The Truth Behind Common Breastfeeding Myths

There are many common misconceptions about breastfeeding, and they often cause damage to the breastfeeding relationship. Here are some of the ones that are frequently held by parents and health care providers alike, and the truth behind them.

Myth: It’s normal for breastfeeding to hurt. Truth: If breastfeeding  hurts something is wrong. Nursing may be a little uncomfortable during the early days as your body adjusts to a new sensation, but it should never be painful. Poor latch is the most common cause of pain in the early weeks, but there are other possibilities including sucking issues with baby from birth interventions or physical characteristics such as tongue-tie. If nursing hurts, get help as soon as possible. The earlier breastfeeding problems are addressed, the easier they are to fix. If you go to someone for help and the problem isn’t solved, keep trying until you find someone with the knowledge and experience to help.

Myth: Moms with small breasts can’t make enough milk. Truth: Breast size doesn’t matter.  Milk production has nothing to do with breast size.  It’s even possible for women with smaller breasts to have an oversupply of milk! Following your baby’s lead and nursing whenever your baby cues to feed will help to ensure adequate production of milk.

Myth: Many moms can’t produce enough milk. Truth: The vast majority of mothers can make more than enough milk for their baby (or babies!). It is estimated that only 2-5% (some believe this number is lower, closer to 1-2%) of women are truly unable to produce enough milk for their baby. Our species never would have survived if we weren’t able to provide for our young. Low milk production is usually the result of not enough stimulation of the breast from nursing or pumping.

Myth: There is no milk in the first few days. Truth: Colostrum *is* breastmilk! The small amounts are perfect for a new baby’s tiny stomach. Newborn stomach capacity: Day one 9-10ml (1/3 oz), day three 22-27ml (3/4-1 oz), day 10 60-81ml (2-2.5 oz).

Myth: Babies usually nurse every 3-4 hours. Truth: Babies often need to eat every 2 hrs or less. Babies have small stomachs and breastmilk is digested quickly. This is not a flaw in nature’s design, babies need to be held and interacted with frequently to aid in the development of  their brains. Frequent feedings help to ensure this!

Myth: Night feedings aren’t important. Truth: Prolactin levels (the hormone responsible for milk production) are highest at night, so those night feedings (or pumping sessions)  are important for milk production.

Myth: Breastfeeding mothers get less sleep. Truth: Recent research has shown that breastfeeding mothers get more sleep, and enjoy better quality sleep, than formula feeding mothers do. Another recent study found no difference in the amount of sleep that breastfeeding and formula feeding mothers get.  Giving formula at night to try to get more rest doesn’t work (and may make things worse if your baby doesn’t react well to the formula), and missing night time nursing sessions can have a negative impact on your milk production.

Myth: Breasts need time to fill up between feedings. Truth: Your breasts are continually making milk as your baby drinks. You don’t need to wait a certain amount of time before putting your baby back to breast.

Myth: There is no way to tell how much baby is getting. Truth: To know whether or not your baby is getting enough breastmilk, look at your baby! If your baby is gaining weight, having plenty of wet and dirty diapers, is content after feedings, meeting developmental milestones, outgrowing clothes and diapers etc, then he’s getting everything he needs.

Myth: If your breasts feel soft you don’t have enough milk. Truth: Many women worry that they don’t have enough milk if their breasts are soft, or they can’t feel their milk “let-down”.  After the early weeks, your body adjusts to your baby’s needs, and the full feeling that you may have experienced early on disappears. This does not mean that you don’t have enough milk, it simply means that your milk production is in sync with your baby’s needs. Being able to feel your milk let down is also not an indicator of milk production. Many women never feel their milk let down.

Myth: If your baby is nursing frequently, he’s just using you as a pacifier. Truth: Breasts are the original pacifier! Babies don’t nurse just for food. This often comes as a surprise to parents, but babies go to the breast for many reasons. They’re hungry, thirsty, tired, hurt, overstimulated, bored, lonely, in the mood for cuddles, etc. All are equally valid reasons to nurse. Believing that babies only nurse because they are hungry can lead to problems if parents try to hold off feedings because “he can’t be hungry he just ate!”. I’m sure most of us have heard someone say “Don’t let your baby use you as a pacifier. My response to this is “I’m not pacifying, I’m mothering!“ Pacifiers were invented to allow babies to satisfy their sucking needs when mom is not available, not the other way around. Mothers are not meant to nurse their babies only when a pacifier isn’t available.

