What Have You Heard About Breastfeeding?

Hannah Cline's picture
By Hannah Cline on August 3, 2018

Have you ever noticed that when breastfeeding is mentioned everyone seems to have an opinion or advice? And while some of it may be helpful, a lot of it is simply not true.

To help moms tell fact from breastfeeding fiction, Carilion Clinic partnered with the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute to debunk some common misconceptions about breastfeeding. 

Myth: New mothers who breastfeed are the minority.

At least 75 percent of all women in the United States breastfeed. Many women, however, do not realize that breastfeeding is the norm.

Myth: Breastfeeding takes more time and preparation than formula feeding.

Contrary to popular belief, formula feeding takes more time on average than breastfeeding. This is due to the prep involved. Washing bottles, properly storing formula, running errands to buy formula and boiling water to mix the formula are all necessary factors when prepping to formula feed. Babies who are formula fed are also more prone to diarrhea, pneumonia, allergies and ear infections – all of which could take up a lot of additional time on behalf of the caregiver.

Myth: Formula has added growth and health benefits.

Breast milk is meant to provide a baby with optimal nutrition for six months and continues to be important for at least two years. When a child is formula fed, he or she is less likely to develop healthy eating patterns, which leads to a higher probability of childhood obesity.

Myth: Introducing formula does not decrease your milk supply.

Breastfeeding early and often is what makes a good milk supply. Early formula feeding, even in small amounts, can decrease your milk supply, and your baby may get used to the fast flow from the bottle.

Myth: Breastfeeding causes your breasts to sag.

After breastfeeding, breasts may not return to their original firmness or size, but that is not due to the breastfeeding itself. Size and firmness are more dependent on other factors such as genetics, age and weight gain/loss.

Myth: Some breasts are too large or too small to breastfeed.

Size does not matter. Small breasts can produce a full milk supply, and babies can breastfeed on large breasts as well. If you have widely spaced breasts, a history of breast surgery or any other concerns, contact your health care provider or a lactation consultant for an evaluation.

Myth: It is abnormal to have to breastfeed in the middle of the night.

Night waking and night feeding are normal. As adults, we are used to the daily routine of heading to bed in the evening and sleeping through the night. Babies, however, do not yet have that sense of night versus day. Because of they are continuing to grow, they require numerous feedings throughout the night.

Myth: Babies need water when it is hot outside.

Your milk or correctly prepared formula provides all the water your baby needs.

Myth: Formula is the same as breast milk.

Breast milk is a living, constantly changing food that provides everything a baby needs to grow and be healthy. The living parts of breast milk cannot be man-made and are often unique to the mother. 

Myth: You cannot breastfeed outside your home.

Mothers have the legal right to breastfeed in any public space. Some mothers may be more comfortable with that than others, so it is all about figuring out what is right for the individual.

If you have questions about breastfeeding, talk to your ob/gyn.