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Top 5 Baby Nursing Myths Exposed

Start your baby nursing adventure on the right foot by discovering the truth behind the 5 most popular infant nursing myths. It's information like this that can make the difference between a fantastic or frustrating nursing experience.

I know, because I believed them! These common misconceptions made breastfeeding difficult for me at the beginning. Give yourself a breastfeeding boost: Read (or at least skim) these articles.

baby nursing 3
{Photo by Raphael Goetter}
They are a summary of what I wished I had known years ago! These breastfeeding articles aren't centered around "my experience". They are all structured around study I've done from medical journals, physican analysis, La Leche League research, and interviews with nursing moms just like you.

You can see a list of these sources at the bottom of this page. Of course, if you'd rather flip through some physical pages, check out my breastfeeding book reviews.

Top 5 Baby Nursing Myths

  • Myth #1: Breastfeeding Just Happens
  • Myth #2: I Don't Produce Enough Milk
  • Myth #3: Breastfeeding is to be Endured, not Enjoyed
  • Myth #4: Breastfeeding is the Same with All Babies
  • Myth #5: Not Breastfeeding Makes Me a Bad Mother

Breastfeeding Just Happens

Baby Nursing Myth #1

baby nursing 2
{by Hoover Family Photos}
This breastfeeding myth consistently pops up as one of the most prevalent in the mythologies of motherhood.

The typical picture of the serene breastfeeding mother is assume to have happened naturally, with an "Open-Bra, Attach-Mouth" simplicity.

It is vital to understand that, when looking towards your breastfeeding experience (or perhaps already struggling in it), baby nursing is a skill that must be mastered.

Even though breast feeding is a natural form of feeding your baby, it doesn't necessarily come naturally.

Now, I know there is always an exception to this rule. I'm sure there are mothers out there who (with their infant) take to breastfeeding like a fish in water. (Those are also probably the moms who left the hospital in skinny jeans and enjoyed a 20 minute delivery. You know who you are! grumble...grumble...) happy

However, for most of us, it takes practice, practice, practice and knowledge, nowledge, knowledge. The articles at the bottom of this page are intended to give you a solid understanding on what you can expect as you begin your breastfeeding journey. They will also serve you when you stumble upon the inevitable breastfeeding bump-in-the-road.

I Don't Produce Enough Milk

Baby Nursing Myth #2

The common phrase "I don't make enough breastmilk" is the #1 reason why most mothers supplement or quit breastfeeding altogether in the first 3 months. Yes, sometimes that's NOT a myth. It is possible that your body is not a milk-machine producer. However, most of the time the problem is not physical. Most of the time it is more about lack of stimulation.

I fell for this baby nursing myth hook, line, and sinker with my first infant, Lauren. Sadly, it can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Here's what happened to me in 2003:

    • Lauren seemed irritable, impatient, and unhappy on the breast (which was because of her nursing personality). I thought it meant she was not getting enough milk, so I began to supplement with a bottle of formula almost immediately (within the first 3-4 days).

    • She would drink an ounce of formula before finally settling down. This lead me to assume she was not getting enough milk during each baby nursing session, so I started supplementing every time she got frustrated at the breast.

    • The more I supplemented, the less breast stimulation I received, which caused me to produce even less milk. Because I supplemented too early, my milk was unable to reach maximum production.

Breastmilk quantity is determined by a simple equation: More Demand = More Supply. The more he is on your breast, the more your mammary glands will be stimulated to make more milk.

If your baby has a gotta-have-it-now nursing personality, (see myth #4 below) and you just can't bear 3-4 days of screaming while your milk comes in (like me), I recommend getting a supplemental nurser.

This device is simply ingenious (can you tell I'm a big fan?). It provides extra formula to your baby while he is on your breast. It's a win-win. He gets a little extra food NOW, and you get the stimulation you need to get your milk at full-capacity as soon as possible. Click here to see what a supplemental nurser looks like.

Breastfeeding is to Be Endured, Not Enjoyed

Baby Nursing Myth #3

baby nursing 5
There should be no sustained pain in the nipple, areola, or breast while your infant is feeding. There will probably be slight pain at the very beginning, as your nipple gets used to being stretched WAAAY out. This pain occurs only in the first 1-2 minutes of nursing, and will eventually fade away as your nipples form protective calluses.

If there is sustained pain, or if your nipples are cracked or bleeding (been there, done that too), your baby has not latched on correctly. She will need to be repositioned.

