Image by surlygirl
By Tanner, Contributing Writer
So, you just had a baby. Well, first off congratulations! Everyone is over the moon excited about your new bundle. You are enjoying your baby moon and spending your days trying to understand how you made something so perfect. Your every second is consumed with baby snuggles and you’re just floating on cloud nine.
Then, out of the blue, everyone comes out of the woodwork with their well-meaning advice about how to raise your new baby and all the dos and don’ts of having a newborn.
I’ll be the first to tell you, it’s very overwhelming and most of it is not at all fact-based; it’s more “old wives tales” than actual good advice. So, let’s debunk some of the most common postpartum myths!
Postpartum Myths Debunked
Myth #1: You are spoiling your baby by holding and loving them too much
Debunked: Wrong. Nope. Entirely false. I’m throwing the bull crap card out on that one.
Your baby just spent nine months inside of you. Nine whole months only hearing your heart beat, feeling your body temperature, smelling your smells, and being held only by you. You’re her constant and the only thing she’s known her entire existence. She was warm and confined and always cared for inside of you. Now, all of a sudden, she’s out in this cold, bright, open world without any notice her whole world was about to be changed entirely.
Her crying when you put her down or when someone else holds her is not manipulation or signs of her being spoiled. It is a true need of some kind. Her only means of communication is crying. Just because she is fed and has a clean diaper does not mean she has no needs.
She could be scared, cold, sleepy, sad, or even just overstimulated. She may not have an “actual” need… She may just need YOU. She isn’t manipulating you to be held, she just needs her momma. Her constant. Her everything. So, go to her. A hundred times out of a hundred go to her and soak in those snuggles.
Myth #2: Crying is good for a baby’s lungs and development
Debunked: Again, false. As stated above, your baby is crying for a reason. Babies aren’t little humans programmed to ruin your life who cry to get you to do what they want. Babies cry because they need something. Even if that need is something so simple as a snuggle, they need something and leaving them to cry is actually detrimental to their health.
Leaving babies to cry it out when you believe they are fine is not benefiting them in any way, including developing their lungs. Letting them cry is doing more harm than good. (You can read some of the dangers of letting your child cry it out HERE)
Myth #3: Your baby should be sleeping through the night
Debunked: Biologically, your baby wakes for several reasons. First, the entire sleep cycle is only 90 minutes long. So that means your baby goes from light sleep to deep sleep back to light sleep in an hour and a half. When they get back to that light sleep phase, they may need helping falling back into that deep sleep. They may realize they’re hungry or thirsty or again, needing a snuggle. They may wake up and feel that their diaper is wet or soiled. Lots of things can distract them from falling into another sleep cycle and they may need your attention before they can get back into it.
Another reason babies biologically are meant to wake up throughout the night is to keep momma’s milk supply up. Nursing provides such an intuitive relationship between momma and baby and baby has a vital part in the nursing relationship too. Momma’s job is to make the milk and baby’s job is to keep that milk supply up to nourish herself. The way to keep that milk flowing is to nurse, nurse, nurse… Even throughout the night. (Plus, young babies digest milk so quickly and are growing so rapidly that they *need* to eat every couple of hours. This can continue for months, until their growth slows down and they are able to eat solid foods.)
I am 24 years old and I still wake up a few times in the night to use the bathroom or get a drink. Sometimes even dreams wake me up. How can we possibly expect a brand new baby to sleep through the night when their bladders and stomachs are so much smaller than ours when most of us wake up at least once in the night for a drink or snack or a bathroom break? So, yes, this is entirely false.
Myth #4: Your newborn should be on a nursing schedule
Debunked: Your newborn should be cluster feeding. Cluster feeding is where baby is attached to the boobies for what seems like hours on end… Sometimes even while they are sleeping. Going back to the vital role both momma and baby play in the nursing relationship, baby is trying to get that milk to come in to nourish herself.
Nursing is also a huge form of comfort. It may honestly seem like you’re nursing constantly at first, which is probably true. But, I promise, it’s for a reason. So don’t stress yourself out trying to get your baby to only nurse every two or three hours because it’s not going to do anything but stress the both of you out. A schedule *should* come some day, but every baby is different and every single nursing relationship is different.
Myth #5: If you aren’t pumping ounces and ounces of milk at a time, your baby isn’t nourished well enough
Debunked: Pumping is absolutely no indication of your supply of milk. A breast pump is a man made tool and does not even closely mimic a baby’s natural suckle. Some women can pump ounces on end, and some only pump one or two (and some don’t respond to a pump at all). This truly is not an indication of your supply… It’s just an indication of how your body responds to a breast pump.
The only true indication of baby getting enough milk and enough nourishment is the amount of wet and poopy diapers they have within a day. If baby is peeing at least 4 times a day and pooping at least once a day at first and is gaining around a quarter to a half an ounce a day, you have a good milk supply.
Myth#6: You are nursing your baby too much
Debunked: See cluster feeding above. Nursing is all supply and demand. If your baby is nursing constantly, it is because she knows she needs more milk. If she nurses frequently the day prior, momma will have an increase in milk the next day. Baby demands more, momma supplies more. The same will happen if baby nurses a little bit less. The less she nurses is a little bit less milk momma will make. It truly is an amazing relationship and bond between the two and is so incredible how two bodies work together so well!
Image by surlygirl
Myth #7: Absolutely no sex for 6 weeks.
Debunked: The rule of thumb I was told was when your postpartum bleeding stops and you feel up to it, go for it. Plain and simple!
Myth #8: Your baby should absolutely not sleep with you.
Debunked: Nope, that’s wrong information. This baby just spent 9 months inside of you. They shouldn’t have to sleep on their own the second they come out.
Speaking from an anatomical stand point, baby sleeping with her momma has several benefits. Mommy can regulate baby’s body temperature which ensures baby won’t get cold or overheat. Mommy regulates baby’s breathing by baby mimicking her momma’s breathing rhythms which prevents baby from randomly stopping breathing and in turn helps prevents SIDS.
Both baby and momma sleep more soundly when together. Momma can relax knowing she subconsciously is hearing her baby’s breaths and heart beat and baby can sleep better knowing she is near her momma… Or, again, her constant. Nursing is much easier when baby sleeps with mom because neither have to fully wake up to do their part in nursing and they can both go back to sleep quicker.
Myth #9: You’re going to roll over on your baby if she sleeps with you
Debunked: Going off of our myth above, co-sleeping is biologically better for both mom and baby. Some safety guidelines should be put into action, but, safe co-sleeping is great for mom and baby. Nursing your baby makes you more in tune with her. I’m not saying moms who formula feed cannot co-sleep because that’s not true (some do recommend avoiding co-sleeping if you are not breastfeeding, because these mamas don’t have the same natural instincts about baby’s position as breastfeeding moms do). But, moms who do breastfeed are very in sync with their baby and like I said, their bodies work together. This makes mommy very alert to her baby’s position and well being at all times.
When co-sleeping, blankets and pillows should be moved away from baby’s face to prevent suffocation. Mom’s hair should be tied back for the same reason. If dad or mom is a violent sleeper or a sleep walker, co-sleeping may not be safe. Mom or dad should not be taking medications that make them drowsy or have had alcohol before bedtime. If safe guidelines are followed, your baby is very safe in your bed and in your arms. (Read more about safe co-sleeping HERE)