Common Breastfeeding Misunderstandings

Breastfeeding can be one of the most challenging parts of being a new mother. There is a lot of pressure to do it, to do it well and to reap all kinds of benefits like bonding with your child, providing the best possible nutrients to your child etc. etc. etc.

Together Family recently spoke to International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Sara Chana, about some pressing issues surrounding breastfeeding.

TF: What is the most common mistake or misunderstanding that breastfeeding mothers have?

SC: Oh my gosh, I’m glad you asked that because this happens ALL THE TIME! The biggest mistake that I see, breastfed babies gain a lot of weight between 0 and 5 months. And very often babies that are fully breastfed stop gaining a lot of weight after five months. Then doctors go berserk and so do moms. But breastfed babies and formula fed babies gain weight at different rates. So if I’ve got a baby who starts slowing down at five months in their weight gain but they’ve gained enough weight in the first five months, that’s when women and doctors say start adding solids. And I say NO WAY! And this is my philosophy why: babies get nice and pudgy from 0-5 months if they’re fully breastfed and they’re doing well. Then they put on a bit of weight between 5 and 7 months. Then they start crawling. And they start losing a lot of that body fat and they pull themselves to standing, and they start gaining muscle structure. So if babies gained a lot of weight between 0 and 5 months and continued to gain a lot of weight from 5 to 7 they would have a harder time crawling and a harder time standing up. So my breastfed babies that have good internal development from 0-6 months, I say let them go. They will slow down [gaining weight] between 5 and 7 months but it doesn’t mean they need solids, it means they are preparing to crawl and stand up. If babies are not doing well between 0-6 weeks we know we have a problem then, be it a problem with the mom or a problem with the baby. But if that baby has done gloriously until five months and hasn’t had bouts of diarrhea, hasn’t had Strep Throat, hasn’t had ear infections, the mom is doing very well, you can’t get me to add solids before nine months, you can’t.

TF: What other common mistakes or misconceptions do you see with breastfeeding mothers?

SC: When the breasts start to go back to their previous shape and size, then women feel like they don’t have any more breast milk. So as the baby gets a little more independent the breasts go back to smaller shape and women are sure they have no more breast milk. And that’s wrong. Their breasts are fine. The breasts will get very soft and smushy because the breast milk is only made upon compression. So women need to just know that they have enough milk even when their breasts get floppy. And, sometimes when babies are around six months, they are so proficient on the breast that the mothers say they have no milk. Then they weigh their breasts after nursing (I have a very high-tech scale here to weight breasts before and after feeding) and it turns out the babies are taking six ounces of milk in three and half minutes! Did you know that an eighteen-pound baby can take in a minimum of fifty ounces of milk in a day? So that’s another thing, when women feel there’s no milk left, there’s usually tons.

By Sara Chana Silverstein, IBCLC, BA, Herbalist and Student of Homeopathy. She is a licensed Lactation Consultant helping women and babies with breastfeeding problems. She also works with children and adults with chronic ear and strep infections, stomach problems and emotional issues. She can be reached at 718-467-1455.