It’s practically a rite of passage for new parents to be bombarded with advice – from thoughtful, to unsolicited, to well-meaning, to just plain bad. We asked our community to share the worst breastfeeding advice they’ve ever received and as we expected, the comments came pouring in. Let’s break down what makes some of these tidbits a little (or a lot) less than helpful.
“While I was pregnant, someone told me to rough up my nipples with a washcloth or sandpaper so it wouldn’t hurt as much when baby latches.” – Andrea C.
What we say: Ouch! “Roughing up” your nipples is not at all necessary and can actually do more harm than good. It’s totally normal to have some nipple sensitivity and soreness as you begin breastfeeding due to hormonal changes and the fact that you’re new at it. More information about pain while breastfeeding >>
“To pump and dump when I was sick so baby wouldn’t catch it!” – Bridget W.
What we say: In most cases, you can (and should!) continue breastfeeding if you have a cold or the flu. Breast milk gives your baby the best protection against sickness and very few illnesses can be passed on through breast milk. Plus, if you do have a contagious illness, your baby was probably exposed to it before you showed any symptoms. Talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns you may have or before starting over-the-counter medications – not all cold and flu remedies are compatible with breastfeeding.
“Your newborn is fussy at night because you’re not producing enough.” – Tia M.
What we say: Babies cry for a lot of reasons, only one of which is hunger. They cry because they’re gassy, over-stimulated, tired, bored, teething, uncomfortable, or for seemingly no reason at all. It can be difficult to determine the cause of your little one’s fussiness, but trust your body and your milk supply. How to tell if your baby is getting enough breast milk >>
“It happens naturally and the baby will know how to do it.” – “Nicole K.
What we say: It’s true that breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally to every mom and baby. Remember that you and your little one are both new at it, and it takes time and practice to get the hang of it – just like any other skill. You can prepare for the experience of breastfeeding by planning to deliver in a Baby-Friendly Hospital or by taking a class on breastfeeding. Medela also offers an online educational program, Breastfeeding University, to help expecting moms get ready for a successful journey. And when it’s time for your journey to begin, we’re here for you every step of the way.
“That you need to drink milk to make milk!” – Amber D.
What we say: It’s always great to stay hydrated, but you absolutely do not need to drink milk to make breast milk. And, although you may have altered your diet or avoided certain foods while you were pregnant, you don’t have to stress as much while breastfeeding – breast milk is created by taking nutrients already present in your bloodstream. Learn more about how your diet affects your breast milk >>
“That if I breastfed, my husband won’t be able to bond with the baby because he can’t feed them.” – Alyssa S.
What we say: Breastfeeding means lots of special time shared between mom and baby, but there are countless other ways to foster a wonderful bond between your baby and your partner. Tips for sharing the love >>
“I was told that my 8-month-old was too old to breastfeed and that babies don’t benefit from breast milk after 6 months. So glad I didn’t listen!” – Kendra Q.
What we say: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for as long as you and your child mutually desire it, and there’s no reason to wean until you and your baby are ready. Extended breastfeeding provides numerous benefits for your child and for mom, too. It’s unfortunate that Western society tends to stigmatize mothers who choose to nurse “older” children, but remember that only you can decide what’s best for your baby.
If you have a breastfeeding question or concern, there are resources out there that can help you more than any old wives’ tale can. Find a Lactation Professional near you or get assistance from Medela’s Lactation Consultant via email, free of charge.
Have you ever heard a piece of breastfeeding advice that made you say, “huh?” Share with us in the comments below.