I’d like to begin by sharing that I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into when it came to breastfeeding, although I was certain that I did, because I took a class, which naturally must make you an expert, right?
Speaking of experts, I’m not a doctor, or a lactation consultant, or an RN, but I’ve worked with a wide variety of medical professionals extensively throughout my breastfeeding journey. Everything noted below is based on my researched opinion or my experience.
I would be remiss if I did not point out my generally hypocritical nature of all things parenting, before I had a kid. I take back basically everything I said. Also, as someone who does extensive research on things that I have anxiety about, I learned a lot about breastfeeding, both nursing and pumping, as I navigated the unknown waters after Theo was born.
For some people, nursing hurts. And for other people, pumping hurts. I was told in my breastfeeding class (while I was pregnant) that it was natural and would never hurt. When I was in the hospital after having Theo, I was told that it would hurt and that it was very normal. Being a first time mom, I had no idea who to believe or what to ask.
While breastfeeding is incredibly natural, and people all throughout history managed to breastfeed their children without technology or lactation consultants, you have to think about it a little deeper than that. Way back when, women may have still had issues breastfeeding. But it was very common to have wet nurses or family members (whom you probably lived with) that would nurse your children as well as their own.
I touched on it in my first post about breastfeeding, but I’ll repeat it again here. The best way that I can describe it is to imagine part of your body that’s never been really bothered before, being tugged and sucked on for 8+ hours per day. It’s not normal for it to hurt for weeks or months. The pain should eventually subside. If it hurts for more than 2 weeks or so, ask for help.
You basically would have to drink enough alcohol so that you would die of alcohol poisoning, to pass any harmful amount of alcohol in your milk, to your baby.
Your blood alcohol content is also the same alcohol content of your milk. A 0.08% blood alcohol content (legal limit to drive in the US) means that your milk has 0.08% alcohol in it. The alcohol content of orange juice is 0.09%. Non-alcoholic beer can have an alcohol content up to 0.5%.
This is not to say to just be completely irresponsible, but you don’t need to go crazy with pumping and dumping or using milk test strips, because, science.
Caffeine itself is not going to hurt your baby. Coffee might aggravate baby’s reflux. Coffee might cause baby to have disruption in sleep, and especially in the rocky newborn days, you don’t want anything to disrupt that sleep. Soda (especially diet) has terrible stuff in it, of which you may not want to expose yourself or your baby.
I took a very conservative approach in the beginning with Theo – limiting myself to one cup of coffee per day. I quickly learned that coffee/soda did not bother Theo’s reflux (it was because of his tongue tie), and it did not disrupt his sleep. Ever since then, I have not really limited my caffeine intake.
I always thought extended breastfeeding was weird. I never imagined breastfeeding past 6 months, but here we are, almost 14 months in and still going. I am not sure when we will stop, but Theo is still very much a baby right now and it makes sense for us.
Did you know that the natural age for weaning is 5 – 7 years old, if there were no outside influences? I had no idea. In the US at least, it does not make any sense having an elementary school aged child still breastfeeding, but I can certainly see how it makes sense in a developing nation. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until age 2.
You burn a lot of calories while breastfeeding – around 500 calories per day in the beginning, since your body is working hard to produce that milk! Some people shed the “baby weight” (ugh, I hate that term but more on that later) very quickly and many people attribute that to the increased calories burned while breastfeeding.
What no one talks about is how HUNGRY you are when you are breastfeeding! It’s very easy to out-eat that 500 calorie surplus every day. Also, some people (myself included) noticed a significant dip in my milk supply if attempting any sort of diet (Weight Watchers, reducing carb intake), so I either had to sacrifice my attempts at dieting or my milk supply – and I chose to preserve my milk supply.
Another theory is that some breastfeeding women’s bodies go into starvation mode for the duration that they are nursing or pumping. I have heard countless stories of women claiming that they were not able to lose the last 10-15 lbs of “baby weight” (ugh, again) until they weaned their child.
I hope you learned something here today! I really struggled finding information regarding these breastfeeding myths when I was starting out as the information is so disparate, so having all of this in one place would have greatly helped me!!
Disclaimer: This blog post contains the authors researched opinions as well as actual experiences, and not one of a medical professional. Please consult to your medical professional for their official opinion on items referenced here, and defer to them in case of any conflict.