Biggest Breastfeeding Myths Lactation Consultants Are Tired of Hearing
Breastfeeding myths are all around us! Lactation consultants hear them time and time again as they meet with their clients.
Some IBCLCs to share the BIGGEST breastfeeding myth that they hear all the time that they’d like to set straight. Here’s what they said…
myth #1: “My milk hasn’t come in yet.”
-Ashley Barrett, IBCLC at Nuturing Bonds
Mama, you have milk even before baby is born! Colostrum is such an important first milk for ALL babies (in fact, I will even recommend colostrum feeding for most dyads, even if they would prefer to feed formula because it’s so amazing!). Colostrum is power packed with more calories, protein, and powerful antibodies for your baby per ounce than mature milk.
I recommend changing our language to “My milk hasn’t transitioned yet,” or “My milk transitioned on day ___.”
There are still many moms who believe that they don’t have breast milk when baby is born but by the end of your second trimester, you’re already producing colostrum for your baby if they’re born early. This colostrum even changes as your baby becomes term. It isn’t a limited quantity either.
It’ll be there as your baby needs it until your hormones shift and your milk transitions toward mature milk.
Jill Lancaster, RN, BSN, IBCLC at Lactivist Activist
Working often in the newborn area, I often hear "I haven't got any milk yet."
I find it very fulfilling to teach new mothers hand expression, and show then the colostrum that is actually there! They are almost always pleasantly surprised and happy!
It does help if the mother/parents attend a breastfeeding class, so that they understand that there are small amounts of colostrum, 1-3 tsp per feeding on the first day.
myth #2: "my colostrum isn’t enough for baby."
Ileana Berrios, IBCLC at Breastfeeding Latinas
Babies are born with a SMALL stomach (about the size of a cherry) and are not yet prepared to consume high quantities of milk. So the amount of milk your breasts produce those first few days is just right!
Shannon Demiter, IBCLC at Snohomish Valley Breastfeeding
This is a time when mom is likely to supplement with formula because she has not been correctly informed. I always reassure a new mom that she DOES have enough milk!
Colostrum is milk, it is smaller in volume and perfectly matches the needs of their baby. I never say “milk coming in” I always say “milk volume increasing” so they clearly understand that they DO have milk, it just becomes more abundant with time.
myth #3: “Breastfeeding is painful”
Jacqueline Kincer, CSOM, IBCLC at Holistic Lactation
Painful breastfeeding is NOT normal. It might be “common”, but it’s not part of the normal physiological process of breastfeeding.
It may feel new, slightly uncomfortable, but nothing that is actually described as pain. Painful breastfeeding is a vital sign that something dysfunctional is happening and that mom and baby need professional help.
If fixing the latch is not bringing relief, the baby’s anatomical structure should be checked out to look for an explanation as to why the painful latch/feeding is occurring. Is it birth trauma, structural compression due to positioning in utero, tongue tie, or something else? A skilled IBCLC can help!
Rochelle McLean, CCE, IBCLC at Babies in Bloom
I often hear the breastfeeding pain is normal. Just because something is common doesn't make it normal.
Failure to understand that the pain is a symptom that something may be wrong often delays moms from getting help.
myth #4: “Breastfeeding mothers get less sleep.”
Nicole Kekesi RD, RLC, IBCLC at Breastfeeding Resource Center at Virtua
The honest truth is being a mother is hard work, and babies don’t sleep for long stretches of time, breastfed or not! The first few weeks can be OVERWHELMING since newborns eat around the clock and a breastfeeding mother is the sole source of nutrition.
Once a mother’s supply is regulated a breastfeeding mother saves time in preparation of bottles; there is no mixing, heating, and washing bottles! Also when you’re breastfeeding your body releases hormones that help make you feel peaceful and relaxed (and fall asleep faster!)
myth #5: “Pumping will tell you how much milk you’re making.”
Allika Alce, IBCLC at Your Bold Birth
A pump is a poor way to measure milk supply. A pump is a tool and is not equivalent to your baby's ability to transfer milk from the breast.
No woman should be told to pump to see how much milk they’re making. My advice if you want to see how much baby is transferring is to do weighted feedings with an appropriate scale, and you’ll be able to narrow down proper milk intake amounts.
myth #6: "Limit the minutes you breastfeed.”
Bronwyn Balcomb, IBCLC at Mama Nature
This frustrates me so much! Who are we to say when a baby (with their own appetite, needs and wants) will be finished feeding from a breast? I always discuss with my clients that we are all individuals, and we don't eat the same meals for the same length of time.
You should not remove a baby from a breast who is actively sucking and transferring milk. Allow baby to drink for as long as they want. That being said, you also need to watch the behavior of the baby at the breast. Is baby removing milk by sucking and swallowing deeply, in a rhythmical pattern? Or is baby using short, sharp sucks to elicit a let down? Is baby content and now falling off to sleep? These signs will help you know whether you can remove baby from one breast and switch to the other side.
myth #7: “You need to drink a ton of water to make enough milk.”
Beverley Rae, IBCLC at Breastfeeding Resources
Not so! Drinking fluids to excess can actually reduce milk supply. I encourage moms to drink to thirst just as you normally would.
myth #8: “I have to give my baby 100% breast milk or switch entirely to formula.”
Jill Lancaster RN, BSN, IBCLC, at Lactivist Activist
It’s still a good idea to give whatever breast milk you can provide for your baby! Whether it’s 50% formula and 50% breastmilk, or even 75% formula, 25% breastmilk, it doesn’t have to be “all or nothing."
Don't judge yourself and just do the best you can!