The first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week, making now the perfect time to bust these common myths:
MYTH: You can’t breastfeed while you’re pregnant.
FACT: Some people think the secretion of the hormone oxytocin during breastfeeding can trigger early labor, but research shows it’s fine for women with uncomplicated pregnancies. “A healthy pregnant uterus is not receptive to oxytocin surges until the baby’s ready to be born,” says International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Diana Cassar-Uhl. Some exceptions: if you’ve had past issues with preterm labor or cervical dilation, or if you need to be on pelvic rest.
MYTH: Breastfeeding when you’re sick will get your baby sick, too.
FACT: Moms should breastfeed as often as possible when sick. “You’ll be giving your baby the antibodies that can protect her against any illness you have—whether it’s a cold, flu, food poisoning, or anything else— but not the illness itself,” Cassar-Uhl says.
MYTH: It’s unsafe to take medications or herbal supplements while breastfeeding.
FACT: It depends on what you’re taking. Most common medications, including antidepressants taken for postpartum depression, are fine, says Cassar-Uhl. Many non-stimulant herbal or food supplements are okay, too, as long as they don’t decrease your milk supply (lemon balm, peppermint, and chickweed are a few that can do this). “We know for sure that breastfeeding is better than not breastfeeding, so even ‘less than ideal’ milk [that might have trace amounts of medication] is still superior to anything else,” says Cassar-Uhl.