Nursing with bruised or cracked nipples is extremely painful. I guess there really is a silver lining with every cloud! If I hadn't gone through that awful experience, I wouldn't have these great healing tips to share with you!

If you find your breasts are tender after baby nursing, apply an ice pack or crushed ice in a towel for a few minutes. This soreness will pass as your breasts become used to their newly-found purpose.

Other times you may feel brief pain or ache are...

  • when let-down occurs
  • when the breast begins to refill with milk
  • if the breasts become engorged
These circumstances are occasional. Again, there should be no sustained pain with breastfeeding. Other than the initial discomfort of the nipple being stretched, you should not have any pain. After a few weeks, even that initial pain will disappear.

Breastfeeding is the Same with All Babies

Baby Nursing Myth #4

After Lauren (my oldest) was born, I consistently marveled at how quickly her distinctive personality shined through. (I have no idea why this was a surprise to me...after all, she is a new human being!)

This was not a kitten, puppy, or little doll. This was a person who had OPINIONS. In Lauren's case, the fact she had to wait 3-4 days for the REAL milk to come in was infuriating to her (who wants that colostrum stuff, anyway?). Again, this was an example of why the supplemental nurser was a must-have for continued successful breastfeeding.

Every baby nurses differently. (My second, Elena, is a perfect testimony of that!) Your baby nursing skills will need to be adjusted after every birth. No more comparing yourself to the Nursing Queen down the street!

Learn how to identify your infant's nursing temperament. It will help you understand, early on, why he's screaming. This will lower your frustration, which will help your milk flow faster, which will placate your Barracuda, which will make you more comfortable...and so on and so forth.

Not Breastfeeding Makes You a Bad Mother

Baby Nursing Myth #5

baby nursing 1
{Photo by}
Although there are many wonderful benefits to breastfeeding, (even a few months can have a huge impact) sometimes breastfeeding just isn't feasible or can even be harmful to your infant.

Setting up your breastmilk supply requires a large up-front time commitment. You have to be willing to be a human pacifier for the first week or so.

Some life-situations can make that level of commitment difficult, if not impossible. If you have multiple children and don't feel you can "own" all the feedings by yourself, exclusive breastfeeding may not be for you. Unless you decide to pump or supplement later on, you are the bottle and every feeding will be yours.

You may go back to work in an environment that isn't supportive of breastfeeding. Or perhaps you're dealing with cancer or some other disease that leaves you weak and fatigued. Breast feeding could wipe you out even further, hurting your ability to care for your infant in other ways.

In some health situations it is better for the mother not to breastfeed.

  • Serious infections: tuberculosis, HIV, AIDS or hepatitis in the mother
  • Serious illnesses such as kidney or heart problems in the mother
  • Certain medications taken by the mother for chronic conditions
In rare circumstances, the infant may have an allergic reaction to breastmilk, and not be able to digest it. Also, if the baby has a cleft lip or palate, getting a good latch onto the areola can be difficult. Luckily, a simple surgery can fix this problem.

The decision to breastfeed or not is your choice. Breast feeding has a learning hill that will take time to climb. In the crazy-life of the 21st Century, it may not be possible for you. Weigh the pros and cons before deciding what's best for you and your infant.

    Side Note: If you're "on the fence" in the decision whether or not to breastfeed, I'd encourage you to peek at two articles. The first, The Simple Benefits of Breastfeeding, discusses the reasons why many mothers choose to breastfeed.

    The second, Breastfeeding vs. Bottle Feeding: A Fair Analysis is just that: a fair analysis. I've done both, so I've no "agenda" to push. Both choices have pros and cons. I attempt to (humorously) share those positions so you can make your own, informed, decisions.

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A successful baby nursing experience is largely dependent on having the correct information and the right expectations. Debunking these myths is the first step in that success.

By knowing more, you will fear less. Less fear translates into more confidence. Confidence you will use to coast past those first difficult weeks and sail you into a comfortable breastfeeding routine.

Related Baby Nursing Articles in the EiR

Doing the Research

  • Breastfeeding vs Bottle Feeding: A Fair Analysis
      In the final championship game of breastfeeding vs bottle feeding, it is knowledge that will determine the winner. Are you positive you know all the rules? Can you evaluate each "team's" strengths and weaknesses fairly? Move past the general "favorites" and get a realistic view of what both sides bring to the table...
  • The Simple Benefits of Breastfeeding
      You've probably heard, vaguely, about the many benefits of breastfeeding. Transform your fuzzy cloud of good-intentions into a mountain of solid facts. Knowing the specifics will bolster your resolve to keep at it, and boost your mom-confidence meter to new heights...

