7 Breastfeeding Myths Debunked

Welcome to a journey of clarity and confidence in one of the most natural yet often misunderstood aspects of early motherhood: breastfeeding.

In this enlightening article, we're diving into the heart of common misconceptions that surround breastfeeding. From myths that have been passed down through generations to newer, widely-spread misinformation, we're here to set the record straight. Whether you're a new mom feeling overwhelmed by conflicting advice, a seasoned parent who's curious about the facts, or just someone interested in the truths behind these tales, this article is your guide. Let's unravel these myths together, replacing doubts with knowledge and fears with empowerment, as we explore the real facts about breastfeeding. Get ready to be informed, reassured, and inspired!

1. Myth: Breastfeeding is Naturally Easy

Fact: The reality is that breastfeeding is a skill that both mother and baby learn together. Many mothers need help with positioning the baby and ensuring a proper latch. It's a journey of practice and patience, not something that's instinctively perfect.

2. Myth: Breastfeeding Should Hurt

Fact: While some initial tenderness is common, persistent pain is a red flag. It often indicates issues like poor latching or possible infection. True, there might be some discomfort in the beginning, but severe pain is not a standard part of the breastfeeding experience.

3. Myth: Breastfeeding Moms Must Eat Bland Foods

Fact: Surprisingly, eating a diverse diet while breastfeeding may actually benefit the baby. It's a myth that strong flavors in the mother's diet will upset the baby. Instead, it can help make babies more adaptable to different tastes later in life.

4. Myth: Nipples Need Toughening Before Breastfeeding

Fact: The notion of toughening nipples is a myth. Preparation for breastfeeding focuses more on gentle care and getting the right advice, especially for specific conditions like flat or inverted nipples.

5. Myth: You Can't Breastfeed While Sick

Fact: Breastfeeding when you have a common illness like a cold or flu is actually advantageous. Breast milk is rich in antibodies that help protect the baby. It's crucial, though, to maintain good hygiene practices during these times.

6. Myth: Breastfeeding Works as Birth Control

Fact: While breastfeeding can delay ovulation, it should not be relied upon as a method of contraception. Women are encouraged to discuss other forms of birth control with their healthcare provider.

7. Myth: Formula Feeding Makes You a Bad Mother

Fact: Choosing or needing to formula feed does not reflect on a mother’s quality. The key is to provide the necessary nutrients and love to the baby, regardless of the feeding method.

Bonus Myth: Pacifiers Hinder Breastfeeding

Fact: Introducing pacifiers does not necessarily disrupt breastfeeding. They can be used from birth without significant impact on breastfeeding habits, as long as they don't replace or delay regular feedings.

Dispelling these myths is crucial for empowering new mothers. It helps them approach breastfeeding with more confidence and less anxiety, fostering a healthier environment for both mother and baby. Emphasizing the truth behind these common misconceptions can significantly ease the journey into motherhood.

Questions? Email Jack Newman at drjacknewman@sympatico.ca, or Edith Kernerman at breastfeeding@sympatico.ca or consult: Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding (called The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers in the USA) or our DVD, Dr. Jack Newman’s Visual Guide to Breastfeeding; or The Latch Book and Other Keys to Breastfeeding Success; or L-eat Latch & Transfer Tool, or the GamePlan for Protecting and Supporting Breastfeeding in the First 24 Hours of Life and Beyond.  See our website at www.drjacknewman.com.  To make an appointment email breastfeeding@ccnm.edu and respond to the auto reply or call 416-498-0002.

Handout Myths May 2008
Written and Revised by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC 1995-2005

  This handout may be copied and distributed without further permission,
on the condition that  it is not used in any context that violates
the International WHO Code on The Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes


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