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Breastfeeding myths debunked

Monica Beyer is a mom of four and has been writing professionally since 2000, when her first book, Baby Talk, was published. Her main area of interest is attachment parenting and all that goes with it, including breastfeeding, co-sleepin...

Expert reassures new moms

If you’re expecting a baby and plan to breastfeed, chances are you’ve heard one or more statements about nursing that simply aren’t true.

We chatted with a breastfeeding expert to help allay any concerns you have about breastfeeding your baby and help you get off on the right start.

Breastfeeding may be natural, but if you hear a lot of misinformation, it can lead to problems that don’t need to happen. We were able to sit down with Amy Spangler, a certified lactation consultant and child feeding expert, to find out what the most common breastfeeding myths were and whether they had any truth behind them.

Pain and engorgement myths

Have you heard that pain and engorgement while breastfeeding is normal? A little bit of both is, but Amy warns that regular or excessive occurrences of either needs to be explored further. “If feedings are infrequent, delayed or missed, your breasts can overfill and engorgement can occur,” she explained. “And any discomfort should occur only at the start of a feeding and last only a few seconds. If the pain persists throughout the feeding, it can signal a poor latch.”

Pumping myths

Moms who have experience with breast pumps will tell you that it’s certainly a labor of love, but don’t look into the ounces expressed for the full truth. “How much milk a mother expresses from her breasts is seldom a reflection of how much milk she makes,” she said. “In the beginning, you may get only enough milk to cover the bottom of the collection container. Don’t worry. It can take days or weeks before you see an increase in the amount obtained.”

And keep in mind that you don’t need to wait any amount of time after pumping to nurse your baby. “In fact, the more milk you remove from your breasts by breastfeeding or pumping, the more milk you will make,” she told us.

”Making enough milk” myths

It’s common to worry about whether or not you’re making enough milk — after all, your breasts don't have ounce markings on them! Fortunately, Amy says that most moms make plenty of milk for their babies. “You can be sure your baby is getting enough to eat if your baby has at least one stool a day on days 1 and 2; and three or more stools a day by day 3,” she explained.

And many moms wonder if their baby needs a formula supplement, perhaps thinking that it’s difficult or impossible to breastfeed exclusively. Amy says this is not so. “The fact is, most mothers are able to breastfeed their babies exclusively. Although formula supplements are widely used, their use is seldom medically indicated.”

Getting help

If you have questions or concerns, contact a local lactation consultant. She can help you with positioning and latch. Some areas even have breastfeeding support groups where you meet with other moms and lactation consultants and get your baby weighed each week. If you’re feeling down, don’t give up without a fight.

More on breastfeeding

Why you should breastfeed your toddler
Breastfeeding: Why pumping or covering may not be an option
What are breastfeeding nurse-ins all about?

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