7 common breastfeeding myths busted

Posted in Breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding myths – we’ve all heard them: ‘bigger breasts mean more milk’, ‘you can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding’ (uh, sadly not true at all).

We’re busting the seven most common breastfeeding myths, because this nursing journey can be difficult enough, without misinformation leading you astray.

Myth #1. Breastfeeding is natural, so it should be easy

Let’s just lay it all out on the line from the get-go: breastfeeding can be really difficult. And even if it isn’t at the start, life may throw you a curveball down the track (like mastitis or thrush) and you’re back to square one.

Breastfeeding is a different experience for every mum, and your journey is your own. If things don’t seem right – seek help. Remember, both you and your baby are learning how to breastfeed and that learning curve may be steeper for some mums and their babies.

breastfeeding outside sl

Myth #2. It will hurt

It may hurt, especially at the beginning, but it shouldn’t. The initial phase of your baby learning to latch onto the breast correctly can be uncomfortable, but real pain is a sign that you may need to adjust your baby’s latch, or that they may be having trouble latching due to issues such as a tongue or lip tie. Issues such as mastitis can also cause pain while feeding – again, this is a sign of a problem and shouldn’t be ignored.

Again, don’t suffer in silence. Talk to your GP, maternal child health nurse or a lactation consultant to make sure there isn’t an underlying issue causing the pain.

Myth #3. You’re not pregnant anymore, so you can eat/drink whatever you want!

It’s true that now your baby has been born, you can relax on those stringent pregnancy food rules around listeria, and lots of mums take the opportunity to celebrate with soft cheese and sushi.

But you still need to keep an eye on your diet, because your nutritional needs change while you’re breastfeeding – by a huge amount. Your body’s recommended daily intake of nutrients increases by up to 188 percent when breastfeeding, and when you’re busy and tired it can be difficult to eat well.

Aside from your nutritional needs, some foods – such as fruits that are high in acidity (oranges, apples), or caffeinated beverages like tea, coffee or cola – may also cause your milk to taste different, or even contribute to symptoms of reflux in your baby.

As for consuming alcohol, the Australian Breastfeeding Association recommends planning ahead, and remembering this rule: The concentration of alcohol in your blood is the concentration of alcohol in your milk.

“Alcohol gets into your breastmilk from your blood, moving freely from the blood to the breastmilk (and back out again). Alcohol will be in your breastmilk 30–60 minutes after you start drinking.”

To know when your breastmilk is free of alcohol, you can download the Feed Safe app.

Myth #4. Your baby should always feed for a set amount of time

One of the best bits of advice I was given from a lactation consultant was to think of your baby’s feeds the same way you think about your own meals. Sometimes you feel like a roast with all the trimmings. Sometimes, just a snack.

There’s no use watching the clock when your baby is feeding, it will only confuse you and cause stress when your baby’s feed seems shorter than you think it should be. Feel free to offer more if your baby seems keen after a little break from the feed and a burp, but trust that your baby will let you know when they have had enough. They will usually do this by pulling away from the breast or clamping their little mouth tight.

As a general rule, your baby will probably have a larger feed in the morning, or when they’ve woken from a long stretch of sleep. 

breastfeeding. mother breast feeding her baby toddler

Myth #5. You need to feed from both breasts at each feed

It’s best to let your bub feed fully from one breast, so they get both fore and hind milk. Some mums feed from both breasts at each feed in the first couple of weeks, as they try and establish a good milk supply.

Some babies will want to feed from the second breast as well, but some won’t. Or they won’t every time.

Another helpful bit of information my lactation consultant gave me was that we have enough milk for twins. So remember, as long as your baby seems satisfied and full – they are.

Myth #6. Babies get all the milk they need in the first few minutes of a feed

This is certainly not true of newborns, as they’re still learning feed efficiently. Just remember to relax and let them take their time learning how to latch, suck and swallow. They will get quicker with time.

Some babies are quicker to empty the breast than others, it doesn’t mean they’re doing it right and your baby is a ‘bad’ feeder. Every feeding relationship is different. 

Remember, babies suckle not just for nourishment, but also for comfort. If your baby likes a long, slow feed while enjoying that lovely closeness to Mummy, settle in and enjoy the quiet snuggle time – while it lasts!

Myth #7. If your newborn wants to feed all the time, you have a low milk supply

Actually, the opposite is probably true. Your body will be producing enough milk to keep up with your new baby’s demands, and the more they suckle, the more milk your body will produce.

Some newborns seem to ‘snack’ constantly, or go through phases of ‘cluster feeding’, while others have longer stretches between meals. There’s no scientific formula when it comes to how often, and for how long, a newborn baby will feed.

If you are concerned about your milk supply, pop in to your GP or maternal child health nurse who can help determine how your baby’s weight gain and general health are tracking, and therefore whether they are getting enough milk. Booking a session with a lactation consultant is also a great option if you want some expert guidance. 

Don’t compare your child and they way they feed to other babies. You are establishing a feeding relationship unique to you and your baby, so pat yourself on the back mama, you’re doing it right!


Parent School footer dinkusNeed some more feeding advice? Parent School’s International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants can help. Click to find out more or book a one-on-one session.  


Get more babyology straight to your inbox