Breastfeeding Myths

There are some statements that I routinely hear in my line of work that require further clarification. They are as follows:

But isn’t the breast as good as the bottle?

NO!!! Many argue they are not even comparable; it is like comparing apples to oranges. Yes, they are two different ways to feed a baby but the similarities stop there. Breastfeeding is much more than simply feeding your baby; the medicinal (including immunological), emotional, social-developmental, economical, and nutritional aspects of breastfeeding can not be duplicated. Formula exists only as the only other alternative that can provide a baby food. (Yes, there are some women who choose not to breastfeed or who choose to give their babies formula, and as long as they are making an informed decision, then they will always have my support.)

In order for Dad to participate parents need to give some bottles; you do not want to exclude Dad.

Define participation! Breastfeeding is a FAMILY AFFAIR; moms need Dad’s help, support, and love. Who said Dad would not be participating. Who else will help wake, burp, cuddle, keep an eye on progress,and encourage moms while they navigate through the breastfeeding process?

Just because a father can not physically breastfeed does not mean he will not be involved. “The desire to participate should not be confused with the need to give the baby the best of what each partner has to offer” (Baumslag & Michels, 1995). Let’s face it, only mom can give birth and breastfeed, but that does not mean that Dad does nothing or can not show the baby other forms of love and affection. Getting involved in all the other aspects of parenting is something any father can do.

You should nurse your baby 10 minutes on one side and 10 minutes on the other and repeat this every 3-4 hours.

The first thing I want to know is how old is the person giving this advice (or how old was the book they read); this advice is antiquated not to mention inaccurate. The second thing I would want to know is “did the baby get the memo”, babies do not know how to follow the rules or how to adhere to strict schedules.

Stick with the basics: babies need 8-12 feedings every day, nurse one side until your infant is done (falls asleep, falls off, is no longer vigorously sucking–using common sense to guide you, see How do I Know My Infant is Getting Enough) this is the main meal, and I always offer dessert (the other side).

You are feeding too often (this is usually followed/accompanied with)– if you feed a bottle at night you will get more sleep.

I believe you can not overfeed a breastfed baby. In the beginning, when you are just getting started, the frequent removal of milk from the breasts helps to keep milk production on track. I am just going to come out and say it—Breastfed babies eat 8-12 times every day! Yes, this is often more feedings than a baby who is receiving formula. Formula fed babies eat every 3-4 hours, typically (that is 6-8 feedings daily). Let’s assume that you choose to breastfed because it is best for your baby (and for you); isn’t it worth the couple of extra feedings a day.

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