?
You can do anything that you previously were doing prior to birth/pregnancy. However, I would advise you to slowly work back up to it and not jump into a HIIT workout on your first day being cleared from your OB.
8. Can I do a calorie-restrictive nutrition program while nursing? How many calories should I be eating?
I would be cautious with a calorie-restrictive program as your body needs calories to make breastmilk. Fun fact: Breastfeeding alone burns between 500-600 calories per day. No wonder you are always hungry, right? This is why it is so important to eat an additional 400-500 calories per day while you are nursing.
Remember, you are feeding your baby so you have to eat a little extra as well. I always say to continue eating like you are still pregnant. When you were pregnant you were giving your baby 100% nutrition and with breastfeeding, you are doing the same.
9. How much water should I be drinking daily? Should I drink more water if I am active?
I advise you to drink to thirst. Everyone says to drink "x amount of water" and your milk supply will be higher which isn't necessarily true. Yes, hydration is very important, breast milk is more than 80% water but drinking 10 gallons of water every day isn't going to make you have a crazy milk supply. I recommend always having a glass of water near you while nursing. Drink when the baby drinks or when you feel thirsty (Is anyone else really thirsty now reading this as I am writing it??)
This may just be the nurse in me, but I always watch my urine color. If I notice that it is a little dark and concentrated then that is a reminder to go grab some water. On the other hand, if it is a pale yellow, then I give myself a little high five and know that I am hydrated. If your urine is completely clear, you actually have drunk too much water so maybe tone it down a little.
10. What if I need to nurse during class, should I pump instead?
The great thing about FIT4MOM classes is you can stop whenever you need to attend to your baby. If you need to feed your baby during a Stroller Strides class, this is totally welcomed and encouraged. That said, I would always try to plan my workouts around my nursing sessions when possible. If you miss a nursing session and baby gets a bottle (breastmilk or formula) you will want to pump as soon as possible in place of that missed feeding. Your breastmilk is supply and demand driven so if you miss a feeding and don't pump it is like telling your body you don't need that milk. Over time, your body will then decrease milk supply which we don't want!
Personally, working out with full and heavy breasts (you know that feeling when you have gone too long between feeding or pumping) was way too painful and I couldn't workout comfortably so I always planned to empty before I worked out. If it wasn't time to nurse, I would pump before the workout and baby could have that pumped milk.
The best thing about FIT4MOM classes is that you will see many moms feeding their babies before, after and during classes, and it is a very welcoming environment for moms to feed their babies in all forms. Seeing moms breastfeed, pump and bottle feed during and after class is completely normal and expected.
Have more questions about breastfeeding? Join me on @fit4momhq’s Instagram on August 25th at 8:30 am PST/ 11:30 am EST!
About the Author:
Hello mamas! My name is Courtney Miller and I am the face behind @TheBetterBoob! I have been a registered nurse since 2016 and became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in 2020.
Be sure to follow me on Instagram where I do my weekly Q&A in my stories as well as busting common breastfeeding myths on my "Myth Mondays" and fun facts on my "Fact Fridays".
If you have any additional questions, want to book a virtual lactation consultant as well as in-home consults (both of which may be covered under insurance) in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, or just want to say hello; message me on Instagram or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org