Myth: Frequent nursing and holding will spoil your baby, make him too dependent etc. Truth: Research tells us that babies who are held and nursed frequently, actually go on to be very outgoing and adventurous children. Babies’ first relationships set the tone for all future relationships in life. By responding to our babies’ needs quickly, consistently and with love, we teach our children that the world is a safe and wonderful place. This gives them the courage to go out and explore because they know that they have a safe and loving place to return to.

Myth: If you let your baby fall asleep at the breast, he’ll never learn to go to sleep on his own. Truth: All children eventually learn to settle themselves to sleep. Babies fall asleep at the breast because nature designed it that way. Nursing is a peaceful and easy way to help our babies and young children settle to sleep during a time when they do not yet have the ability to self soothe.

Myth: pumping shows how much milk you have. Truth: The amount you are able to pump is not a good indicator of milk production. Many moms don’t respond well to pump, and a baby who is able to nurse effectively is far more efficient than any pump.

Myth: You have to drink milk to make milk. Truth: Cow’s milk is not a necessary component of anyone’s diet. We are the only mammals who drink milk past the time of natural weaning and yet every other mammal manages to produce milk for their young.

Myth: Eating gassy foods will make your baby gassy/breastfeeding moms have to be careful about what they eat/drink. Truth: Breastmilk is made from what’s in your bloodstream not your stomach. Most babies have no trouble with “gassy” or “spicy” foods, caffeine etc. Everything in moderation unless your baby’s behaviour is telling you otherwise. There is no need to unnecessarily limit your diet.

Myth: You can’t breastfeed if you’re taking medication. Truth: Most medications can be safely taken while breastfeeding. If you have questions about medications and breastfeeding, make sure you have accurate information by calling an IBCLC or the Infant Risk Centre.

Myth: you have to pump & dump after having x-rays, a CT scan or an MRI. Truth: Most scans (even those that use contrast dye) are safe while breastfeeding. Scans using radioactive isotopes are usually the only ones that require a temporary cessation of breastfeeding. If you have questions, check with an IBCLC or call the Infant Risk Centre for more information.

Myth: If you don’t have enough milk with your first baby, it will be the same with your next baby so there’s no sense in trying. Truth: Breasts usually develop more glandular tissue with each pregnancy, so if you didn’t have enough milk with a previous baby, that may not be the case with your next one. Also, most cases of low supply are due to not enough stimulation of your breasts through either nursing or pumping in the early weeks, so arm yourself with good information and support as you prepare for your next baby.

Myth: foremilk-hindmilk imbalance is a common problem. Truth: True foremilk-hindmilk imbalance is rare, and usually only happens in cases of oversupply of milk or timed feedings. Many parents are concerned about their baby getting the fatty “hindmilk”, but all breastmilk has some fat in it. When looking at fat intake, one feeding is not important. What is important is the fat intake over 24 hours. Fat content of breastmilk naturally varies throughout a feeding, and throughout a day. The emptier your breast is, the higher the fat content. So early in the day when milk volume tends to be higher, fat content will naturally be lower. Later in the day when milk volume is naturally lower, the fat content will higher. If you follow your baby’s cues and nurse your baby whenever he is looking for the breast, your baby will get what he needs.

Myth: Once your child gets teeth, can talk etc it’s time to stop nursing. Truth: According to anthropological research, the natural age of weaning for humans is between 2.5-7 years of age. Breastfeeding can and should continue for as long as is mutually desired.

Myth: Breastmilk is a dairy product. Truth: You’re not a cow! Breastmilk is considered a clear fluid.

Myth: Formula is just as good as breastmilk. Truth: Breastmilk is the biological norm for our species. It is a complex and living substance that scientists are still trying to unravel. Breastmilk has over 300 ingredients including white cells, antibacterial and antiviral agents etc. Formula has only 40 (non-living) ingredients.

Myth: After x number of months, breastmilk has no nutritional value. Truth: Breastmilk does not suddenly turn to water just because your baby has reached a certain age. Breastmilk continues to have fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamin and minerals, antibodies etc, for as long as your child is nursing.

Myth: Doctors and nurses know a lot about breastfeeding. Truth: Most doctors and nurses (including pediatricians) have little to no education about breastfeeding (unless they pursue it on their own) as it is not part of their curriculum in school. If you need information about breastfeeding, call someone knowledgeable such as an IBCLC, La Leche League Leader or breastfeeding peer counsellor.

Myth: many mothers give up on breastfeeding too easily. Truth: Most moms want to breastfeed. Breastfeeding initiation rates are high, but the numbers of women exclusively breastfeeding drop off dramatically in the first month. Most moms run into problems and eventually switch to formula feeding due to  lack of accurate info and a lack of support.

