If you are looking forward to your baby's arrival or are already breastfeeding, myths about this practice can lead to confusion, mistakes and undue worry. You can write off these four common ideas about breastfeeding as nothing but old wives' tales or, in a couple cases, wishful thinking.
1. Breastfeeding Permanently Alters the Size, Shape and Sensitivity of Your Breasts
Many women are concerned about the changes to their bodies' appearance during and after a pregnancy. It's true that many women experience changes to the shape and size of their breasts during pregnancy, and these changes may remain for a period after the baby is delivered. The process of breastfeeding will not, however, directly impact the size, shape or sensitivity of the breasts. In fact, breastfeeding has been shown to be good for the health of the breasts; studies have determined that women who breastfeed are somewhat less likely to develop breast cancer later in their lives.
2. It's Important to Prepare the Nipples
Many women make an effort to prepare their nipples by toughening them in one way or another before the breastfeeding period begins. There are a number of techniques for doing this, most of which involve attempting to create callouses on the nipples before the baby begins to breastfeed. In reality, most women experience no difference in sensation when attempting to prepare the nipples as opposed to not taking this approach, so it's better to avoid hurting yourself unnecessarily.
3. Breastfeeding Is Easy
Some women become concerned when they find that it feels uncomfortable or strange to breastfeed. There is a common misconception that breastfeeding should come easily simply because it is natural. In reality, many women feel uncomfortable with breastfeeding, and it's not at all abnormal to consider stopping. Fortunately, there are resources available at your local hospital and through other organizations that support expecting and new mothers to make breastfeeding as comfortable as possible for the mothers and babies alike.
4. Breastfeeding Stops You from Getting Pregnant
It's a common misconception that women cannot get pregnant while they are breastfeeding. In reality, the breastfeeding period tends to overlap with the post-pregnancy period in which the menstrual cycle is disrupted. However, as soon as a woman begins her menstrual cycle again after delivering a baby, she is able to get pregnant once again. Breastfeeding is not a good indication of whether you can get pregnant.
For more information about breastfeeding, consult with a doctor or specialist in childcare.