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15 Breastfeeding Myths Science Hasn't Proven Yet

One of the most dreaded anticipated experiences moms-to-be are anxious to have is breastfeeding. They spend weeks and weeks researching all there is to know — namely, asking their been-there-done-that mom friends about their own experiences. As a result, there's a lot of misinformation going on out there! One would think that, in this day and age, people would Google more and pay attention to trustworthy websites that have tons of useful information on breastfeeding, but no! Everyone would rather listen to whatever their friend Jeanine has to say and, well, that's how myths are born.

But, because our readers want to know the cold hard truth, let's debunk those myths. No, Karen, it's not true that breastfeeding is supposed to be "super painful." It's also not true that breastfeeding works as birth control, even if Carol, that kind of obnoxious friend-of-a-friend, insists on telling that same story over and over again.

What experienced moms do know about breastfeeding is that, according to the World Health Organization, it protects infants against childhood illnesses by providing them with healthy nutrients. Moms also know that breastfeeding is affordable for everyone — the formula is expensive, girl! — and that it is always available.

If new moms are able to breastfeed, they should definitely try to go for it! Don't believe the myths, they're just old wives tales.

15 No Breastfeeding For Those With Fake Girls

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I was a size A cup from the time I hit puberty up until I got pregnant with my first. I hated my extremely small girlfriends. I hated them even more when my slightly older cousin got hers done. "Whyyyyy mom?" I used to whine all the time. If I had been my mom, I would've probably caved and agreed to surgery years ago.

But, my mom told me over and over again, "if you get implants you won't be able to feed your babies, is that what you want?" Always with an inquisitive tone in her voice. I didn’t know much about babies back then, but I knew I wanted to have them, and I knew that I wanted to breastfeed. So there were no silicones for me!

Well, as it turns out, I could’ve rocked a C cup and breastfed my babies with no issues.

FitPregnancy.com published a quote from Carol Huotari, I.B.C.L.C., a manager at La Leche League International, which says, “these days, implants are usually inserted near the armpit or under the boob tissue or chest muscle, which shouldn't interfere with breastfeeding.”

However, there might be an issue with breastfeeding, says Huotari, “if you had surgery in which the nip nip was removed in order to insert the implant and then reattached.” Since the removal and reattachment of the girls' accessories interferes with the nerves, it may make letdown impossible.

14 Small Girlfriends Equal Less Milk (Or Not Enough Milk)

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Well, damned if I do, damned if I don’t. Another breastfeeding-related milk myth is that a small cup results in less milk production. So, hear me out, this meant that as an A cup I couldn’t get some work done because I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed, but I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed anyway because I was an A cup. See where I’m going with this?

I wasn’t able to breastfeed my first time around, but turns out it had nothing to do with the size of my gals — which, by the way, were up to a C/D cup by the time my son was born — or with anything other than my own misinformation, lack of support, and the fact that my son was a preemie.

According to Judith Lauwers, I.B.C.L.C., a spokesperson for the International Lactation Consultant Association, “the tissue you need to nurse a baby grows in response to pregnancy regardless of your breast size.” And grew my ladies, they did. Where were you when I had all the questions, Judith?

The milk ducts are actually located in the functional tissue — which is the one that grows when you get pregnant — as opposed to the fatty tissue, the one responsible for your bra size. So, rest assured not only that your itty bitties will be able to provide enough milk for your babes, but also that they will no longer be small when the time comes.

13 Bottle Feeding Will Make Your Gals Disappear

I don’t know who came up with this myth — probably a dad who refused to wake up to feed the baby in the middle of the night. “Sorry, dear! I wish there was something I could do to help you out. I guess there’s no point in both of us getting no sleep, so good night!” But it’s another one I fell for when my son was born.

It is true that there might be some difficulties that can happen early on.

But according to Nancy Mohrbacher, I.B.C.L.C., “you don’t know if you’re going to have that issue or not, but if your baby does get a bottle at some point early on, that does not mean breastfeeding is ruined or that he or she is definitely going to suffer from so-called “nipple confusion.”

My preemie had been given formula in the hospital because I wasn’t producing enough milk. He was in the NICU and had an extremely weak suction, so that wasn’t helping. I was still determined to breastfeed him, but I had absolutely no idea what to do when I first brought him home.