Myth: breastfeeding is easy. Truth: Breastfeeding is natural, but in today’s culture it is often not easy. Mothers don’t fail at breastfeeding, society does. In a society where doctors and nurses have little to no training in breastfeeding and are frequently handing out harmful advice, where birth interventions that interfere with breastfeeding are the norm, formula marketing is rampant and mothers are made to feel ashamed to nurse their babies in public, it’s amazing that any woman manages to meet her breastfeeding goals. You can even the odds by educating yourself and establishing a support network. We are not meant to breastfeed or parent in isolation, so don’t be afraid to ask to for help!

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  12. Cidalia says:

    I have to disagree somewhat with the whole ‘our species would’ve have survived’ thing. Yes, our overall species survived, but formula was invented because infant mortality due to breastfeeding problems was very real.

  13. Just want to asked is it normal that after i stop breastfeeding,i dont even feel any pain in my breast

  14. There is no need to pump and dump after drinking. You can pump some and dump to relieve any discomfort from engorgement, but if you wait it out your body will clear out the alcohol from your milk. Its about an hour of wait per unit of alcohol. To be safe you can always buy a milk screen kit.

  15. These are great points but I was very disappointed that the sources weren’t linked very often. It’s obviously well laid out. Why not link the sources?

  16. I would like to disagree with the part on the food not affecting baby. I had to go through a very torturous food elimination process to figure out what was causing gut wrenching pains in my beautiful baby. She cried endlessly, she could not sleep for long, she threw up constantly, she had different colour poops with different textures and she was constantly choking on excess amounts of regurgitation. I finally decided to go on a strict acid reflux diet because I realized I may be aggravating her baby acid reflux and I also eliminated caffeine, packaged/processed foods, dairy and gas producing foods… yes pretty much all food! Within a day she completely changed. She became peaceful and happy. She completely stopped vomiting, she statted to sleep for 5 to 6 hours straight at night vs. The 1 to 2 previously. Her poop in now always the same. I have been on this diet for 5 weeks now. In that time I have had 1 coke, 1 ice cappuccino, 1 bowl of fries, 1 polish cabbage dish and 1 ice cream. These were tests periodically just to make sure I was not being paranoid. But like clockwork, with every e one of these items, within hours she became cranky and started these long horrible crying fits. You coukd clearly see she was on pain. Each time lasted about a day. All the vomining came back too. There is no question in my mind that what I eat affects her. No one can tell me differently. I am not starving or suffering by this diet change. I actually feel great because I am eating healthy…. but my lack of “yummy” things is helping her. The only one who has suffered is her so I am glad I could make that go away even if that means staring at coca cola with tears in my eyes. All I can say is please watch for your babies cues and do whatever it takes to help them. They cannot help themselves. They need us to care enough about them in every way.

    • What do you eat on a daily basis? My baby has all the same symptoms, but I have no clue where to start.

    • What you mention is rare. Generally, babies are not affected Bunche same foods that cause gassiness in adults. That’s just not how breastmilk is made. There are some babies who have extreme reactions to proteins in mom’s bloodstream via breastmilk. Again, this is rare, so the information above is still accurate.

  17. The article states that breast milk is made from your blood supply, rather than the food you eat. But your blood quality is contingent on your diet. So…. why would you dump after consuming alcohol, but not 1/2lb sugar? Or a load of McDonald’s food?

    • Blood quality is not confident upon your diet. Alcohol is something that, like medicines, enters your bloodstream. French fries enter your stomach and not your blood.

  18. timefortruth says:

    No, we need to stop saying that breastfeeding “doesn’t hurt” and “if it hurts, then something is wrong”. Maybe some women have nipples of steel. But for me– it hurt like hell for all 3 of my babies for the first few weeks!! And all 3 of my children had perfect latches, no sucking issues, no tongue tie. It hurts for a few weeks, and then all of the sudden, it doesn’t hurt. If someone had told me to expect this with my first, I might have been able to enjoy my baby. Instead, I was terrified and upset and in pain, and everyone kept saying “it shouldn’t hurt”. We are all different and for some of us, despite ideal circumstances, it still hurts while your body gets used to it. Yes, other things can cause breastfeeding to be painful, but also remember that some pain in the beginning is NORMAL.

