If your breastfeeding your baby, it helps to separate truth from myth

Every mum who’s ever breastfed their baby will offer you advice and opinion. Some of this shared ‘information’ may be helpful, but chances are much of it won't be. There are quite a lot of myths surrounding breastfeeding that it can be problematic for women to know what's true and what's not.

As a parent, it’s your job to keep yourself well-informed. It is during the nursing stages when your baby is constantly attached to your breast. And because of this, you can’t help but sometimes worry that the things you’re doing to take care of yourself might affect your baby’s growth and development too.

Below are some of the most common headscratchers and their corresponding truths so we can finally get definitive answers.

You can’t use antiperspirant when breastfeeding

Not necessarily. Aluminum, the sweat-preventing ingredient in antiperspirants, is toxic for your breast tissue and breast milk. While you can always choose an aluminum-free deodorant, the precaution isn’t necessary. There’s no evidence to suggest a nursing mother should not use antiperspirant, as aluminum is naturally commonly found in the environment, so most of your exposure comes from food, not skin products, and barely any reaches breast milk anyway, so it’s safe.

Small breasts won't produce enough milk

As it turns out, size doesn't matter! The breast tissue you need to nurse a baby grows in response to pregnancy regardless of your breast size. It is in this so-called functional tissue—rather than in the fatty tissue that is responsible for breast size—that the milk ducts are located. So rest assured that whether you're an A or D cup, your breasts are capable of providing your baby with enough milk she needs.

You shouldn't take any pain relievers when breastfeeding

Don’t suffer. Pain relievers and fever reducers such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen are generally okay for breastfeeding mums, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), though every medicine has its benefits and dangers. But there are some over-the-counter meds that it’s best to avoid. For instance, decongestants can reduce milk production, while antihistamines can make you sleepy and mar your abilities. For any medicine you take, it’s best to check with your doctor first.

Coffee is bad for breastfeeding mums

Actually, you can drink up to 3 cups a day. Don’t be afraid to pour yourself a cup of coffee, especially after a rough night of frequent wake-ups. Research has shown that the amount of caffeine your baby would get is only a small percentage of what you drink, so it’s generally safe. Just make sure to maintain one to three servings of caffeine spread throughout the day. At higher doses, caffeine from breast milk can accrue in a baby’s body, which will make her fidgety and bad-tempered. 

Breastfeeding makes your baby clingy and dependent

On the contrary. Studies have shown that babies who have benefited from the attachment of breastfeeding tend to be more self-regulating later in life.  

You can drink alcohol as long as you cleanse and get exercise

Don’t risk it. You may not want to pass on wine, but even a small amount of alcohol does pass into breast milk. This can alter the flavour of your milk, acquainting your baby with the taste of alcohol. Furthermore, alcohol intake can also reduce milk production and can even impact infant brain development.

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