Breastfeeding “Old Wives’ Tales”, Part 2

When it comes to breastfeeding, there’s a whole lot of folklore, pseudoscience, and questionably sourced claims out there—all of which are best taken with more than just a grain of salt. That’s why Dr. Jamie Routman, an OBGYN at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center, is here to help debunk some more commonly repeated breastfeeding myths.

If you’re not producing enough milk, just give your breast a ‘rest’—it will help you produce more.

Myth. Let me reiterate: the absolute key to maintaining milk supply above all else is pumping or nursing every 1-3 hours. Your breasts make milk according to how much you demand of them.

You should only breastfeed your baby for 3 months.

Myth.The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months of life. Once your baby is introduced to appropriate foods, the AAP advocates breastfeeding for at least a year or as long after as the you and your baby desire. The longer your baby is fed breast milk, the better it is for both of you.

You won’t start making ‘real milk’ for the first several days—as long as a week—after a baby is born.

Fact. It can take 5-7 days for milk to “come in.” In the meantime, the colostrum (thick yellow fluid) that your breasts make during those first few days is loaded with nutrients that will sustain your newborn. Plus, your newborn’s stomach is only about the size of a shooter marble—so it doesn’t take much to keep him or her satisfied.

Breastfeeding will be the ‘downfall’ of your breasts, changing their shape and size forever.

Myth. Breasts do change in size and shape. Some get smaller and some are larger after pregnancy. They can lose some of their prior “perkiness”, but some breast changes will occur regardless of breast or bottle feeding choice, due to the effects of pregnancy—not breastfeeding.

You should never wake a sleeping baby to breastfeed.

I’m going to defer this one to the pediatrician. Some babies, particularly premature ones, need to eat a certain amount of milk every 2 hours in order to grow, get stronger, and prevent jaundice. In this case, they may need to be awoken. But in general, breastfed babies will give you cues of sucking or nuzzling when they’re hungry. Crying is actually a late sign of hunger.

We hope you’ve enjoyed—and learned something from—our exploration of these common breastfeeding “Old Wives’ Tales.” Are there any you’re still wondering about? Talk to us on Facebook.

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