In an extremely ridiculous move, we gave him the little bottles of formula that were left over from the hospital during the day and waited until we had an extremely hungry and upset newborn at 2 am to try to breastfeed for the first time. Needless to say, it was a disaster. I caved in and gave him a bottle, and basically accepted that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed my baby ever again because of the dreaded nipple confusion.

12 Water And Healthier Foods Give More Milk

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I have to say, this has to be a myth. As I’ve mentioned before, I wasn’t able to breastfeed my son — but I did pump around the clock for 2 months until I was hospitalized for an unrelated case of pancreatitis and gallstones. For those 2 months, I struggled with milk production.

I spent my days hooked to the pump, almost non-stop. I’ve never felt more like a cow in my entire life. I ate and drank everything that I was told to by my friends — oatmeal and all the water in the world. I also had a healthier diet than ever before (or after) because I was having gallbladder attacks. As you can imagine, from this picture perfect scenario I’m painting you, I had a great fourth trimester.

“Women who are looking to increase their milk supply can go on these relentless journeys, changing their diet and what they drink, when in reality there’s a lot more involved,” said Pat Shelly, I.B.C.L.C., to HuffPost.

I did just that and nothing ever happened.

Then, my daughter was born a couple of years after. With a toddler and a newborn, I had no time to watch my diet or enough hours in the day to drink more water than usual. Yet, with her, I experienced the complete opposite, milk overload! I stopped breastfeeding when she was 8 months, and I had a stash that lasted until well after her first birthday.

Just make sure you eat healthily and drink enough water, but no need to go overboard!

11 Breastfeeding Equals Less Sleep

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This is another one I fell for — I felt so foolish when my daughter was born and I realized I used to be such a gullible first-time mom! I was told by someone, I don’t even remember who anymore, that if I gave my son a bottle of formula for his last night feeding, he would sleep more.

While, according to HuffPost, it is true that formula takes longer to digest, therefore leaving babies satisfied for more hours, that may or may not result in more hours of sleep. Also, if you factor in the time it takes to get up in the middle of night, make a bottle, warm it up and then feed the baby, it probably ends up taking longer than it does to just get the baby, take the boob out and pop it in your baby's tiny little mouth.

My formula-fed son woke up every 3 hours like clockwork. Every day for about 4 months, he woke up at midnight, 3 am and 6 am. My breastfed daughter’s sleeping patterns were a little bit more erratic, sometimes she would sleep 2 hours, sometimes 3, but a lot of times she would sleep 5-6 hours at night without waking up.

So it’s not necessarily true that breastfeeding moms sleep less!

10 Breastfeeding Is The Perfect Birth Control

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I thank God and every other higher power in the universe that I didn’t fall for this one — I have no idea what I would do with another child, let alone one that is only months younger than my kiddo. I was actually duly informed by my OB about this, and he was very clear when he said not to believe in it. I don’t even believe in the mini pill, which is the contraceptive prescribed when you’re breastfeeding — so, for a few months, I lived in a latex-only household. It was that or celibacy, I wasn’t willing to risk it.

The thing about this, is that there’s conflicting information on whether or not breastfeeding is a good source of birth control.

According to WebMD, breastfeeding prevents ovulation, and no ovulation means no baby. Pretty fool-proof, right? Wrong.

Since ovulation happens approximately 14 days before your Aunt Flow arrives, you will ovulate without even having that time come, meaning you won’t know you’ve ovulated until it might be too late. While for some moms it takes up to 14 or 15 months for their red river to come back, in my case I only made it to 6 months even while exclusively breastfeeding.

If you don’t have kiddos that are only a few months apart, I would always recommend you get the second method of birth control while breastfeeding — especially once you start introducing solids.

9 Breastfed Babies Won't Sleep Through The Night

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Here's another myth, probably courtesy of baby food or formula brands. The reality of babies is that they do what they want, and they are all different. Your newborn may start sleeping through the night at 2 weeks, or your 4-year-old may still not sleep through the night — hopefully any day now.

If I had a penny for every time I’ve read in mom and baby forums “just add some cereal to his last bottle of the day,” I would’ve retired at 22 and bought my own island. Babies younger than 5 months — or whatever age your pediatrician recommends, not your mom, your grandma, or your well-intentioned neighbor — should not be eating solids, let alone drinking combined bottles of milk and cereal.

