What’s the worst breastfeeding advice you ever heard? The one thing that every mom has in common (besides a baby, of course) is being given bad breastfeeding advice and old myths from well-intentioned family and friends. As soon as the pregnancy test shows two pink lines, aunts, grandmas, friends and even strangers at the store will begin offering advice.
It comes from a place of love, but it’s often incorrect, and it can drive a new mom downright crazy trying to figure things out. Separate the myths from the reality by not falling for any of this horrible breastfeeding advice often give to new moms and new moms-to-be.
The Worst of the Bad Breastfeeding Advice You Should Just Ignore:
1. Always feed your baby on a schedule, and never feed them closer than three hours or you will spoil them.
If life was perfect, children would never dump soggy cereal on the floor and babies would only need to eat every three hours. Life isn’t perfect, though, and breastfed babies need to eat when they are hungry rather than on a schedule. Breastfeeding often does not spoil a baby.
Breast milk is digested more easily by the body than formula, which means that breastfed babies usually eat more often than babies who drink formula. Additionally, babies tend to eat more often at night and when they are on growth spurts. Not feeding a baby often enough and sticking to a schedule can not only harm the baby’s growth, but it can decrease milk supply.
Women’s bodies make milk based on supply and demand. When the breasts are emptied, the brain signals the body to produce more. Feeding a baby on a schedule can signal the body to produce less milk. Feed baby as often as he or she needs and ignore anyone who pushes for a schedule.
2. If you have small breasts, you won’t make enough milk.
Sigh. Too many moms with a smaller bra size have been told not to even bother breastfeeding. This advice is completely wrong. Breast milk is made in the milk ducts. The number of milk ducts in the breasts has nothing to do with breast size. Larger breasts typically have more fat and breast tissue but don’t necessarily have more milk ducts. Women with smaller chests often say that it’s easier to nurse their babies than larger-breasted women as large chests may make some breastfeeding positions more complicated.
3. If your baby seems to be hungry all of the time, you probably aren’t making enough milk. Give your baby some formula to ‘top’ him or her off.
While it’s true that a breastfeeding mom never knows quite how much milk she is giving her little one, baby hunger isn’t the best indicator. Instead, check the baby’s diapers. Breastfed babies who are getting enough milk should have five to six wet diapers a day after the first week and stool should be loose.
It’s normal for babies to want to spend hours each evening nursing for long periods. Experts refer to this as “cluster feeding,” and many believe it helps prepare babies for longer stretches of sleep at night. Babies who are going through growth spurts may want to eat all of the time, too. Resist topping off with formula unless directed by a doctor as this can harm milk supply.
4. Babies should nurse for 15-20 minutes per side.
In the beginning, it’s normal for babies to nurse on a breast for 15-30 minutes before switching sides. As babies get older and better at nursing, they will decrease the amount of time that it takes to nurse.
Don’t be tempted to watch the clock to determine how long a session should last. Instead, watch for baby’s cues. Baby will pull off of the breast, their hands will relax and they will stop rooting and mouthing when it’s time to switch sides or stop a nursing session.
5. Women have been breastfeeding for thousands of years. Lactation consultants are a scam.
Breastfeeding may be the most natural way in the world to feed a baby, but it doesn’t mean it will come naturally to the new mom or the baby. Just like everything in life, breastfeeding takes practice and work, and sometimes it’s best to turn to the experts. Lactation consultants can help diagnose breastfeeding problems and help new moms (and babies) get the hang of nursing.
6. Don’t nurse your baby when you are sick. You will just pass the germs right onto him/her.
It isn’t fair or right, but nursing moms get sick, too. When this happens, it may seem counter-intuitive to keep breastfeeding, but nursing is one of the best things to keep baby healthy. Breast milk contains antibodies that strengthen a baby’s immune system, and nursing with a cold or flu will help protect the baby from that specific illness with those antibodies being made in the mom’s body. The only exceptions to this rule are moms who are HIV positive or those with certain types of food poisoning. Learn more….
