Breastfeeding Myths

(some content adapted from Breastmilk- Every Ounce Counts)

Myth: You will probably need to stop breastfeeding when you go back to work or school.

Fact: Going back to work or school doesn't have to mean the end of breastfeeding. If you can pump once approximately every three hours when you are away from your baby, you should be able to maintain adequate milk production.

When your baby is around six (6) months old and taking solid food, you may find that you can pump less frequently while at work or school and still maintain your milk supply.  Pumping after breastfeeding your baby at home may also help you maintain an adequate milk supply.

Texas Woman’s University has lactation rooms on all three campuses to help facilitate pumping breast milk while at work or school.

Myth: Breastfed babies don’t take milk from bottles. 

Fact: Most babies will nurse at the breast and drink from a bottle. You should plan to introduce your baby to a bottle between 2 to 6 weeks of age. Use the bottle for one or two feedings a day. Use your own breast milk when giving your baby a bottle and hold your baby close to your body in the same position that they like to breastfeed. If your baby has difficulty taking milk from a bottle you should contact a lactation consultant (see Local Resources under the Lactation Rooms links).

Myth: Breastfeeding prevents you from getting pregnant

Fact: Breastfeeding isn't guaranteed birth control. However, experts do believe breastfeeding is 98% effective -- similar to other forms of birth control. Exclusive breastfeeding (giving only breastmilk to your baby and no other supplements until 6 months of age) can suppress ovulation, but once your period returns you can get pregnant again.  Talk to your obstetric healthcare provider about contraception that won’t interfere with your body’s ability to produce milk. 

Myth: Don’t take any medicine while breastfeeding.

Fact: Most medications are safe to take while breastfeeding. Before taking medication check with a lactation consultant or your obstetric or pediatric care provider about the safety of taking that medication while breastfeeding. The Infant Risk Center has a hotline that you can call to check on the safety of medications and breastfeeding (806) 352-2519 Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm central time.

Myth: Breast feeding can cause postpartum depression.

Fact: Lack of family support, over-burdening workload, and improper diet are the factors that lead to postpartum depression. Women with a prior history of depression are also at risk of developing postpartum depression. No association of breastfeeding and postpartum depression has been seen.

If you are feeling depressed, anxious, exceptionally irritable, or are having trouble caring for yourself or your baby you may be experiencing postpartum depression.  Postpartum depression is relatively common after birth and is not your fault. Contact your obstetric health care provider who will help you with ways to feel better which may include counseling or medications.  Many times, just talking about your feelings with a loved one or a good friend helps relieve depressive symptoms. Breastfeeding can safely continue while you are receiving treatment for postpartum depression.

Myth: Breastfeeding mothers cannot drink alcohol.

Fact: Ingestion of alcoholic beverages should be minimized or limited to no more than 0.5 g alcohol per kilogram of body weight, which, for a 60-kg (132 lbs) mother, is approximately 2 oz liquor, 8 oz wine, or 2 beers. Ideally, nursing should take place at least 2 hours after drinking the alcohol so its concentration in breastmilk is lowest.  Mothers who ingest more alcohol or become intoxicated from alcohol should pump and discard their milk until they are sober.

The evidence on marijuana use during breast-feeding, however, is not clear, primarily because insufficient data exist. Researchers know that tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana, becomes concentrated in breastmilk up to 8 times greater than plasma levels. It is also stored in body fat with a half-life ranging from 20 hours to 5 days.

Myth: Breastfeeding should come naturally.

Fact: While women’s bodies are biologically designed to breastfeed, breastfeeding is actually a learned behavior. Learning to breastfeed takes time, patience, and lots of practice before you will feel confident. The first couple of weeks of breastfeeding can be challenging and frustrating as you get to know your baby and your baby gets to know you. Reaching out for support at local support groups, friends or family members who breastfed, and if needed, professional help from a lactation consultant or a healthcare provider who is knowledgeable about breastfeeding will help you gain confidence.

Myth: Skipping feedings or pumping won't affect my production.

Fact: When a hungry baby is breastfed, the breast and brain get the message to produce milk. If your child is fed from a bottle instead of directly from your breasts, extra milk could build up in your breasts. This can lead to painful overfullness, or engorgement. That, in turn, tells the brain to slow down milk production. To avoid both of these problems, the best solution is to pump at approximately each time your baby is fed with a bottle. 

Myth: Breastfeeding spoils babies if you do it too long.

Fact: Breastfeeding does not spoil a baby or make him too dependent on you. Breastfeeding should continue as long as you and your baby both want to.  Many babies are breastfed to age 2 or older. Children who breastfeed longer continue to get protective benefits from breastmilk.

Myth: Many women don’t produce enough breastmilk.

Fact: Breastfeeding works by supply and demand. The more often you breastfeed, the more milk your body will make. In the first 2-3 weeks of breastfeeding your baby should nurse 8-12 times per 24 hours.  Night feedings are normal and ensure that your baby is getting enough milk and that your body will make enough milk to support your baby’s growth. Most women who exclusively breastfeed and do not give formula or other supplements are able to make enough breastmilk to meet their baby’s needs.  Around 6 months-of-age your baby will begin to take solid food and will breastfeed less frequently because their demand for breastmilk is decreased. Breastfeeding through 1 year-of-age provides optimal health benefits for you and your baby.

Myth: Babies don’t need breastmilk after they start eating solid food.

Fact: Your baby will grow well on breastmilk alone until he is able to digest solid foods at about 6 months. Your baby will still need mostly breastmilk at 6 months of age and will gradually replace breastmilk with solid food as he gets older. Your breastmilk changes as your baby gets older. It provides the perfect nutrition at every age, even up to age 2 or older. It also protects your baby from getting sick and helps both of you stay healthier for the rest of your lives. No other food is as good for your baby as breastmilk.

Myth: Formula-fed babies are better sleepers.

Fact: It takes longer for babies to digest formula, so they may go longer between feedings and sleep for longer periods. However, breastfed babies are actually safer sleepers. The fact that they wake more often protects breastfed babies from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is one of the leading causes of death for infants younger than 1 year of age. Safer sleep is an important benefit of breastfeeding your baby.

Myth: Adding some cereal to the bottle will help your baby sleep through the night.

Fact: Babies can’t digest solid foods well until about 6 months. Adding cereal to a bottle does not provide any health benefits, and it does not help baby sleep through the night. Breastfed babies wake up often because breastmilk is easily digested, and their bodies continually need nutrition to keep up with how fast they are growing. Breastmilk is baby’s best bedtime snack.

Myth: Giving a bottle helps family members bond with the baby.

Fact: There are lots of ways for family members to bond with baby during those first critical weeks as you breastfeed and establish your milk supply. Encourage your family to hold, cuddle, and play with baby between feedings. This helps him grow, develop, and form healthy bonds, and it gives you a chance to rest.

Myth: Breastfeeding is rude to other people. No one else should see that.

Fact: You should never feel ashamed for feeding a hungry baby! You may feel more comfortable having privacy in the early weeks while you and your baby are learning to breastfeeding. After that, you can use a lightweight blanket as a cover if you want some privacy when feeding in public places. The law says you can breastfeed in public anywhere you are allowed to be, including restaurants, parks, stores, airplanes, buses, etc.

Page last updated 2:47 PM, April 24, 2019