Ten Breastfeeding Myths
Myth #1: Formula is just as good for babies as breast milk.
Reality: Formula is not as good for babies as breast milk. Breast milk is the optimal nutrition for babies. Breast milk contains all the vitamins and minerals your baby needs to grow and develop, and antibodies to protect your baby from illnesses. Although formula may contain most of the vitamins your baby needs, it does not contain any antibodies and therefore will not protect your baby from illness like breast milk will.
Myth #2: Breastfed babies need additional formula and nutritional supplements.
Reality: Most breastfed babies only need breast milk. As long as your baby is growing and thriving, she does not need any kind of supplement. Just be sure to feed her whenever she shows signs of hunger or every 1-2 hours.
Myth #3: Breastfeeding will interfere with my partner’s ability to bond with baby.
Reality: There are many, many ways to bond with a baby. Your partner can bond with the baby through cuddling, holding, hugging, kissing, rocking, and skin-to-skin contact. Your partner can be responsible for other parts of caring for the baby, such as changing diapers, getting dressed and bathing. Your partner can be involved in the breastfeeding process by supporting and encouraging you to give your baby the best nourishment available.
Myth #4: I shouldn’t bother breastfeeding my baby because I need to return to work after six weeks.
Reality: You should definitely breastfeed your baby even if you are returning to work after six weeks. First, you will be able to give your baby at least six weeks of the best nourishment available. Second, you may be able to pump breast milk during those first six weeks that can be fed to your baby through a bottle after you return to work. Third, you may find that you are able to maintain some level of breastfeeding even after you return to work by pumping during breaks or breastfeeding before and after work. Any amount of breast milk is better for your baby than none.
Myth #5: My baby isn’t getting enough breast milk so I should supplement with formula.
Reality: Many women fear that their babies are not getting enough milk since they cannot see the amount the baby is eating. If you are afraid your baby is not getting enough milk, you should consult your pediatrician to monitor the baby’s growth and development. Usually, as long as the baby is continuing to gain weight at an appropriate rate, he is getting enough breast milk.
If you need to increase your milk supply, increase the frequency of feedings. If you supplement with formula you will decrease your own milk supply. Typically your baby will let you know when he needs more to eat by showing signs of hunger more often, therefore increasing feedings.
Myth #6: My baby isn’t sleeping through the night so I should feed her baby cereal.
Reality: Breastfed babies typically do not sleep through the night. Babies metabolize breast milk rather quickly and may require feeding every 1-2 hours throughout the night. Though possibly inconvenient, it is good for babies to wake a lot during the night because it means their organs are all working properly.
Some formulas and baby cereals may help some babies enter a deeper and longer sleep, however several research studies connect this deeper sleep to the increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) among formula-fed babies.
Myth #7: It’s easier to feed my baby formula than to breastfeed.
Reality: Breastfeeding can be difficult, especially in the beginning. With time and practice, breastfeeding can become quite easy and very convenient. Unlike formula, breast milk is free, comes in the right quantity for the baby and is always the right temperature.
Myth #8: I will have to stop breastfeeding when my baby’s teeth come in.
Reality: Breast milk provides many benefits to teething babies. Breast milk contains analgesic (pain relieving) properties that automatically increase when the baby is teething. As a result, your baby will probably want to breastfeed more when he is teething. Your baby may test out his teeth on your breast, but you can teach him not to do this by being firm and consistent.
Myth #9: My baby likes formula better than breast milk.
Reality: Breast milk offers many benefits over formula. However, most bottles are easier to drink out of compared with nursing. Babies often find it easier to bottle-feed and may act as if they like formula better than breast milk. However, the benefits of breast milk outweigh the ease for baby to drink formula.
Myth #10: Breastfeeding will make my breasts saggy.
Reality: Most women’s breasts grow during pregnancy and then shrink at some point postpartum regardless of whether they choose to breastfeed. This, along with age, makes them saggy.
Hector Cruz is the Founder of the global campaign “Project: BreastFeeding”. He is passionate about helping to educate men of the importance of their roles in breastfeeding support. He is married and has a beautiful daughter and two dogs.