7. Breastfeeding makes your boobs sag.
While many moms blame sagging breasts and loose skin on breastfeeding, it’s the pregnancy that is to blame. The hormones produced during pregnancy cause breasts to grow. Gravity then plays a role in making them sag. Don’t miss out on the amazing benefits of breastfeeding to stop breast sag, because chances are, it’s going to happen anyway (sorry).
Related Article > How to Prevent Breast Sagging During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
8. Prepare your nipples for breastfeeding by roughening them up during pregnancy.
Ummm… ouch! Grandmas and aunts who followed this false advice and scrubbed their nipples with a washcloth or pulled on them to toughen them up to prepare for breastfeeding weren’t doing themselves any favors. Each nipple contains hundreds of nerve endings, which makes roughening up the nipples downright painful.
It’s also completely unnecessary. Nipples were made for breastfeeding and are completely up for the task as-is, thankyouverymuch. No roughening up needed.
9. It’s normal for breastfeeding to hurt and for nipples to crack and bleed. Push through it until your nipples toughen up.
Not sure who has it out for nipples, but nipples should not hurt before, during or after breastfeeding. Ever. Sore nipples are a sign that babies aren’t latching correctly. When babies have the correct latch, the nipples should be in the back of their mouth. Shallow latches, where the baby is just sucking on the nipple, can cause pain over time that may lead to cracks and bleeding. Talk with a lactation consultant or visit a La Leche meeting for help with latching problems.
Pulling baby straight off the breast can harm the nipples, too. When needing to stop a breastfeeding session, don’t pull baby straight off. Instead, insert a pinky finger into the corner of the baby’s mouth and break the latch, then gently remove the breast. It is normal to feel a tingling sensation in the upper breasts during letdown and to feel a tugging sensation during nursing, but it’s never okay to feel pain.
11. Don’t let your baby use you as a pacifier.
Breastfeeding and sucking are soothing to babies. This is exactly why doctors recommend babies breastfeed soon after receiving vaccinations or a medical procedure. It can help reduce pain and promote healing. This also means that when babies just need to suck for comfort, they often turn to the breast.
Most experts recommend holding off on the pacifier until breastfeeding is well-established. Sucking on a pacifier requires different mouth movements and muscles than breastfeeding, and the baby needs plenty of opportunities to fine-tune their breastfeeding skills during the first few weeks of life.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that moms breastfeed whenever babies present with hunger cues. These cues include rooting, moving restlessly, mouthing and crying. Offering a pacifier instead of the breast may mean the baby doesn’t get enough milk. So, though many moms feel like a human pacifier, denying a baby the breast may reduce milk supply and chances to perfect nursing.
Related Article> Best Pacifiers for Breastfeeding Babies
12. You need to eat a lot of fat and drink a ton of water to make breast milk.
Though water and fat are two major components of breast milk, don’t go crazy trying to drink water and eat fat. The human body needs about 500 extra calories a day when breastfeeding. This is why some moms can lose weight while nursing; eating less than these 500 extra calories a day means the body can use its fat to make up for the deficit.
When it comes to water, many moms do find they are extra-thirsty while nursing, but it’s okay to just drink to satisfaction. Drinking too much water can throw off electrolyte levels, so it’s best to not go overboard.
13. It’s not worth it.
It’s hard, it can be isolating and it may seem like some nursing sessions are never, ever going to end. But, just like a difficult pregnancy, it’s worth it. Every drop of breast milk that babies receive strengthens their immune system, builds their brain and forges a timeless connection between mom and baby. It may seem like its hard now but most moms look back later in life and miss it! Looking down at a baby nursing who stops to smile back at you….well, it’s priceless.
- How to Prevent Breast Sagging During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
- Best Pacifiers for Breastfeeding Babies
- How to Survive Baby’s Growth Spurts