    • monkeymommy says:

      I couldn’t agree more with you on this one. The first line of this that says “If breastfeeding hurts, something is wrong”. Breastfeeding was extremely painful for me for the first two months. I kept being told that I must be doing something wrong. It is not the right approach to tell someone they are doing something wrong. I was told I had the “perfect latch”, my son was gaining weight in leaps and bounds and I was crying nearly every other feed from pain. After two months I finally achieved a pain-free experience after much perseverance and many times of almost giving up. At two months something clicked and I can’t say for sure what it was but I believe it was a combination of (1) My son who was born early at 5lbs 13oz finally had larger mouth to accommodate my larger nipple; (2) My son’s suckling technique improving and (3) My nipples finally being completely desensitized. If someone had told me from the get-go that other women experience pain for the first couple months and there is light at the end of the tunnel, then I would have had stronger resolve to keep going and not give up. I thought it might never end. We need to stop trying to fit every breastfeeding experience into a set of rules and let moms know that there are other women out there experiencing what you do and it will get better. I love breastfeeding now and I am so happy I stuck with it so if you are in the same boat as me – stick with it! It WILL get better!! And you ARE NOT doing anything wrong! All the other myths in the article were great – thank you for posting this.

      • monkeymommy says:

        PS – The two things that helped me get through the 2 months for those out there who have the same issue. (1) Jack Newman’s APNO (All-purpose nipple ointment) – they should give this stuff out at the hospital! (2) IBUPROFEN!

        • Jason Alcock says:

          My son was diagnosed with lip and toung tie after my girlfriend experienced painful breastfeeding whilst living in Dublin, Ireland. It seems like there is an epidemic of toung ties here in Ireland. Apparently the tie is not severe but somewhere inbetween the scale. What surprises me is that most professionals refuse to admit that some women will have an inititial painful experience and are intervention gung ho. I am just a caring father with no background but together my girlfriend and I managed 3 zero pain latch and feeding sessions in less than 24 hours and I think we are making progress. We are not even 3 weeks in and my G laboured and had a section which makes the breastfeeding and everything damn hard work. Great to here you girls persevere and got the results. Everyone is different. My girlfriend was subtly persuaded to seek intervention, I dug my heels in for the persevere route and after carefully assessing everyone and all the risks and now I’ve been asked to leave by my girlfriend. Medical profession 1 happy family 0.

    • Actually, pain in the beginning is not normal. If you are experiencing pain breastfeeding then it is encouraged that you seek support. Tongue ties, shallow latch, nipple soreness… There is a list of things that cause pain in early breastfeeding and they all have a remedy. We do not want women to suffer pain unnecessarily and we do not want women to avoid initiating breastfeeding because they read somewhere tiTbits normal for it to hurt. A slight discomfort is normal. Pain is not.

  19. Josephine Gonsaro says:

    Wow this article really helped me . I hv a 4 month old son and my mum was always saying i should switch breasts in between feeds and my baby was not gaining well . I will fully utilise this info … Oh by the way iam actually a nurse and u dont get to learn this stuff . So consulting a lactation expert is the way to go . Good luck mums and mums to be :);)

  20. A must read article for every women. My daughter is now 3 months and on the day she is born she had drink first breastmilk(clustrum) but after that i had very less milk supply so my pd has to put my baby on formula and my ob put me on herbal medicine which was surely very effective and also told me to put my baby on breastfeed so that stimulation helps in establishing the milksupply and all this really helps and now i exclusively brestfeed my daughter on demand even if she wants to be fead after 15 min and i dont mind to be used as pacifier afterall she is my baby and will do every thing to make her feel comfortable and special.

  21. I find it so inspiring that I’m not the only human out there over the age of 20 who doesn’t know any of this!
    Time to learn *about all of it*.

  22. I think it’s wrong to tell women to breastfeed until their child is 2.5-7 years old. We no longer live in times where food is unavailable (or not easily available) for our children. When children get teeth they should start eating baby food and that will slow down on their breastfeeding; the older they get the more food they will eat and the less breastmilk they will need. Also, if you CHOOSE to breastfeed longer than 2 years put it in a damned sippy cup! This is a child now! How much mental and emotional damage you would do to a child who could remember being breastfed! At some point you aren’t doing it for your child, you are doing it for your own neediness for your “baby.” If you want a little baby all the time, God gave you a reproductive system that can SAFELY make babies every 2 years.

    I breastfed my first child for the first 2 weeks. I ran into a lot of problems in the hospital with nobody helping me breastfeed. I didn’t know that you had to TEACH your infant how to breastfeed. After a week though I got the hang of it. However, while in the hospital I caught a urinary tract infection that was resistant to antibiotics so after depleting all bfing safe antibiotic options they had to put me on harsher ones for 2 weeks that I couldn’t use while breastfeeding. I would have had to pump and dump for 3-4 weeks and I just couldn’t keep up on it so I gave up at that point. I am however expecting again and know a lot more and hope to be much more succesful this time. I also will try other pain management (doula and/or IV drugs) instead of an epidural so that I can walk around during labor and NOT be cathaterized.

