August 5, 2019

Debunking breastfeeding myths

Misinformation about breastfeeding abounds. We’ve separated fact from fiction.

Having a baby can be both joyful and overwhelming as new parents cope with interrupted sleep, round-the-clock diaper changes, and balancing parenting with other responsibilities.

Lack of support for breastfeeding can be another challenge. Misconceptions abound, causing some new moms to get discouraged before they even start.

Here, we take on some of the most common breastfeeding myths.

Myth 1: Breastfeeding is inconvenient.

Breastfeeding has been shown to have many benefits for both infant and mother. But nursing a baby takes time, especially when you’re first getting started. In the first few weeks, newborns breastfeed every 1 to 3 hours (or 8 to 12 times over 24 hours).

These frequent feedings can make some moms feel like they have less independence, with limited ability to be away from their baby. Pumping and storing breast milk can help alleviate this by making it possible for others to give the baby a bottle while you’re at work or school or taking time away.

Once you and your baby get adjusted and feedings become less frequent (usually at about 3 months), breastfeeding can start to feel much simpler. There’s no formula to measure and mix, and when you’re together, you can satisfy your baby’s hunger immediately, without having to prepare a bottle.

Myth 2: Breastfeeding hurts.

Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, but it’s common to experience soreness and nipple tenderness in the first few weeks. This discomfort should go away as you and your baby adjust.

Try different breastfeeding positions to find the ones most comfortable for you, and check to make sure the baby is latching on correctly. Use a nipple cream that contains lanolin to help prevent cracked nipples. If your breast feels uncomfortably full, try holding a warm washcloth to your breast before feeding. If your discomfort continues, a lactation consultant can help you figure out the cause.

Myth 3: Breastfed babies don’t sleep through the night.

Formula-fed babies often feed less frequently than breastfed babies because formula takes longer to digest than breast milk. But by 4 months, many breastfed babies are able to go 5 or more hours between feedings at night. And by 6 months, many are sleeping through the night. Try these tips to help your baby sleep better