Putting Breastfeeding Rumors to Rest

Expectant mothers have come to me with concerns about rumors they have heard about breastfeeding that might discourage them from this practice.  Well let me try to keep you abreast of the truths about breastfeeding so the rumors can be extinguished.

For example, some women are worried that the size of their breast will correspond with the amount of milk produced, and that is just not true.  Milk production is dependent on mothers drinking lots of fluids, getting adequate rest and relaxation, having lots of physical contact with their babies, and most importantly frequent nipple contact with baby to stimulate milk production.

Women are also worried that breastfeeding takes more time than bottle feeding.  Again this is not true.  It is much easier to pick up your child and offer the breast, than to get up in the middle of the night, go to the kitchen, open a can of formula, mix it up, put it in a bottle, warm the bottle then feed your child.

Still other women are afraid the experience will be painful.  This is usually only due to incorrect positioning or latch-on techniques that can be easily remedied with some teaching from the nurses when the baby is born, or from your baby’s doctor or the nurses in that doctor’s office, or from a lactation consultant if one is available in your community. 

Some moms are worried that the medications they are taking could mean they should stop breastfeeding.  The good news is that most medications are safe for breastfeeding, but again your baby’s doctor can tell you if you are taking one of the few that will not be safe. 

Finally, there are women who believe that breast feeding will increase their weight, but the situation is just the opposite.  Breastfeeding uses an extra 300-500 calories every day, so you may actually lose weight when you breastfeed– but hopefully not an excessive amount, which could then decrease your milk supply.     

Hopefully tips like this will feed you the information you need to strongly consider breastfeeding your new baby not just at birth, but throughout their first year of life.

Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. You can also catch "First with Kids" weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives at http://www.FletcherAllen.org/firstwithkids