This weekend I was teaching a childbirth education class and we were talking about breastfeeding. One of my students asked if it was true that breastfeeding moms should stay away from broccoli because it would make their babies gassy and fussy. When she asked, she made it clear that she was skeptical about the information she’d been given. I’m so glad she asked this question because we were able to dispel this particular myth, discuss some more accurate information, and also talk about the general culture of myth sharing that goes in when it comes to birth and parenting.
There are so many myths flying around about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and breastfeeding. Our mothers, sisters, fathers, partners, friends, acquaintances, and sometimes even health care providers will sometimes offer up information as fact when it’s really not supported by any evidence. As a newly pregnant person, it can be challenging to sift through all of the “information”, determining what’s fact and what’s not. To further complicate things, many first time parents-to-be don’t even know that myths are out there, don’t know to look for them, and accept everything they hear as truth. It’s a vulnerable time for families, and I don’t expect people to know what they don’t know. As a doula and childbirth educator, I take the job of myth buster very seriously. One of my main goals is to make sure that new parents-to-be and new parents have accurate, evidence-based information from which to make decisions. This doesn’t mean everybody will make the same decision, but it means that everybody I work with is at least starting from a place of truth.
So how can you protect yourself from these myths? How can you be accurately informed about your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences?
- Beware of online “mom-to-mom” forums. These groups can be excellent for building community, hearing what’s worked for some people and not worked for others, getting new ideas, and being supported. They are, however, not the best place for getting dependable and accurate information. Many people report their own personal experiences as fact, only share part of their story, and/or unknowingly pass on myths that they believe to be true.
- Take a good childbirth education class. Childbirth educators are trained to teach accurate, evidence-based information to our students. We are also trained to recognize our limits and to be honest when we don’t know the answer. From there, we can help you find evidence-based information to answer your question. As in any profession, there may be some educators out there who are less reliable. If you’re concerned about this, be sure to ask your potential educator about their credentials, training, experience, and/or request testimonials from previous students.
- Hire a doula. Just like childbirth educators, doulas are trained to provide accurate information to our clients. We are also expected to continue to educate ourselves and stay current on new research. If we can’t answer a question, we have enough familiarity with different sources to find one that’s reliable, evidence-based, and reputable.
- Be a critical thinker. If something doesn’t sound quite right, trust that doubt and do some further research. Find a reputable book or website to answer your question. Ask your childbirth educator or doula. Ask your care provider. And just keep thinking critically, questioning things when the need arises.
What are some myths you’ve heard about pregnancy, birth, and parenting? Did you find yourself getting thrown off by any myths during your journey to parenting?