    • Your stupid! How about you go educate your self instead of saying that a mother is breastfeeding their child out of neediness my son is turning three and he still breastfeeds and no I will not put the breast milk una sippy cup just so people like you can feel less ashamed that they made excusses as to why they “couldn’t” breastfeed. ‘

      • How about you don’t name call. I have nursed all 4 of my children with no problems. None got any type of nipple after a year. And be a little empathetic, because some woman actually can’t breastfeed , so how dare you claim she’s jealous. I’m surely not, and I don’t agree with you.

    • I’m with Mercedes on this one. Sounds like you are mighty jealous of those of us who can breastfeed and enjoy the close attachment with their children. My son is 10 months has never tasted formula and breastfeeding has always come natural and been a walk in the park for me. If my son chooses to nurse until 2, that’s my decision and I won’t be embarrassed and feel I need to hide it in a sippy cup. Don’t spoil it for everyone else. It will make you age prematurely being so bitter.

    • you have a very twisted view of breastfeeding. Sadly, women and society judge other women for doing what is normal, natural, and ideal from a whole health perspective. Praying for a shift in consciousness!

  23. This is mostly a really great list. I have similar comments re: pain as some people above did. If only because we all have different pain tolerance levels, it’s problematic to say that it might be uncomfortable but it won’t hurt. I have pretty high pain tolerance, but nipple pain is difficult for me to deal with. It’s toe-curling no matter what the degree. I think better advice is that if it hurts and you’re unsure about the latch/tongue tie/whatever, get it checked out by someone you trust. If it keeps hurting and doesn’t seem to be getting better, keep exploring. If it keeps hurting but gradually hurts less, have confidence that the pain will resolve (and maybe take a lot of ibuprofen in the meantime).

    There’s also all sorts of emotional things wrapped up in early breastfeeding and, at least for me, that kind of merges with physical pain and creates a whole new kind of beast. “If it hurts something is wrong” is not a helpful message in that case.

    I also disagree with the idea that if a baby’s *behavior* is telling you something is wrong with what you’re eating, then you should change your diet. Babies are, generally, fussy, cranky, uncomfortable people at least some of the time, even when everything is 100% wonderful. Basing changes in diet (or anything else) on a newborn’s behavior is not the best course of action. Looking at behavior + physical symptoms is a better idea.

  24. When I read these I always think there should be information included for c/section moms. After my first c/section with no labor my babe was sleepy and lethargic and had no idea how to nurse and to took us weeks to get up and running as a team and my nipples were cracked and bleeding. With my second, a failed vbac she came out smacking her lips and latched as soon as she was allowed (maybe 45 minutes post birth) by two weeks (and a great latch) my nipples were again a mess. The massive amount of antibiotics I was given for group b strep was never taken into consideration post-birth but it should be. Moms that have antibiotics run a much higher risk of thrush!!! Even with my second child (and feeling fairly well versed in nursing) I never thought about it. By the time I left the hospital someone (OB, midwife, IBCLC) should have discussed this with me. At my two week check up my OB finally recommended jack Newmann nipple cream (APNO) that provided relief immediately. I suffered needlessly for two weeks when a minor discussion would have solved the problem. Breastfeeding after c/section should be discussed since (wether or not it is necessary) our c/section rate is so high and it needs to be dealt with differently than vaginal births.

  25. When it comes to breastfeeding after drinking, it’s not really a problem for the most part. Studies have shown that the alcohol does not effect the baby, but the taste does. Most babies won’t do well BFing after mom drinks because they don’t like the taste, so that may be a reason to “pump and dump” or have a stash of pumped milk to get you passed it.

  26. Ashley B says:

    Very interesting read! I didn’t know that breastmilk was considered a clear fluid! I do (also) disagree that if it hurts you are doing something wrong. I was in such pain for about the first month. I almost gave up because everything I read said I was doing something wrong! After a few days I went to see the LC at the hospital and she said I was doing everything right. I almost gave up because of it. I feel you should tell mothers it may hurt but gets better so stick with it! Nursing also didn’t help me get more sleep. For about the first 12 months my son was waking up about every 2 hours to nurse. I just wanted to sleep so I let him nurse to make it easy on myself.

