- It’s going to hurt! False: Although it may feel uncomfortable in the beginning as you learn to get baby latched on properly, and toughen up your nipples, it should not be extremely painful to breastfeed. If you are experiencing a lot of pain while nursing your baby, then they might not be latched on properly, or may have a tongue or lip tie, that’s getting in the way of them latching on well. Tongue and lip ties can either be corrected via laser surgery, or worked around with a modified latch, or use of nippled shield, until your babies mouth grows bigger. More on tongue and lip ties here.
2. Your baby isn’t getting enough nutrition before your milk comes in.
False: Babies are born water logged from floating around in amniotic fluid for several months. They also already have their intestines filled with a substance called ‘meconium’ that they will pass for several days before the mothers milk comes in. A baby is born with a very small stomach, and the mother makes just the right amount of milk for her baby. In the first few days following birth, the mother will produce a substance called ‘colostrum’ which is similar to milk, but different. The colostrum will give the baby everything he or shed needs until the mothers milk comes in. If you are worried about your baby not getting enough, simply track the amount of soiled diapers in the day, and judge based on that. You can also keep an eye on the soft spot onto of the babies head. If it is indented then they are dehydrated, but dehydration is very rare for a baby that is being breastfed on demand.
3. The amount you get out of a breast pump, indicates how much milk you a re making.
False: A mother will respond much differently to a plastic pump, then she does to her baby. Many women give up breastfeeding because they aren’t getting much when they pump. Although this may be an issue if the mother has had to return to work, it is not an indication of how much milk the mother is making. If mothers are looking to boost their supply to aid in expressing milk for their babies, there are many herbal ‘galactagogues’ that can be used for this.
4. Breastfed babies need to be supplemented
with formula if they aren’t gaining weight fast enough.
False: Breastfed babies will actually lose a bit of weight after birth, before they start gaining again. Breastfed babies also gain weight slower than formula fed babies. Did you know that the height and weight charts used at doctors offices in the USA, are made by formula companies? Conflict of interest much?
5. You need to wake your baby every two hours to nurse.
False: My motto is, “let a sleeping baby sleep”. I’ve seen terrible advice given to mothers and fathers about how they need to wake their baby every two hours to nurse, and it’s got to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Most babies will naturally wake about every two hours to nurse, but it is not necessary to wake your baby to feed. They know just when they’re hungry, and they will let you know. This advice is dangerous to new parents seeing as how they are already sleep deprived, and needing their rest too.
6. If you have inverted nipples or flat nipples you won’t be able to breastfeed.
False: Babies are able to still get milk from a breast with an inverted or flat nipple. It may help to stimulate the nipple a bit before approaching the baby to nurse, because it will be easier for them to find, and latch on. There are also devices one can use to make it a little easier for the baby to latch on, such as a breast shield, but I like to recommend these as a last resort, as some babies get used to the shield, and won’t nurse without it.
7. You need to give an infant some food or formula in order to keep their bellies full longer, and get them to sleep more.
False: It is important that a baby is not given solid food until after six months old. They are born with a virgin gut, and it is still closing in the first six months of life. Although it can be exhausting, it is very normal for infants, and even sometimes toddlers, to wake frequently for feedings. They are growing at an incredibly rapid rate, and need to feed frequently. Breast milk also digests much faster than formula, so it is not abnormal to have your baby feeding very frequently, especially during growth spurts.
8. You shouldn’t nurse a toddler, because it’s pointless.
False: The composition of breast milk changes to fit the ever changing needs of your rapidly growing baby. The WHO recommends exclusive breasfeeding for the first six months of life, and continued breast feeding until the age of 2, or longer.
9. My baby is so fussy after feeding. They must not be getting enough milk.
False: During growth spurts, which occur very frequently in the first year of a baby’s life, the baby may engage in something called “cluster feeding”. This usually occurs in the evening for most babies, but can also be at any other time of the day. During a growth spurt a baby may seemingly be at the breast constantly, and still be fussy after getting a feeding. Although, this can be frustrating, it is totally normal. Breastmilk works on a supply and demand basis, so during a growth spurt your baby is triggered into feeding very frequently, in order to increase your milk supply.
10. And last but not least, the biggest myth that I’ve heard to date is that parents need to get their baby on a schedule. This is the most backwards advice I have heard. It is unrealistic and traumatizing for both the parents and the baby. Newborns are still gestating, and need to be very close to their mothers, which means that they need to nurse very frequently. Some parenting books such as the abusive Baby Wise Method encourage parents to ignore their baby’s cries of hunger, and loneliness, so they can be trained to sleep when the parents want them too. More on the myths surrounding the Baby Wise Method in this post.
Many babies have died from failure to thrive while being tortured with this abusive “parenting style”. Babies are not designed to sleep alone. They need to be with their mothers or fathers, skin to skin, which regulates their breathing and heartbeat. They need to be tended to when they cry, because they are trying to communicate a need that isn’t being met. They are not trying to “manipulate” you. They will not be in your bed forever, and you are not “spoiling” them. You cannot spoil a baby.