The size of your baby, their personality, their daily activities, and routines influence way more on their sleeping patterns that do the fact that they may or may not be exclusively breastfed. Judith Lauwers, I.B.C.L.C., says that your baby will sleep through the night when they’re ready to do it. “I would never recommend loading a baby up with formula or feeding solid foods before she's ready just to get her to sleep," she said. "As long as your baby is getting enough to eat, she'll sleep for as long as she's meant to sleep."

8 Going Back To Work Means Mom Has To Wean

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This one is not even believable. Whoever came up with it clearly didn’t know that breast pumps exist. True, they might be a pain in the derriere and running out to pump every 3 hours before you start leaking from your girlfriends exploding is not the most convenient thing ever, but they exist and they help you keep breastfeeding for as long as you and babe are still comfortable doing it.

Moms should be pumping at work at least 3 times a day if your baby is less than 6 months old.

Once you introduce solids, you can drop one pump, according to Fitmom.com

Funny story. I had to go back to work when my daughter was 4 months old. My office at the time didn’t have a designated breast pumping place, but it was big and empty enough that there were a lot of little places I could go and have some privacy. One of those places was the second floor of the gym.

A little backstory on the gym, it was actually a basketball/volleyball and the second floor was nothing but a few tables and chairs. So I went there three times a day with my pump and my handsfree bra and a coverup. But little did I know that there were high school kids who actually used the facilities twice a week — I found out when their family members started crowding my space. One of them seemed to notice the super loud noise of my electric pump and even asked me if I wanted her to put a sign on the door. Awk-ward.

7 Breastfeeding Will Result In Saggy Lady Bits

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A lot of women blame breastfeeding on their saggy boobs, but that’s not the case. It’s pregnancy alone that makes them look like old wet rags. If you’ve been pregnant, the days when you could go braless and get away with it are gone, whether you breastfeed or not.

The reason why you end up with saggy boobs its nothing other than their current size. It doesn’t matter what cup you were before getting knocked up. It’s a fact of life that your gals will go from decent to humongous faster than a race car goes from 0 to 100. And due to a little thing we like to call gravity, it only makes sense that the added size will make them weight more, therefore making them more prone to the sagginess. This is pure science.

While this obviously happens, it has little to do with breastfeeding — other than the fact that you virtually have to have been pregnant in order to breastfeed. Pamela Berens, M.D., I.B.C.L.C., said that “the breast often doubles in weight during pregnancy, whether or not you breastfeed. Any increase puts extra stress on the ligaments that support the breasts, and more stress equals extra sagging."

6 Exercising Will Make Sour Milk

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If you’re a workout buff then, first of all, kudos to you. Second, and most importantly, it’s only a myth that exercising will make your breastmilk taste sour — at least when it comes to your baby. So, as long as you’ve been cleared by your OB, you can go exercise your little heart out!

The myth revolved around the higher levels of lactic acid produced when mom works out. 

However, according to FitPregnancy, your baby won’t notice the difference. What they might notice — and not really care for — is sweat!

So next time you go to the gym, make sure not only to take a selfie and post it on social media afterward — otherwise, the fat just won’t burn right — and then take a shower. Before you say “but I don’t smell, even after fast-walking for 56 minutes on 6% incline,” for your babe, BO is not necessarily the issue. What they really don’t care for is the saltiness on your skin. Even if you are a unicorn that smells like roses after an hour of cardio or CrossFit, just take a shower — and make sure you use a lot of natural soaps!

5 Feeding Often Will Result In A Lack Of Milk

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This one would make sense if babies were rational creatures who follow rules, but sadly, they are not. Your head might be telling you, as a thinking individual, that there is no possible way for your child to be satisfied if they keep crying and acting hungry every couple of hours, but that’s not the case.

Your baby doesn’t really understand all that we do about breakfast, lunch, dinner, and possibly a snack in between to keep you from eating like a troglodyte during your next meal. They just know that they feel hungry, therefore they shall cry like a banshee.

According to WebMD, breastmilk is easier to digest than formula, which means they will feel hungrier faster than their formula-fed peers. For newborns, this means eating every two to three hours. As your baby grows older, though, they can go longer periods without needing to feed. In part because their stomachs are bigger and can fit more milk per feeding, and in part, because they’ve mastered the suctioning, making them more efficient at feeding.

So, even if your baby wants to eat every couple of hours — counting from when you started the first feed, not when you finish it — rest assured that, if they are having enough wet diapers and gaining weight adequately, they are more than satisfied with your girlfriends.

