Breastfeeding Myths

By Beth Ricciuti, RN, IBCLC

Myth # One

Do not pump until baby is 1 month old

Milk making is a process built on supply and demand. The more frequently a baby nurses at the breast, the more milk is made. The best way to ensure a good milk supply is to promote breastfeeding skills – that means plenty of time with baby feeding directly at breast.

But, what if the infant is not breastfeeding well? He or she may be falling asleep at the breast and mostly sucking, but not drinking. If this happens, it is encouraged to 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 offer back to baby as a supplement if needed.

What if the breasts are extremely engorged, causing discomfort or making it difficult for baby to latch? In these instances, we would encourage you to pump for comfort. Pumping for comfort is not time based – mostly likely for just a few minutes until some of the swelling in the breast has decreased.

Myth # Two

Pacifiers are bad for all breastfeeding infants.

While it’s best to wait until breastfeeding is well established (feeding is comfortable, milk supply is good, baby gaining weight), sometimes babies love to suck for comfort.

What if your infant wants to suck but just fed at the breast? Perhaps a short time with the pacifier is the answer. Parents can be the gatekeepers of the pacifier and choose when is best to offer to baby.

Sometimes offering the breast is not an option to help soothe a fussy baby.  Some examples: while traveling in the car or during 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 with breast compressions, unlatch baby from the breast. Stimulate by burping or changing the diaper. Offer the second breast. They don’t know if they’ve been on the breast for 5 minutes or 25 mins, what they do know is breast milk is yummy and their tummies are now full.

Infants often sleep for several hours during the day. 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, they will do a cluster feed to send the message to make more milk!

Predict the unpredictable. Babies are an awesome adventure.