  27. As a former La Leche League Leader, I would like to add that you can still “party” if you are breastfeeding. You can employ a method called “pump and dump” or just wait a sufficient amount of time before feeding your baby. This is the reason my daughter chose not to breastfeed. I was shocked of course by her ignorance of what parents do but then I was not 19 when I had her. And I from my understanding that drunk parents are not effective parents and taking care of a baby when you are hungover is not the easiest thing in the world. I grew up with an alcoholic parent so have never been one to “party” like that. I think she was just trying to make me go away and shock me as well. But because I have been a LLL leader for five years when she was little, nothing really shocks me other than you would choose to not breastfeed when you yourself were nursed until I was too uncomfortable during my 2nd pregnancy then started again when they wanted to induce me at your sister’s birth and then until you weaned naturally. Ignorance is not bliss and some people need to grow up but then I am not in charge of that either. One has to want to parent and be motivated to breastfeed enough to care that they are breastfeeding. And also circumcision does interfere with breastfeeding but I did not really know that until I looked it up recently. No one I knew ever did that to their children. Anyway power to the mamas and their babies out there. We are the world! Keep it up big team! Keep it up! Breastfeeding is the only team worth cheering for!

  28. I really enjoyed reading this article. My son is 19 months old and everyone including my husband, who is pro breastfeeding is telling me I should start weaning him! I don’t want to and I know my son doesn’t either. He doesn’t breast feed all day long just when he’s tired and wants to be comforted. How do I get people including my husband off my back. When it’s time to stop then my son will let me know. In the meantime I don’t see anything wrong. They think it’s gross because he asks for it. He calls it “na na”. Lol

  29. Great way to bring up the common myths of breastfeeding. Every mother should read this!

  30. Oh geez, pardon all my typos!

  31. Great article! I “shared” it on my FB page. The only thing that a lot of bfing articles don’t touch on is inverted nipples. I think that a lot of women think that if they have flat/inverted nipples then they cannot successfully breastfeed. I have quite inverted nipples but was determined to make it work. I wore breast shells for the last couple months of my pregnancy. I believe those helped a lot. I also wore them after giving birth to help east pain. (They are not nipple shield that are worn during bfing, which I do not recommend, even if experiencing pain because they can reduce milk production, but they are shells worn when not bfing.) Breastfeeding with inverted nipples is incredibly painful. I had pain for 4 months month, and it had nothing to do with the latch. My son had a perfect latch. It simply takes a while for the adhesions to “break”. Ohhh, it hurt BAD…toe curling bad. But I pressed on! My son nursed frequently, every 45 min – 1.5 hours the first few months. I loved nursing, but dreaded it at the same time. I’m now 9 months in and couldn’t love it more! It is so easy, painless, just wonderful. 🙂

  32. Im on baby #2. BFing was very painful for first 3 weeks with each of them (just the first minute or two). With both the pain magically disappeared at the 3 week mark without any intervention. I’ve had many other BFers share that same experience saying,” I know they say it’s not supposed to hurt, but…” Not sure how anyone can say there should be discomfort but not pain when bodies are all so different. Blood tests, flu shots, headaches, pap smears, stubbed toes– some people find these things to be very painful and others think they only cause discomfort.

  33. Well written, BUT – Breastfeeding was totally painful for me for the first 2.5 months, then magically the pain disappeared one day. My nipples would hurt for the first 30 seconds of her latch EVERY TIME, on both sides. It felt like little needles… I have red hair/fair skin, and I heard before I delivered that it would be more painful for me, so I was slightly prepared. I’m so glad I stuck with it, bc my daughter is now 5 months, and still nursing. For me, pumping during the workweek has been way more stressful than the initial painful months. I wish my daycare provider knew more about breastfed babies and would stop demanding more milk! I send 15 ounces for a 10 hour period, and they constantly complain that she isn’t satisfied after a 5 oz bottle (she really just wants to suck on something and be held for a longer period of time). I can only pump 13 oz a day at work, and I’m adding 2 more oz of frozen milk each morning. She’s nursing before and after daycare, before bed, and at least once during the night, AND she’s in the 95th percentile for weight.

  34. So true! Especially about the small breasts not making enough milk myth- that was me! My son weighed 10.3 pounds at birth and I was still able to breastfeed. Many people, including doctors told me that physically I was unable to make enough milk for my big baby. I was even sent home with formula and promised the doctor that I would supplement half the feeding with formula. I was still a size A32 in bra.

    Well, as soon as I got home, I was leaking mad from my small breasts and just put my baby at the breast. At one point I had so much milk, I was pumping 4 oz- 8 oz between feedings and had a freezer stash. I was so confused. When I called the hospital they told me to stop pumping because I had an oversupply! Really??

