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By: Renee Bowling RN, Certified Breastfeeding Educator

Nursing a baby can be one of the greatest experiences a mother can have, but can also be one of the hardest jobs she might undertake. Many of the following myths surround breastfeeding.

breastfeeding, motherhoodcenter, breastfeeding class, myths, breastfeeding myths, lactationMom cannot take any medications while nursing:

Moms should always tell their doctor that they are nursing before being given a medication. However, it is very rare that mom must stop nursing while taking medications. If your doctor recommends you stop nursing while on a medication, ask them to find an alternative drug to take or look at the timing of the drug delivery and work it out around feeds. There is a lot of research that has been done on medications and breastfeeding. Dr. Thomas Hale’s book Medications in Mothers Milk is a great resource that physicians may use when prescribing drugs to breastfeeding moms.

Mom should not nurse the baby when she is sick:

The best thing mom can do for her baby when she is sick is to continue nursing. The baby has already been exposed to whatever illness mom is sick with, and mom is now making her own antibodies to help her overcome the illness. These antibodies will be passed to the baby to help protect them against becoming ill.

A breastfeeding baby requires water during hot seasons:

No. Breastfeeding babies get all the water they need from nursing. 

Giving the baby solids or formula at night will help the baby to sleep better: 

There have been two studies done on this subject and they both say that this is not true. Sometimes the baby even sleeps worse due to intestinal discomfort from the formula or foods, especially if younger than 6 months of age. While it is true that formula is much harder to digest than breastmilk, so the baby may not be hungry as soon, we know that babies are made to get up and eat throughout the night. Research done by Dr. James McKenna shows that babies who sleep longer stretches may be more vulnerable to SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Breastfeeding is inconvenient and ties mom down:

It is probably true that in the early weeks of breastfeeding it would be much easier to just give a bottle of formula. But as breastfeeding becomes better established, around 4-6 weeks of baby’s age, the work load of a mom who is nursing is much less than the work load of a mom who is doing bottles with either breastmilk or formula. As babies get older they become much more efficient on the breast and their feeds become fast. They also don’t nurse 8-12 times in 24 hours for forever. But nursing allows mom to be able to leave the house with her baby and be able to feed them when needed without having to do any prep work, like pumping, making bottles, keeping the stored milk cold when out and then cleaning all those bottles. A breastfeeding mom’s workload is much less in the later months than a mom who is bottle feeding.

Never wake a sleeping baby:

Newborns need to eat 8-12 times in 24 hours for probably the first 4 weeks or longer. If the baby is not going to demand on their own at least 8 feeds, then the baby should be woken up to feed. Dad needs to be able to feed the baby a bottle in order to bond with the baby: Babies require 24/7 care and there are multiple ways that dad can help and bond with his baby without feeding the baby. Dad can do skin to skin time with the baby. He can assist mom during breastfeeding sessions, by supporting her by bringing her the baby, food, or water and they helping change diapers and settle the baby back down to sleep etc… There is a life time for bonding.

Mom needs to “pump and dump” after drinking alcohol:

If mom is feeling the effects of the alcohol then it is in her milk. Generally if mom has one drink the alcohol will be out of her system in about 2 hours. There are test strips you can purchase to check to see if alcohol is present in your milk. Obviously we don’t want the baby to have milk that has alcohol in it, but the occasional drink is probably ok.

To find out more about Motherhood Center’s lactation consultants, breast pump rentals and breast feeding support, click here: Breastfeeding Support