8 Breastfeeding Myths to Put to Rest

Mother breastfeeding baby.
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Many people associate breastfeeding as being a beautiful and seamless bonding experience between a mother and her baby. While this is certainly the case for many moms, there's no denying that breastfeeding can come with certain challenges through no fault of your own. In today's day and age, there are various modern developments available to help make breastfeeding easier, but there's also still a lot of misinformation and conflicting advice out there. The following are eight common breastfeeding myths, debunked once and for all.

Myth 1: It's Normal for Breastfeeding to Hurt

This is only half-true. It's certainly common for breastfeeding to be painful for many moms, but you don't have to just deal with it. Remedies for breastfeeding pain include ice packs, ointments such as Lanolin, over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol, or breathing and relaxation techniques. A lactation consultant can also be a great resource to help you determine if you may have a poor latch and show you how to correct it.

Myth 2: It's Not Possible to Have a Low Supply

While many moms are able to produce a healthy milk supply (or excess supply, in some cases) for their babies, a small percentage experience a low supply. Common causes include a poor latch, not breastfeeding often enough, or a baby that isn't breastfeeding long enough at each feeding. It could also be due to an underlying medical issue, though, so it's always wise to talk to your doctor to determine if you may need to supplement with formula.

Myth 3: You Should Be Nursing Your Baby for 10 Minutes on Each Side

The American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend alternating breasts at each feeding to ensure you're establishing a full milk supply. This will bring comfort for both you and baby, as your baby will be getting enough milk, and you'll feel relief from enough milk being removed from both breasts. However, there is no set amount of time you need to have your baby on each breast. It can vary anywhere from five to 20 minutes on each side, depending on how hungry they are at the moment.

Myth 4: Formula is Not a Safe Alternative to Breastmilk

While the AAP considers breastmilk to be the healthiest way to feed a baby, it concurs that infant formula is a safe alternative for babies whose mothers can't or choose not to breastfeed. Infant formula is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration to ensure they comply with the nutritional requirements in the federal Infant Formula Act. Additionally, all formulas sold in the U.S. are required to meet the same nutrient specifications to meet the nutritional needs of infants.

Myth 5: You Can't Breastfeed If You're on Any Medication

According to the AAP, most medications and immunizations are safe to take or receive while breastfeeding. Still, it's important to inform your child's pediatrician of all medications you may be taken so they can confirm it won't pose a risk to your baby.

Myth 6: You Can't Breastfeed With Mastitis

Mastitis, also commonly referred to as a breast infection, involves painful swelling or inflammation of the breast tissue and is commonly caused by issues such as engorgement, blocked milk ducts or fatigue. While you may need to take antibiotics to get over the infection, you can continue to breastfeed during this time. In fact, continuing to breastfeed (or expressing your milk with a breast pump) may help to bring you relief by keeping your breastmilk flowing.

Myth 7: It's Illegal to Breastfeed in Public

Quite the opposite—as of 2018, it's actually legal to breastfeed in public in all 50 states. Certain public spaces (such as airports) may offer designated nursing rooms, but you are not obligated to use them if it's not convenient, and if no such option is offered, you're certainly not obligated to pump or breastfeed in the restroom. Additionally, while it may make you feel more comfortable to use a nursing cover, the law doesn't require you to do that either.

Myth 8: You Won't Bond Enough With Your Baby if You Pump

Many new mothers pump milk for a variety reasons, from having to return to work, wanting to split nighttime feedings with Dad, or even if they simply have a baby who won't latch properly. Pumping is a perfectly healthy way to continue to maintain your supply and ensure your baby is eating enough, and there are certainly other ways you will bond with your baby during their early years.

A Word From Verywell

While many moms dream of being able to breastfeed their infants, it's not always smooth sailing. It's good to make sure you're educated on all the options available to you, and to feel comfortable bringing up potential issues with your provider to help you find a solution. Remember: a happy and healthy baby also needs a happy and healthy mom.

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