12 Breastfeeding Myths That Should Have Died With the Dinosaurs

One dozen less things to worry about!

As a new mom, you will hear LOTS of conflicting advice! Breastfeeding advice is no exception. Your time is way too precious to spend hours Googling answers. You have way more important things to do..like SLEEP!

To help you out, we have created a list of 12 of the most common breastfeeding myths. You can dismiss this “Dirty Dozen” outright and save your time for cuddling.

1. Mothers need to prepare their nipples during pregnancy

There is no need to do any nipple preparation! Years ago, friction with a rough towel was recommended prenatally but it was found to damage nipple tissue. The best way to prepare for breastfeeding is to learn as much as you can before baby arrives.

2. It is normal for breastfeeding to hurt

Not true! It is common for women’s nipples to be tender in the early days of breastfeeding. This tenderness, however, should last for only a few seconds after baby latches. You should not feel pinching or pain that makes you curl your toes. If you’d like to learn more about latching your baby, start here.

Note: If your nipples hurt throughout the feeding, ask for help from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

3. Baby gassy? Must be something mom ate!

When baby is fussy, the easiest thing to blame is the mother’s diet! The foods a mother eats, however, do not give her baby gas. Many of the foods traditionally thought to make babies gassy are staple foods in other countries, eaten by breastfeeding women without problems.

Spicy foods may flavor a mother’s milk; this is thought to be an early introduction to different tastes. Formula, on the other hand, always tastes the same.

4. Many mothers do not produce enough breast milk

One of the most common reasons women stop breastfeeding (or begin to give formula supplements) is the worry they do not have enough milk. Most of the time, they do indeed have enough milk. If an exclusively breastfed baby is gaining weight well, mom does not have a milk supply problem.

Early use of bottles, pacifiers or scheduling breastfeeds can however lead to a reduction of milk supply. Correcting the reason for low milk supply can help to increase the milk supply.

In rare cases, a woman may have insufficient milk-making tissue in her breasts. This is thought to occur in less than 1% of all women.

5. Pumping your breasts will tell you how much milk you have

The amount of milk you can pump is not a good indicator of the amount of milk available for your baby. A pump extracts milk by suction only, whereas a baby uses both suction and compression (a gentle squeezing pressure.) A baby is therefore much more efficient.

Some mothers may find it difficult to “let down” to their pump. The anxiety and pressure to obtain milk can sometimes further decrease the amount of milk obtained.

6. A baby should nurse for 15 minutes on each breast at a feed

There is no set amount of time a baby SHOULD feed. Feeding length varies widely from feed to feed and from baby to baby. Some babies may finish a feed within 5 minutes. Other babies prefer to linger over their meal, and may feed for almost an hour at a time. Follow your baby’s cues and let him decide the pace and length of a feed.

7. A breastfed baby needs water on hot days

A breastfed baby does not need anything other than breast milk for the first 6 months, even in hot weather. Breast milk is made up of 88% water and is a great thirst quencher.

Giving baby water can cause these problems:

  • Baby may not gain enough weight.
  • Baby may become sick from electrolyte imbalance.
  • Baby may become more jaundiced. (Water has no bulk so baby will stool less. Fewer stools can mean baby will become more jaundiced.)
  • Baby will suck less at the breast, which may decrease your milk supply.

8.  If a baby is not gaining well, mother’s breast milk may be poor quality

Women consistently produce good quality breast milk. In situations where there is a severe shortage of food, the overall volume of breast milk may be reduced but the quality will be maintained.

9. Women must drink milk to make breast milk

Mothers do not need to drink milk in order to produce breast milk. Cow’s milk is a great source of calcium but many other foods contains calcium as well (e.g. yogurt, hard cheeses, broccoli, tofu and almonds). Even if your diet is low in calcium, you will continue to produce calcium rich breast milk by taking the calcium from your own stores.

10. A woman has no milk until 3 days after birth

The first milk a mother produces is called colostrum. It is an amazing fluid, full of antibodies and properties that are important for a baby’s health. This thick yellowish fluid is present in small volumes, perfect for the small size of baby’s tummy.

Around the third day after birth, a mom will feel her breasts becoming heavier. The milk will begin to change from a golden to a whitish color and is available in larger quantities.

11. You need to "pump and dump" after drinking alcohol

Pumping does not speed up the elimination of alcohol from breast milk. The amount of alcohol in breast milk mirrors a women’s blood alcohol level. As mom’s blood alcohol level rises, alcohol passes from her blood stream into her milk. As her blood level lowers, alcohol passes from the milk back into her bloodstream.

12. You cannot get pregnant while nursing

If a mother is breastfeeding exclusively, night and day with no bottle or soother use, the return of her first period can be delayed for 6 months. Breastfeeding, however, is not a foolproof method of birth control. You will ovulate before you start menstruating!

So there you have it. 12 pieces of misinformation you can ignore. Give your baby all of your attention instead!




RELATED: The Ups and Downs of My Breastfeeding Experience and Why I Didn't Quit

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 new families in their hometown of Saskatoon. They’ve survived sleepless nights, working mom guilt, and the pressure of “doing it all” while still having toilet paper in the house.

Cindy and Jana are dedicated to helping new parents feel more confident and relaxed. They bring research-based answers to new families’ questions through their website, cindyandjana.com, their online prenatal breastfeeding course, Simply Breastfeeding, and their app,  NuuNest,.

Find them on Twitter @CindyandJana, Facebook Cindy and Jana, and Pinterest Cindy and Jana.