Breastfeeding Myths

By Beth Ricciuti, IBCLC

Myth # One

Mom should NOT pump for 1 month after infant’s birth.

Breastfeeding is a process built on supply and demand. We love our babies. They are cute, make little cooing noises and have breathtaking expressions. Mom’s generally have many “let-down’s” of milk when their beautiful infant is nursing at the breast. A mom typically does not have the same loving thoughts of her breast pump. The pump provides nipple stimulation. As a result, Mom may experience one or two let-downs of milk during a pump session. For this reason, we discourage pumping during the first month assuming the infant is the best extractor of milk from the breast.

What if the infant is not successfully transferring milk from the breast? – Please pump after offering the breast. This will provide extra stimulation to the breasts and extract some milk that is still left in the breast after the feeding. Remember supply/demand. Plus, pumping provides some pumped breast milk to possibly offer back to baby as a supplement.

What if Mom’s breasts are extremely engorged with milk, causing severe discomfort in Mom, making latching on baby impossible? In these instances, we would encourage you to pump for comfort. Pumping for comfort is not time based. Mom would just pump until some of the swelling in the breast has decreased. For some moms, it is as short as a few minutes when they no longer feel like their breasts are “bowling ball” size and can breath freely again.

Myth # Two

Pacifiers are bad for all breastfeeding infants.

Some babies can become confused when given an artificial nipple to suck on instead of Mom’s natural nipple. Other infants can go back and forth from a pacifier to the breast without issues. The key is moderation. Infant’s show signs of hunger- popping lips, sucking on hands, rooting to anything that touches their cheek. When given a pacifier, some feeding cues can be missed- potentially missing a feeding.

What if your infant loves to suck but just fed at the breast? Perhaps a short time with the pacifier is the answer. Make Mom/Dad the gatekeepers of the pacifier. They are the only ones that can offer the pacifier to the baby.

Sometimes breastfeeding is not safe or possible. Some examples: while in a car seat or receiving immunizations. This would be a good time to offer a pacifier to the infant.

Myth # Three

Babies eat/poop/sleep on a schedule.

Babies are unable to tell time or read a schedule. They know when they are hungry or full, wet or dry, tired or ready to play. A good rule of thumb is to watch your baby not the clock. For instance, when nursing your infant listen to baby’s swallows. When they slow down, you can do breast compressions/massage to move more milk to the baby. When swallows can no longer be heard despite more milk moving to the infant, detach the infant. Stimulate by burping or changing the diaper. Mom can offer the second breast for dessert. She does not know if she’s been on the breast for 5 minutes or 25 mins. She does know it’s yummy stuff and her tummy is now full.

Infants often fall asleep for several short naps during theday. Sometimes they chose not to sleep and want to breastfeed instead for an hour, also called a “cluster feed”. This could be caused by an upcoming growth spurt. When infants want to turn up the volume of your milk, he will do a cluster feed to send the message to Mom’s brain to make more milk. He is thinking of his future need for more milk.

Predict the unpredictable. Babies are an awesome adventure.