Claim: many women do not produce enough milk

Reality: Not true!

The vast majority of women produce more than enough milk. Indeed, an overabundance of milk is common. Most babies that gain too slowly, or lose weight, do so not because the mother does not have enough milk, but because the baby does not get the milk that the mother has.

The usual reason that the baby does not get the milk that is available is that he is poorly latched onto the breast. This is why it is so important that the mother be shown, on the first day, how to latch a baby on properly, by someone who knows what they are doing.

Claim: it is normal for breastfeeding to hurt

Reality: Not true!

Though some tenderness during the first few days is relatively common, this should be a temporary situation which lasts only a few days and should never be so bad that the mother dreads nursing. Any pain that is more than mild is abnormal and is almost always due to the baby latching on poorly. Any nipple pain that is not getting better by day 3 or 4 or lasts beyond 5 or 6 days should not be ignored. A new onset of pain when things have been going well for a while may be due to a yeast infection of the nipples. Limiting feeding time does not prevent soreness.

Claim: there is not enough milk during the first three or four days after birth

Reality: Not true!

It often seems like that because the baby is not latched on properly and therefore is unable to get the milk. Once the mother's milk is abundant, a baby can latch on poorly and still may get plenty of milk. However, during the first few days, the baby who is latched on poorly cannot get milk. This accounts for "but he's been on the breast for two hours and is still hungry when I take him off".

By not latching on well, the baby is unable to get the mother's first milk, called colostrum. Anyone who suggests you pump your milk to know how much colostrum there is, does not understand breastfeeding and you should seek help from a Breastfeeding specialist.

Claim: a breastfeeding baby needs extra water in hot weather

Reality: Not true!

Breastmilk contains all the water a baby needs.

Claim: a mother should wash her nipples each time before feeding the baby

Reality: Not true!

Breastmilk protects the baby against infection and therefore washing the nipples before each feed is unnecessary.

Formula feeding requires careful attention to cleanliness because formula not only does not protect the baby against infection, but also is actually a good breeding ground for bacteria and can also be easily contaminated.

Claim: it is easier to bottle feed than to breastfeed

Reality: Not true!

Breastfeeding can be made difficult if women do not receive the help they should to get started properly.

A poor start can indeed make breastfeeding difficult. But a poor start can also be overcome. With support and advice (e.g. by attending one of the Support Groups) breastfeeding can be a beautiful, rewarding and fulfilling experience and asking for support is not a sign of weakness.

Claim: breastfeeding ties the mother down

Reality: Not true!

A baby can be nursed anywhere, anytime, and thus breastfeeding is liberating for the mother. Breastmilk is always at the right temperature; there is no need to carry around bottles or formula or worry about how much to take with you.

Claim: modern formulas are almost the same as breastmilk

Reality: Not true!

Your breastmilk is made as required to suit your baby.

The same claim was made in 1900 and before. Modern formulas are only superficially similar to breastmilk. Every correction of a deficiency in formulas is advertised as an advance.  Formulas contain no antibodies, no living cells, no enzymes, and no hormones. They contain much more aluminum, manganese, cadmium and iron than breastmilk. They contain significantly more protein than breastmilk. The proteins and fats are fundamentally different from those in breastmilk. Formulas do not vary from the beginning of the feed to the end of the feed, or from day 1 to day 7 to day 30, or from woman to woman, or from baby to baby.

Claim: if the mother has an infection she should stop breastfeeding

Reality: Not true!

With very, very few exceptions, the mother’s continuing to breastfeed will protect the baby. By the time the mother has fever (or cough, vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, etc) she has already given the baby the infection, since she has been infectious for several days before she even knew she was sick. The baby's best protection against getting the infection is for the mother to continue breastfeeding. If the baby does get sick, he will be less sick if the mother continues breastfeeding. Besides, maybe it was the baby who gave the infection to the mother, but the baby did not show signs of illness because he was breastfeeding. Also, breast infections, including breast abscess, though painful, are not reasons to stop breastfeeding. Indeed, the infection is likely to settle more quickly if the mother continues breastfeeding on the affected side.

If you have any concerns please contact your GP / Midwife or Health Visitor for further advice.

Claim: if the baby has diarrhoea or vomiting, the mother should stop breastfeeding

Reality: Not true!

The best medicine for a baby's gut infection is breastfeeding, so to continue to breastfeed. Breastmilk is the only fluid your baby requires when he has diarrhoea and/or vomiting, except under exceptional circumstances.  The baby is comforted by the breastfeeding, and the mother is comforted by the baby's breastfeeding. If you have any concerns with your Baby's health during an illness you must seek medical advice.

You should always seek medical advice or contact/visit your local pharmacy for further advice on safety of medicines and breastmilk.

Get in Contact

Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Trust Headquarters, St. George's Hospital, Corporation Street, Stafford ST16 3SR

E-mail: enquiries@mpft.nhs.uk 

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0300 790 7000
(staffed 24 hours a day, every day)

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