Like a tentative relationship status on Facebook, breastfeeding is complicated. When I was pregnant, unsolicited warnings and encouragements regarding breastfeeding were bestowed upon me all the time. There was so much buzz, so much hype, about the topic from my fellow mom-friends, in parenting books, on the interwebs, and in my birthing class that I could barely separate fact from fiction, let alone the fact that someone else’s fact could be my fiction, and vice versa. I didn’t know what myths to ignore about breastfeeding, and which to believe.
Spoiler alert: I opted to remain optimistic about breastfeeding in general which, in retrospect, didn’t necessarily prepare me for what would end up being some very difficult first few weeks of parenting. But hey, my son and I came out the other side and have both enjoyed a (mostly) nice, (surprisingly) long, mutually beneficial breastfeeding journey so everyone wins, I suppose. Not only did breastfeeding provide some pretty amazing benefits, it also provided me with lessons about parenting and motherhood and feminism and always keeping my phone charged and within reach. It also reminded me that you don’t always have to take everyone else’s advice and sage wisdom to heart (however good their intentions may be when offering it), and you definitely don’t have to believe all the myths about breastfeeding that circulate.
Honestly, the majority of your time as a parent will be spent separating fact from fiction in order to make the best decision for you and your kid. Breastfeeding, of course, is no different. So, in an attempt to make the entire process that much easier, here are a few breastfeeding myths that you definitely don't have to believe.
What a relief, right? We can cross breastfeeding off the list of things the size of our breasts is relevant to. In fact, that list is pretty small, as there's only one line: your bra size. That's literally the only thing the size of your breasts change. BabyCenter has a great explanation, if you want to know more details.
What Works For Other Women Will Totally Work For You
Warning: be careful on the message boards, guys. I already know that you are a smart and savvy internet reader, but those places can be rabbit holes or incomplete or inaccurate information (as well as the occasional gem). It would make things so much easier if there was a one-size-fits all approach to breastfeeding, but I've found quite the opposite to be true, so other experiences don't always apply to yours, and vice versa.
Your Experience Will Be Nothing But Pain/Discomfort/Bliss/Tears/Feels
Once again, here's my own example: my experience was all of the above, sometimes on the same day. I went through so many ups and downs that it would be impossible to summarize with one descriptor. Unless, of course, we go back to the aforementioned Facebook reference of "It's Complicated." Truth be told, breastfeeding isn't a one-dimensional experience. It won't all be good and it won't all be bad.
Teeth Are Problematic
Teeth are not as problematic as fingernails. That's all I have to say on this important matter.
You Will Either LOVE Breastfeeding Or You Will HATE Breastfeeding
Confession: I have gone through spurts of both loving and hating breastfeeding. It evokes different responses at different stages, and the way I feel when I breastfeed now is light years from how I felt when my son was a newborn. I'm not a lactation consultant or a medical professional, but if my own anecdotal experience is any indication, much like appearing on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette; breastfeeding can be a wild emotional journey.
You HAVE To Breastfeed For A Certain Amount Of Time
I've seen a number of different recommendations for how long to breastfeed, though they're just that: recommendations. Formula, pumps, and bottles all exist for a reason and, in the end, what's best for you and your baby might not fit some predetermined recommendation.
Every Woman Can Breastfeed If She Tries
Yeah, that's not true. I know you either will or have already heard about how "natural" breastfeeding is and, yes, it is a natural act that shouldn't be sexualized or stigmatized. However, there are so many women who can't breastfeed so, for them, breastfeeding isn't natural at all. There are medical reasons why a woman can't breastfeed as well as emotional and mental reasons why a woman can't breastfeed. Every woman is different.
Your Breastfeeding Experience Reflects Your Mothering Abilities
Um, no. Sorry. I know some awesome, awesome moms that are unable to breastfeed as long as they wanted, as much as they wanted, or at all. Besides, we all know that it's how quickly you can change a diaper that really determines just how good you actually are as a parent.*