common breastfeeding myths explained. breastfeeding misinformation.

On a local parenting facebook group recently, women were sharing stories of breastfeeding myths they’d been told, and had believed – more often than not by health professionals who they had trusted to have a lot of experience and a greater knowledge than themselves.

Things like, “I was told that my baby had wind because I’d just drunk a can of Coke”, or “I was told that breastmilk production was related to activity, and I’d need to laze around like a cow all day”, and my own interesting piece of advice, given when Arlo was around 9 months old and I mentioned that he still fed during the night, “Give him pudding after all of his meals, and then he will sleep through the night”.

THAT’S the secret, guys ; )

The varying information we are given about breastfeeding can be massively confusing,frustrating, and in some cases, upsetting. But, the best way to counteract breastfeeding misinformation is to keep talking about breastfeeding, sharing our knowledge, and distinguishing between what is fact and what is myth.

Breastfeeding advice – 6 common breastfeeding myths explained

Breastfeeding ties the mother down. Not true! But it depends how you look at it. A baby can be breastfed anywhere, anytime, and thus breastfeeding is liberating for the mother. No need to drag around bottles or formula. No need to worry about where to warm up the milk. No need to worry about sterility. No need to worry about how your baby is, because he is with you. Your baby is as portable as they will ever be, so this is a big breastfeeding myth. 

It is easier to bottle feed than to breastfeed. Not true! Or, this should not be true. However, breastfeeding is made difficult because women often do not receive the help they should to get started properly. Breastfeeding advice from the professionals can be a bit of a postcode lottery, and a lack of good support in the early days of breastfeeding can indeed make breastfeeding difficult. But a poor start can also be overcome. Breastfeeding is often more difficult at first, due to a poor start, but usually becomes easier later.

After exercise a mother should not breastfeed. Not true! There is absolutely no reason why breastfeeding after exercising should be an issue. The study that purported to show that babies were fussy feeding after mother exercising was poorly done and contradicts the everyday breastfeeding experience of millions of mothers.

Breastfeeding is blamed for everything. True! Family, health professionals, neighbours, friends and taxi drivers will blame breastfeeding if the mother is tired, nervous, weepy, sick, has pain in her knees, has difficulty sleeping, is always sleepy, feels dizzy, is anaemic, has a relapse of her arthritis (migraines, or any chronic problem) complains of hair loss, change of vision, ringing in the ears or itchy skin. Breastfeeding will be blamed as the cause of marriage problems and the other children acting up. Breastfeeding is to blame when the mortgage rates go up and the economy is faltering. And whenever there is something that does not fit the “picture book” life, the mother will be advised by everyone that it will be better if she stops breastfeeding.

A breastfeeding mother has to be obsessive about what she eats. Not true! A breastfeeding mother should try to eat a balanced diet, but neither needs to eat any special foods nor avoid certain foods. A breastfeeding mother does not need to drink milk in order to make milk. A breastfeeding mother does not need to avoid spicy foods, garlic, cabbage or alcohol. A breastfeeding mother should eat a normal healthful diet. Although there are situations when something the mother eats may affect the baby, this is unusual. Most commonly, “colic”, “gassiness” and crying can be improved by changing breastfeeding techniques, rather than changing the mother’s diet.

Breastfeeding babies need other types of milk after six months. Not true! Breast milk gives the baby everything there is in other milks and more. Babies older than six months should be started on solids mainly so that they learn how to eat and so that they begin to get another source of iron, which by 7-9 months, is not supplied in sufficient quantities from breast milk alone. Thus cow’s milk or formula will not be necessary as long as the baby is breastfeeding. However, if parents wish to give milk after 6 months, there is no reason that the baby cannot get cow’s or goat’s milk, as long as the baby is still breastfeeding a few times a day, and is also getting a wide variety of solid foods in more than minimal amounts. Some babies older than six months who have never had formula will not accept it because of the taste.

For further accurate, interesting, and supportive breastfeeding resources, I recommend Kellymom and Analytical Armadillo. 

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This post is part of the Breastfeeding Scavenger hunt.  Check out some of the other bloggers and companies taking part:

My Baby Boy and Me | Being Mum | Family Fever | Attachment Feminism | My Thoughts on Things | Charlotte Keating

There is a lot of breastfeeding misinformation out there that can have new mothers thinking that breastfeeding is much more tiresome, invasive, and inconvenient than it really is. The varying information we are given about breastfeeding can be massively confusing, frustrating, and in some cases, upsetting. But, the best way to counteract breastfeeding misinformation is to keep talking about breastfeeding facts, sharing our knowledge of breastfeeding tips, and distinguishing between what is fact and what is myth when it comes to breastfeeding advice.  #breastfeeding #newborn #breastfeedingtips #breastfeeedingadvice #nursingmoms

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25 comments

  1. Great post! I’m so glad that I stuck with breastfeeding after a very difficult start but we’re now 5 months in and I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done x

  2. My Mum told me not to eat curry, not so much for the gassiness as the nappy that followed – I’m not sure whether it was a myth and a coincidence or a correlation but I was never willing to run the experiment again! I did find some correlation between my diet and the girls; Kitty was a very spitty up baby and my eating cheese or too much dairy set it off, just as too much dairy in me exacerbated Elma’s eczema so I’m still waiting on my baked brie – but it’s worth the wait for me!

    1. Yes, cow’s milk protein in breastmilk is most definitely a ‘thing’ – I found the same with Arlo and went dairy free for about 6 months until he could tolerate it again. Not sure about the curry one, I eat A LOT of curry (BIG fan of curry) and haven’t noticed a nappy difference.

  3. I think that midwives need to realistically tell pregnant ladies that breastfeeding can be hard to get the hang of to start with but that it gets much easier after 2 weeks, and by 6 weeks is usually second nature. I think if mums were given this info from the start more might stick at it through the tough first few weeks and not think they were failing just because it didnt come naturally and easily!

  4. You can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding… our first born was 20 weeks old when I started expecting his little brother x

  5. I was told to make milk I need to drink milk. I hate milk, but still breastfeeding at 13 months so definitely not true!!x

  6. That formula is sometimes necessary. If a baby cannot feed direct from the mother’s breast, they can have her expressed milk, be wet nursed by another woman, or drink donated expressed milk. Even in cases where babies have conditions such as primary lactose intolerance or phenylketonuria, breastmilk could be processed to be suitable for them (instead of using a special cow’s milk based formula in those cases). But that doesn’t make anyone money…

  7. Too many myths to list! One I’d heard a lot and believed is that breastfeeding after 1 is just for the mum’s benefit…No! The WHO recommends at least 2 years, breastfeeding continues to be nutritious and comforting whatever the child’s age and you can’t force a child to breastfeed!

  8. I was told that with my dairy & other allergies which the girls have inherited it would be simpler for me to bottle feed prescription formula…. I think not – who wants to feed their little ones completetly synthetic formula when your overrun with perfectly good ‘mummy made’?! ! and the middle one fed til 2 and the littlest still going at 16months would agree with me! also told to stop to make them sleep more because past 6months babies only breastfeed for comfort!!!

  9. That you could not get pregnant whilst breastfeeding … by my GP who would not prescribe me the contraceptive pill!! Poor practice.

  10. I must have been well-informed – no misleading information! A breastfeeding workshop while I was pregnant helped with that, both my husband and I attended.

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