4 Breastmilk Will Result In Lower Weight And A Higher IQ

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Uhm, I don’t know how to address this, but breastmilk won’t make your baby smarter or leaner. I have to give it to moms who believe this, because, in all fairness, there has been conflicting evidence on this one.

We’ve all heard how breastfed kids have fewer chances of being obese or overweight as they grow up, or how they tend to be smarter, but according to Health.com,

The benefits have been grossly overstated in recent years.

In fact, back in 2014, a study done by Ohio State University compared siblings, with one being breastfed and the other one being formula fed. They weren’t able to find a significant advantage of one over the other when it came to IQ or weight.

So stop worrying if you can’t breastfeed your newborn. You are not damaging them for life or setting them up for failure. Whether your baby is breastfed or formula fed, what you can do to help them out is read to them every single day. According to TodaysParent.com, reading aloud to your baby has major benefits, including stimulating brain development, and strengthening parent-child relationships, helping them build language, social, emotional, and literacy skills.

As for helping them avoid childhood obesity, a well-balanced diet and plenty of action should take care of that. Just remember to always follow your pediatrician’s recommendations!

3 Alcohol Consumption Equals Milk Letdown

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I don’t know if you’ve heard of this before or not, but when I was struggling with getting enough milk for my son, I heard more than once to just “have a beer,” and that it would help with my milk production. Since I don’t go around testing everything that I read on the internet — otherwise, I would've passed away by now— I didn’t try that one out, so I don’t have anything for show and tell today. What I did do was some research, and this is what I found.

According to multiple studies, beer might actually help milk production, but not due to its alcohol content. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, alcohol is not a galactagogue, therefore anything other than beer definitely wouldn’t help your letdown or milk production — put that cocktail down, Mary.

The reason why beer specifically might help is due to its' content of barley and hops, which increase the levels of prolactin, therefore helping breastmilk production. But here’s the thing, your beer doesn’t have to be an alcoholic beer. You can go ahead and fill yourself up with non-alcoholic beer if you’re having issues with letdown or milk production. On the bright side, there’s no hangover, so there’s that!

2 Breastfeeding Is Painful

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No way, Jose! A lot of your friends and family members and a few nosy coworkers might tell you otherwise, likely speaking from experience. But I have good news for you, pain while breastfeeding is nothing but a myth.

While it’s normal to feel some pain and discomfort in the beginning — after all, chances are you are not used to having a tiny mouth sucking on your girlfriends 24/7 — breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt. According to Nancy Mohrbacher, I.B.C.L.C., “we know that breastfeeding pain is common, and part of the reason why it’s common is that we’ve been teaching mothers these holds and positions for the last few decades that we’ve learned actually make it more difficult and painful.”

It's normal to feel some sort of pain and discomfort. 

Mohrbacher also said to the HuffPost that the holds taught over the years have been a result of trying to mimic bottle feeding, but holds continue to evolve in search for something that feels more natural and comfortable to both mom and baby. So even if your well-intentioned mom is trying to help you by teaching you how to hold the baby, she might not be aware of those new positions.

If you are experiencing painful breastfeeding, chances are there’s something wrong. So definitely enlist the help of your friendly neighborhood lactation consultant and learn more about how to appropriately hold your baby and get them to latch in order to minimize pain and discomfort.

1 Breastfeeding Means Eating A Bland And Boring Diet

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So, this one actually depends on your baby. While some babies are perfectly fine if you eat your favorite chicken tikka masala, others might require that you go on an organic, dairy-free, gluten-free, bland-full diet of mashed bananas and corn tortillas. What’s definitely a myth is that all babies are like that.

Babies are quite literally tiny humans, which means they are only small versions of their parents — food allergies included. So you may be the lucky recipient of a baby who is lactose intolerant or whose little tummy gets upset when you eat shellfish, peanuts, fish or soy.

Since, in a way, it’s all a gamble, the best approach to take is the “wait and see.” Don’t go changing your diet as soon as you start breastfeeding. Eat normally — but prepare to be very hungry — and see how your babe reacts. If you see him getting fussy or experiencing gas or other discomforts, then talk to your pediatrician. It might be time to look into your diet and see if there’s anything that might be causing it.

Otherwise, enjoy all the spicy food you want, add extra garlic to your dishes and stock up on that hot curry.

References: WHO.int, FitPregnancy.com, HuffingtonPost.com, WebMD.com, MilkMakers.com, Health.com, TodaysParent.com,

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