As a Midwife and Lactation Consultant of 11 years there are things I have seen surprise parents time and time and time again.
Lots about life with a newborn is much different than we expect. Some of this is obvious, some of this is a little more obscure.
I wanted to collect some of my favorite facts and myths together for you to take a look at.
There are thousands and I could go on forever BUT a lot of you may be new parents and I’m sure your time is limited!
Lets hope you can get through these 8 before your next feed.
Please add your favorite breastfeeding facts in the comments!
Fact – Nobody has 2 boobs the same!
The vast majority of people have 1 boob bigger than the other.
It’s been written that approximately 65% of women produce more milk in their right breast vs their left.
You might have never known this but size difference can become a LOT more obvious when you’re pregnant or nursing.
It’s much rarer to have 2 boobs that produce the exact same amount.
Fact – breastfeeding saves lives
The antibodies in human milk protect newborn babies from countless infections. It’s now well known babies who are breastfed have more effective immune systems.
Included in the list of illnesses breast milk protects against are the two leading causes of child mortality worldwide – diarrhoea and pneumonia.
Fact – Babies who breastfeed can sleep better
I know it sounds made up – but breastmilk helps your baby develop a circadian rhythm (our internal body clock).
Studies have shown that the hormonal changes in breastmilk throughout the day mimic the hormonal changes we as adults go through that set our sleep and wake patterns.
This isn’t something that happens right away. As any of you breastfeeding right now or in the past can attest to.
So although this is something that can take time, there is a lot of evidence and studies that are ongoing.
Unfortunately there is still no substitute for your baby feeding through the night when they are going through a growth spurt…. Maybe one day?!
Myth – Your newborn will eat every 3-4 hours
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I feel like a lot of you may have figured this out for yourselves by now.
I always believed new babies feed every 3-4 hours, so do many other new parents I meet.
This usually means that if we have a baby that feeds more often than that we feel like we’re doing something wrong.
The truth is breastfed newborns were never supposed to feed on that schedule.
When your baby is establishing your supply and navigating their way through multiple growth spurts in the early days they will feed randomly.
The majority of the time these feedings will be MUCH closer together than 3-4 hours, especially at night when they can be constant.
New moms need to prepare to feed on demand and often a lot more than they expect. Your baby will dictate the early days, it is intense, but it doesn’t last forever.
Surround yourself with support and take help that is offered.
Your job in those first few weeks is exactly the same as your baby’s. Sleep + eat, everything else can wait!
Fact – Getting support makes a difference
The World Health Organization recognizes that families who get professional support during the early days benefit in many ways.
They are more likely to breastfeed for longer.
They are less likely to suffer with postpartum mood disorders.
They are less likely to need trips to the emergency room.
Many countries have systems in place where the government provide support to new families for free. This is usually in the form of home visits from a Midwife in the first 6 weeks.
If your country doesn’t have a program like this I encourage you to think about what postpartum support you might need BEFORE the baby arrives. Meet someone you like and put plans in place while you’re still pregnant. You won’t regret it!
Check out my blog about getting help from an IBCLC.
Fact – You’ll burn extra calories!
My all time favorite. You WILL burn at least 500 extra calories per day for the duration of your breastfeeding journey!
Breastfeeding will help you slim down faster, after all it takes a lot of energy to liquify yourself ladies!
As well as burning calories, in the early days the hormones released when nursing help your uterus to contract back down to it’s pre pregnancy size.
Mother nature’s workout!
Click to read more about what to eat while you’re breastfeeding.
Myth – If it’s hot my baby will need water
Although just 1 teaspoon of your breastmilk contains billions of good bacteria crammed with immune properties and lots of other things we may well never fully understand, it’s basic composition is fairly simple.
- 3-5% fat,
- 0.8 – 0.9% protein,
- 6 – 7% carbohydrate,
- 0.2% minerals
- And a LOT of water.
- The composition remains similar throughout the day but what’s actually in the milk NEVER stops changing.
So if it’s hot, don’t reach for the tap. Let your baby tell you what they need. You may notice they feed more. This is to quench their thirst.
Rain or shine, hot or cold, your body and your baby will work out what they need. Your breastmilk is 100% perfect every time.
Myth – I’m the only one that’s finding this hard!
In 11 years I have NEVER met a family that said to me “This new baby thing is actually much easier than I thought.”
For a lot of families the frequent feeding and sleep deprivation is much harder to deal with than they ever expected.
I never leave a new mum without telling them ‘I know it doesn’t make it any easier right now, but you’re not alone in this, the things you’re struggling with today are shared by millions of new parents across the world at the same time, in the same way’
Even if you spent your entire pregnancy learning about what to expect, when these things actually happen it’s still hard.
Tired is tired, anxious is anxious BUT know that you’re not alone.
Get out of the house, find your people, talk to other parents. You’ll quickly realize you’re in this with A LOT of other people.
My name is Marie I’m a board certified lactation consultant living in San Diego! You can read more about me here. If you’re a new mom, soon to be new mom or know someone who could benefit from some friendly help or advice please see my services or send them my article about getting the most out of your lactation consultant!