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BreastfeedingFeature

Breastfeeding Myths Busted! (Part Two)

Michelle Swadling

It’s always a mother’s choice. But for the mums who do want to breastfeed, bad advice can be the difference between success and failure. I breastfed my two children for over 12 months each, and during this time I was given well-meaning advice that wasn’t always factual. I was told that my diet would have to be very restrictive, that it was ”gross” to breastfeed past 6 months and that, maybe, my baby “just needed a bottle”.

In the second edition of this two part series, I take a look at a few more misconceptions about breastfeeding, so let’s pick up from last time and bust some myths!

Myth #4: Breastfeeding mums need to eat a bland diet

During my two pregnancies, I chose to follow the recommended eating guidelines for pregnant women. My diet was a little restrictive—no soft cheeses, no cold deli meats, etc. I remember one friend observing, “You will have to restrict your diet even more when you are breastfeeding!” Many breastfeeding women avoid chocolate, cabbage and chilli, amongst other foods, because they believe it affects their breast milk and in turn, will affect their bub. However, this assumption is usually incorrect. If there is no family history of allergies, generally women can eat whatever they like. It’s always wise to limit caffeine and alcohol intake, however both can still be enjoyed in moderation.

There are instances of exclusively breastfed babies with allergies or intolerances, but the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) suggests to first rule out, “low milk supply, lactose overload from too much milk and medical conditions, including gastro-oesophageal reflux” before eliminating foods from your diet. For other breastfeeding sensitives, take a read of this.

Myth #5: I’m not making enough breastmilk in the evenings- my baby is feeding constantly

Many babies “cluster feed”- feeding often or continuously over a few hours. This may occur in the evenings, however this does not mean your supply is low. The fat content of breastmilk changes throughout the day and across a feed. By cluster feeding, babies are receiving high fat content feeds. Ingrid McKenzie explains, “So these cluster feeds are performing a really important role- baby is getting high fat milk. It doesn’t mean a woman doesn’t have enough milk, she’s stimulating her milk supply.” The more the breast is drained, the more milk is produced. Introducing a bottle at this time may mean baby is missing out on the high fat content milk. Our tip? Prepare for this part of the day. Have a glass of water nearby (for yourself!), a comfortable chair and a support network that allows you to feed bub for a few hours without distractions.

Myth #6: My breast milk is of low quality

I have heard many women say that the quality of their milk is low because their baby is feeding often or does not appear satisfied. It is often why mothers will contemplate switching to formula. Registered nutritionist Kate Freeman from The Healthy Hub says, “It is very rare for a mother to have poor quality milk. One of the main factors in milk production has to do with proper attachment and adequate stimulation of the breast, rather than the mother’s body just not making good quality milk.”

“Factors like stress and anxiety play a large role too in successful breastfeeding.

“Dietary intake needs to be severely restricted for a prolonged period of time to actually affect milk production. Even women in third world countries on very poor diets have good milk quality. In third world cultures where breastfeeding is the norm, children are often very healthy and well-nourished until they are weaned and then they become malnourished as the diet from food is inadequate – one of the reasons why the WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends breastfeeding till 2 years of age.”

As mentioned in Part One of this series, at the end of the day it is important to keep in mind we are all different and our babies are, too. We can talk about issues generally, but as Ingrid says, “There are so many variables, there’s no blanket rules. It’s pretty much each individual and each individual baby.”

Local Breastfeeding support contacts

Disclaimer: This article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice.

Information for this article was sourced from local accredited professionals including, Ingrid Mckenzie from New Lives — a local Lactation Consultant, accredited by the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (ICBLC), Childbirth Educator (Grad Dip CBE) and a member of the Australian Breastfeeding Association and resident HerCanberra registered nutritionist Kate Freeman from The Healthy Hub also contributes to the myth-busting process. 

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Michelle Swadling

Michelle worked in radio before moving to Canberra several years ago. She loves the opportunities the city offers, whilst still having that "country town feel". Michelle's life is a whirlwind of full time work, studying and raising two active little boys with her husband. More about the Author

  • Kat

    I don’t know that the world really needs more articles like this out there, articles that encourage women to throw themselves into breastfeeding 150% as though it’s their effort alone that determines the success of the breastfeeding relationship, and inevitably makes them feel bad if it doesn’t succeed. But perhaps if we are going to re-hash the same old story, it’s worth mentioning that sometimes you really aren’t making enough milk (yes it’s possible) so you aren’t crazy for thinking you aren’t, despite what feel-good lactation celebration websites tell you. AND if you don’t feel like sitting down for a “few hours without distractions” every night to feed your cluster-feeding baby, that’s okay too, cause frankly I think that would have tipped me over the edge when I had a small baby, sleep deprived and utterly shocked at being a new mother, with society telling me all good mothers breastfed.

    “In third world countries where breastfeeding is the norm”, women who encounter breastfeeding problems have assistance from a whole village of breastfeeding mothers. Perhaps this makes it easier to breastfeed children until they’re two? Pretty different to a first world norm isn’t it? So why do we try to apply that to our lifestyles and silently disapprove when we can’t meet that standard?

    And perhaps the most important point worth focusing on is the fact that a happy mummy is incredibly important here, and a happy mummy almost always equals a happy baby whether it’s a breast fed baby, or a breast/bottle baby or a bottle fed baby.

  • Melanie Henrikson

    Thanks for this excellent and informative article Michelle. Every day I see Mums asking questions on parenting forums which directly relate to these myths. Unfortunately, many friends, family members and even health professionals are giving poor advice and perpetuating the myths. An educated Mum has the best chance at a successful breastfeeding relationship and knows how and where to get help if things are not going well.

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