Breastfeeding Myths and Facts

Most mothers don’t make enough milk.

This is a myth. Nursing your baby as soon as possible after birth and frequently thereafter will bring in a good milk supply. Expect your milk to “come in” two to five days after birth. The more your baby nurses, the more milk you will make.

While some moms do have chronic low supply, it’s rare for a woman to not produce any milk. Working with a lactation consultant can help maximize the amount of milk your baby will get.

UPMC CCP offers lactation consulting at select offices. For more information, visit our Lactation Consulting page.

Don’t let your baby use you as a pacifier.

This is a myth. You are the ultimate pacifier. In fact, pacifiers were made to mimic your breast.

If you can, allow all of your baby’s sucking needs to be met at the breast, especially in the early weeks, as your supply is being established. The rhythm of suckling and the hormones in your milk will make baby – and you – sleepy, which is a good sign that everything is normal.

It’s OK to use a pacifier occasionally if you need a break, but like any gadget, it can be overused. If your baby isn’t gaining weight, if he starts having problems latching or if your supply is low, getting rid of the pacifier would be the first step.

You do not need to drink tons of water to make milk.

This is a fact. Make sure you are eating enough and drinking to thirst, as dehydration and calorie restriction can negatively impact supply, but there is no need to overload on fluids.

You should stop breastfeeding once your baby is six months old.

This is a myth. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of your baby’s life. During the second six months, add solids and continue breastfeeding until one year old and beyond. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding up to two years old and beyond – the average age of weaning worldwide is at two and a half years of age.

While your baby will begin to take more calories from other foods as he gets older, breast milk still has many benefits, including immune factors that will keep him healthy, regardless of his age.

You need to get your baby used to a bottle early, especially if you’re going back to work.

This is a myth. Getting breastfeeding off to a good start should be the priority. To allow your baby to learn to breastfeed and for your milk supply to even out to meet your baby’s needs, wait to introduce a bottle until your baby is four-to-six-months-old. At that time, you can begin the process of pumping and trying bottles – maybe once a day – to plan for your return to work.

Of course, if you need to go back to work sooner than the above timeframe, you’ll need to start the transition to bottle earlier than four weeks. Any time a baby gets a bottle rather than breastfeeding, it can lead to low milk supply. If you do give your baby a bottle, you should pump at that time to keep producing milk.

You don’t need to watch what you eat if you’re breastfeeding.

This is a fact.

No, broccoli won’t cause a gassy baby, and spicy food won’t make your baby refuse your milk. Eat the foods you like, as there are no specific foods to avoid while breastfeeding. A healthy diet of natural foods will keep you feeling your best.

If you think your baby may be reacting to something in your diet, work with your pediatrician and lactation consultant to narrow down a possible offender.

Babies get all they need in the first 10 minutes of nursing. You need to let your breasts refill between feedings.

This is a myth. Your breasts will never be fully empty. As your baby nurses – or even as you pump – fresh milk is constantly being produced.

Follow your baby’s cues for feeding – as often as your baby shows hunger signs, put her to the breast, and allow her to nurse as long as she wants to on one side, then offer the other breast. If she’s still hungry, she will nurse longer. If not, you may need to pump the unused side to keep from getting overly full, then start on that side at the next feeding.

An average feeding is about 15 minutes per side, but some babies are very efficient and get what they need quickly, while others like to linger over their meals. And just like us, sometimes babies may want a quick snack, and other times they want a big meal.