    My son breastfed until he was 2 1/2- closer to 3. I don’t remember exactly when. He started eating solids a little later. I would say it was a good 7 months that his diet consisted of only breast milk. Everywhere I went people were always commenting on my large baby and how “well fed” he is. No one believed I could breastfed until I pulled him out and put him there. Even when his teeth came out I still kept on going. My mother in law warned us about biting and to stop-my mom said the same. My son never really bit me. I guess because I let down pretty easy and there wasn’t really anytime for him to nibble before the rush of milk came.

    When I stopped pumping I was still able to hand express. It was a relief between the feedings. Most of the stuff that I learned about breastfeeding was on online message boards and through other breast feeding moms. I learned to trust my motherly instincts over doctor’s advice. It’s sad, many doctors aren’t educated enough about breastfeeding or the benefits of it.

  35. What a wonderful article, especially for first time Mom’s! So reassuring.

  36. I liked this artical alot, glad i saw it. i thought it was very informative. Thank you

  37. I have to agree about the pain. I had pain from about day 3 to 7 or 10 (it has been a few years so it is hard to remember specifics). Thankfully I had my mother and my doula by my side who both commented that they experienced the same thing and had combined nursing experience of 7 babies which alleviated discouragement on my part. Our latch was good etc. It was like she rubbed me raw with her tongue. When women tell me they have pain I recommend having an IBCLC watch them nurse but also tell them it is temporary and it will get better. The pride I took in my strong healthy baby and knowing MY body grew her was worth it all.

  38. #1 is so wrong. Breastfeeding can hurt initially and can have nothing to do with baby or the mother doing ANYTHING wrong. You know how your breasts can get super sensitive during pregnancy? THERE YOU GO! That’s why it hurts at first. I bf my first, and it became painful when I became pregnant with my second. There was no problem with her or me – it was a naturally occurring hormonal phenomenon.

    The breasts are still painful and I suspect until the hormones responsible for causing them to be so sensitive finally go away, breastfeeding the new baby will be painful at first too. You don’t do any woman a service when you disregard that breastfeeding can be painful and it may not be a result of anything they are doing wrong.

    All you do is give them the idea that THEY are doing something wrong when in fact, they are not, thus making them feel inferior for not being able to properly latch their child, or think something is wrong with their child when in reality (and caused by them!), that probably is not the case.

    • Fleur (Nurtured Child) says:

      Thank you for the comment Tina. There has been some interesting conversation in the lactation community recently about this issue and whether or not we are doing a disservice to women by telling them that breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, so it is interesting to her your perspective. 🙂 Pregnancy is certainly a situation where nursing may be painful due to the hormonal changes, but there is a known reason for the pain. For most women, pain indicates that something is wrong. It’s hard to know what is the best approach – do we tell moms that breastfeeding might hurt and risk moms not seeking help soon enough when there really is a problem, or do we say that it shouldn’t hurt so women know to seek help?
      Anyone else have thoughts on this topic?

      • I was warned by family (we all breastfeed) that breastfeeding would be painful the first couple of weeks. I braced myself for this pain, telling myself it would be worth it, only to find… no pain at all. Breastfeeding didn’t hurt, my nipples weren’t sore (much less cracked/bleeding), and if anything it was a pleasant feeling to breastfeed. I’d say the worst was the initial engorgement when I felt like I had two bowling balls strapped to my chest. 😉

        Since then I’ve dealt with things like baby clamping down painfully because of a strong letdown, or pinching my chest while she feeds. But for the most part I do believe that if it hurts then there is something that should be corrected.

      • Why not phrase that OFTEN, pain when nursing may be due to a poor latch (and all the other reasons), so see a specialist for help (LLL, LC) to see if there poor latch issues or something else, such as pregnancy that may be causing pain. And if pain persists, KEEP seeking help.

        Same approach on what moms are told for a very fussy baby. It MAY be teething, but trust your instincts and seek help to be sure if needed. There was a local mom who took her infant to the ER because she was lethargic,pedi said she was just constipated. Lo was, but turns out had been exposed to honey and was hours from death. That mom sought help and trustd her instincts when the answer didn’t seem right. I have read similar stories about tongue tie being missed In a similar fashion.

        I too had pain for the first few months, but I am pretty sure mine was due to a bad latch. However, theLC never saw the bad latch while I was in the hospital. this time, I have a better support network and will make sure it least ask for help, as much as needed.

  39. Loved this article!!! I think you should put one in there about nursing strikes too! Something like Myth: If a baby refuses the breast when he/she is less than 6 months old, they are ready for formula and need to be weaned Truth: Nursing strike info, etc.