Getting Started

  • How to Breastfeed: a Step-by-Step Guide
      Learning how to breastfeed is often the first challenge a new mom makes after delivery. These useful tips and easy steps on how to breast feed will help you meet that challenge head on...and win! There are a number of things you can do to help your breastfeeding experience be successful (and less painful!)...
  • Finding the Perfect Breastfeeding Position
      A good breastfeeding position is the foundation for the rest of your nursing experience. Without it, you will get sore, frustrated, and discouraged...
  • A FREE Breastfeeding Diary (PDF Download)
      This free resource helps you track your feedings and monitor your newborn's diaper output so you can properly gauge his overall health. It's super easy to use (only 2 pages) and is a must-have for feedings. (I used it myself!) Note: This is a pdf file, you'll need a PDF reader, like the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, in order to open it.
  • What Baby Nursing Personality is Your Infant? Nursing is a shared activity in which you and your infant work together for smooth feeding. Understanding your baby's breastfeeding style and personality will be tremendously helpful in helping you reach the easy rhythms of breast feeding...

Overcoming Obstacles

  • Common Breastfeeding Questions and Answers
      These most common breastfeeding questions and answers will provide you with the first step in building a good foundation for your breast feeding future. When I first began breastfeeding, questions popped into my head almost constantly
  • Breastfeeding Challenges You CAN Overcome
      There are 5 common baby nursing challenges that often confront new mothers. Luckily, you don't need to throw in the burp rag and give up! You can overcome these challenges easily...
  • Kick Up Your Breast Milk Production: Tried and True Secrets
      Many mothers worry about their breast milk production. Will I have enough milk to satisfy my infant without supplementing with formula? In most mothers, the answer is yes. In some mothers, the answer is yes...with some help. And in a few mothers, the answer is no...but a doctor can help...
  • Helpful Breastfeeding Videos
      Sometimes it's just easier to see than to read. These helpful breastfeeding videos will help fill out the picture about the ins and outs of good breast feeding technique...
  • Losing Weight While Breastfeeding: The 6 No-No's You Want to Avoid
      Guest writer Suzzane DeLeon writes about some of the most common techniques women use to lose weight, and why you DON'T want to do them while baby nursing.
  • Still Struggling? Talk to a Mentor Mom
      Asking for and receiving infant advice is a normal part of the mothering adventure. Here at The Essential Infant Resource, (EiR) we work hard to remind each other that motherhood is an organic and growing journey. We walk the mothering path a little more every day. Always further along than yesterday...

Nursing Essentials: Reviews for You

  • The Best Breastfeeding Bras: Which is Your Perfect Fit? Other Moms Size Them Up
      The world of breastfeeding bras can be overwhelming. There are just so many choices and options out there. It's just too easy to spend a tushie-load of money on bras that look better on the model than they feel on you. And since you're going to be living, 24-7, in these bras, it's important to find the best nursing bra for you...
  • Breastfeeding Books Worth Reading
      Here are some valuable resources for breastfeeding. Surprisingly, breastfeeding can be difficult to master. It's a skill that is learned and practiced. These books are a good start to any breastfeeding library...
  • Breast Feeding Help: Essentials for Nursing Success
      There are two categories of nursing moms: those who had no problems whatsoever, and those who need a little breast feeding help. Both categories can have successful nursing experiences...
  • The Search for the Ultimate Nursing Cover
      Choosing a high-quality nursing cover is an important breastfeeding purchase. Personally, I prefer not to be oogled at the mall while my baby is sucking happily away. There's only one person I'd like looking at my breasts, and that person is the reason I have my infant in the first place!

Research Sources

    Complete Book of Pregnancy, and Baby's First Year, Mayo Clinic.

    Complete Book of Baby and Child Care, Focus on the Family

    Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, The American Academy of Pediatrics

    An Easy Guide to Breastfeeding, US Department of Health and Human Services

    "Is Your Baby Getting Enough Breastmilk?" by Jan Barger and Marsha Walker

    Beyond Birth, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare

    Breastfeeding: A Guide to Nourishing Your Baby, The StayWell Company

    A Woman's Guide to Breastfeeding, The American Academy of Pediatrics

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Photos used on this page were found at and were used with permission and according to guidelines.


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