Busting breastfeeding myths

MYTH: All breastfeeding babies need to drink the same amount of food at each feed just like formula babies do.

Truth: When a baby is breastfeed, that baby will take in a different amount of breast milk at each feed. In a twenty-four hour period, a baby needs to take in a certain amount of total ounces and a certain amount of total calories in order to thrive, but that baby will take in a different amount of milk at each individual feed, depending on the infant’s hunger and mood. When an infant is bottle fed, the caregiver will pour the exact amount of formula into a bottle at each feed and expect the baby to drink the entire poured amount. Even if the child turns his head a way, the caregiver will do her best to try to “force” the child to eat the amount in the bottle. With breastfeeding, the breast does not show “ounces”; the normal, healthy baby is allowed to take in what he wants and needs. (Assuming that the baby is not the product of a premature birth or has a suckling disorder–to name the most common difficulties.) So, for example, a six week old baby might take in 2.4 ounces at one feed, 3 ounces at the next feed and only 1.8 ounces during the following feed. As a general rule, the thing to remember is, “what goes in, must come out”. Looking at diapers is the way nursing mothers are supposed to gage how the breastfeeding is going. As long as the baby is producing six to eight diapers in a twenty-four hour period, and is happy, the breastfeeding mother can stop worrying about “how much the baby is getting”.

Myth: I need to pump all of the excess milk out of my breast after the baby breastfeeds, so that there will be more milk for my baby’s next feed.

Truth: Pumping after each feed is not only unnecessary, but can also cause other problems. A woman is not supposed to “drain” her breast after the baby nurses to insure she has enough milk for the next feed. If the baby is nursing well and is happy, there will automatically be the perfect amount of milk produced for her baby both during her present feed as well as for the next feed. Besides, there is no such thing as “emptying” a breast. The breast does not fill up with milk then drain out, but instead, the breast will continue to refill with milk every time milk is taken out. That is why if a woman had to nurse another woman’s baby, after nursing her own baby, she would still produce enough milk for both babies. Consequently, pumping after each feed actually gives the brain the incorrect message–to produce more milk then the woman needs. With proper nursing, the woman’s brain will judge how much milk is coming out of the breast and will help calculate the amount the baby needs at the next feed. This is not to say, that if you must occasionally leave your baby it would be wrong to pump, however, pumping habitually after each feed only serves to confuse the body. Excess pumping can also cause unnecessary engorgement and often sore nipples because the pressure of a pump on the nipple is different than the pressure of a baby nursing