Urban myth is a modern phenomenon birthed from the internet age. The “suburban myth” is what I call modern wives’ tales birthed by The Age of Aquarius. The following “suburban myths” about breastfeeding are considered to be truth by many of my patients. These myths are fear-feeders and joy-stealers. For each myth, I have offered a more hopeful alternative for new parents to consider.
Suburban myth: Breastfeeding is weird.
Truth: Breastfeeding is normal. Breastfeeding is not a political movement, it is the normal method of infant feeding. It’s not about four year olds in airports; it’s about four month olds in restaurants.
Suburban myth: Breastfeeding is motherhood.
Truth: Breastfeeding is a rewarding part of motherhood for lots of women, but it does not define motherhood. The decision to breastfeed is intensely personal and will require support, especially from Dad. Women who choose to formula feed have made a nutrition choice, not a love choice.
Suburban myth: Breastfeeding just comes naturally.
Truth: Breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn’t come naturally. Like many things worth doing, there is a learning curve associated with breastfeeding. Learning takes time and practice.
Suburban myth: Breastfeeding just works or it doesn’t.
Truth: Breastfeeding families need the right help at the right time. When a challenge arises, see an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) for assessment of mom and baby and a care plan that fits your situation. We can help find a solution or help you wean safely. Either way, we’re here to make your life easier.
Suburban myth: Breastfeeding hurts.
Truth: It doesn’t hurt for long because if it did, the human race would have been a short lived experiment. If it’s painful, something’s wrong. See an IBCLC. It shouldn’t hurt.
Suburban myth: You have to breastfeed for six months to a year to benefit the baby.
Truth: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be fed breastmilk for six months to a year but, any amount of breast milk is a benefit to the baby…even one feeding.
Of all the choices you will face in parenting, method of infant feeding is just one of the first. It won’t be the most difficult decision you face, so don’t make yourself nuts over it. You do, however, need to hear the truth on the matter to make an informed decision, so be careful to “consider the source”, as my grandparents used to say. The voices of fear and guilt are out there and they like to turn up the volume. Search for the voices of hope and joy and see how it turned out for them.
Gloria Dudney, RN, IBCLC, RLC is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant and has taught new parent classes for more than 14 years.
Gloria Dudney, RN, IBCLC, RLC