  40. The “truth” that if breastfeeding hurts, something is wrong undermined my faith in my nursing relationship with my first child, though thankfully not permanently. It hurt like heck. I dreaded feedings. We had multiple visits with an IBCLC to examine his latch and make sure things were ok, and never found anything wrong. But something had to be, because it still hurt, right?

    I experienced pain for the first few weeks with my third child. Interestingly, not with my second, perhaps because my first child was still nursing through that pregnancy.

    Pain during times of hormonal flux such as ovulation, menstruation, and pregnancy is accepted as relatively common, and a variation of normal. Why not pain postpartum? (Furthermore, not all women are aware that pain while breastfeeding happens for some women at these times, and may wean due to “recurrent asymptomatic thrush” or similar reason when they might have stuck it out if they’d known there was nothing actually physically wrong.)

    Painful breastfeeding is definitely a sign to look for problems. I would never tell someone that pain was normal without going through troubleshooting first. But it’s also important to remember that for some people it isn’t a sign of a problem, and these women need support to stick with it through the early days.

  41. Good article! The only one I strongly disagree with is that bf moms sleep more!! Ohmygosh that is so untrue in my case! I have twins, one’s formula fed, the other is exclusively bf’d. My formula fed baby sleeps through the night since she’s 8 weeks old but I’m still waking several times a night with the other one and they’re 10 months old!! So yeah, I’m not really sleeping more.

    Bfing is NOT easy but possible.

    • I have heard the reason why formula babies sleep longer is simply because it often takes longer for their bodies to digest and break down formula while breastmilk goes right on through. Our kids only woke up 2-3 times a night, but since they slept with us, my wife was awake for just a couple of minutes to help a baby latch on, and then both went right back to sleep. That was our secret to a good rest, but sleeping with your children is a whole other can of worms in the bitter and ever raging “mommy wars”. If the kids and parents both are healthy, happy, and loved, I really don’t see what there is to fuss about.

  42. Brilliant, I keep thinking “I’ll quote that for my Facebook link” but then I’d just have to quote the lot!

    I like the bit about not being a cow, when my daughter had gastro, breastmilk was all she could handle (even water came up) and I got a lecture off a friend how milk is bad for the stomach when you’re not well. Why do people lower our species so much? Farmers, zoo keepers etc all understand the importance of breastfeeding (farmers have it easy with calves as they can get “formula” from any shop shelf!) why don’t we? Do we think ourselvse so high above animals that we don’t need to drink our own milk but at the same time if it’s good enough for them…? It’s all so inconsistent.

    I thought it worth pointing out that here in the UK we call pacifiers dummies. It’s short for “dummy tit” although most people don’t realise that. I hate when people say she’s using me for a dummy, she’s using me for a fake me???

  43. I posted a link to this article on my blog. Please let me know if this is a problem. It’s very well written and accurate. Well done!! Teri, Peer Breastfeeding Counselor

  44. “Myth: Breastfeeding mothers get less sleep” Lol – I was once at a formula-feeding friend’s house where she had a visiting formula-feeding friend (who both chose not to breastfeed for convenience’s sake) and I made the comment “Ugh, I would hate having to get up in the middle of the night and prepare a bottle… All I have to do is grab my baby, lie him next to me, he latches on by himself and I go back to sleep! I wake up when he’s finished, I switch him to the other side and go back to sleep!” They looked at me, so utterly shocked and speechless that I had just made the argument for breast-feeding as the easy option… They had NEVER heard it like that before!! Crazy!

  45. Thanks for writing this. I’ve been breastfeeding successfully for 10 months and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. I happen to have done a LOT of reading and research beforehand to get me through the tougher times, but not everybody does so and simply listens to various bits of ‘bad’ advice from friends/family and even supposed health care professionals. There is a serious need for more breastfeeding re-education so thank you for contributing to that!

  46. Natalia says:

    okej nice information 🙂 finally I know more about brestfeeding. But what if your baby start to eating just for 5 to 10 min every 3 hours- then my production decrease. I know because I have sitution like that, and when she want to eat more, she’s very nerwous because she can’t get milk fast and as much as she wants.

  47. What a great list and blog I wish I knew about it before my friend w. a newborn gave up her attempts at bf’ing. Re. the fact that babies need to nurse more like every two hours, that is so true.

  48. Very nice, in dept piece on breastfeeding myths. How I wish that these could be printed into pamphlets and given to all pregnant moms as a must read! So many moms take some as truth and give up on giving their child the very best nature intended. Keep up the good work spreading the TRUTH about the benefits of breastfeeding babies!

  49. Thank you so much for writing this.

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