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Myths About Nursing

Nursing Your BEST

When you’re pregnant or a new parent, you hear lots of stories about nursing.

Some of them may make you wonder whether nursing is right for you.

What’s true, and what’s a misconception?

Separate fact from fiction by marking the questions below true or false (31 total), then tally up your answers at the end to see how well you did!

u
1 / 31

“I didn’t nurse my babies and they turned out fine.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

As we learn new facts, we can put them to use to give our kids the best start. In the past, women who chose to use human milk substitute (formula) were told they were doing a good thing for themselves and their babies. Nowadays, we know more about the long-term and short-term benefits of nursing—and there’s no doubt that human milk provides the right nutrition for babies at every stage.

u
2 / 31

“It’s ok to continue nursing after baby is two years of age”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: True!

Young babies are completely dependent on you for all their needs. Nursing does not spoil a baby or make him too dependent on you. In fact, it actually helps him form healthy bonds! Nursing should continue as long as you and your baby both want it—to age 2 or older is fine. Children who nurse longer continue to get protective benefits from human milk, and they tend to be more secure and independent.

u
3 / 31

“Human milk substitute (formula) is as good as human milk.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

There are some things you just can’t make in a factory. Your milk is custom-made for your baby, and it changes to meet your baby’s needs through every stage of development. Your milk has antibodies, anti-viruses, and anti-allergens that help protect baby from illness. These important ingredients are not in human milk substitute (formula). Your milk also has hormones that help baby grow. Human milk is also more easily digested by baby and has more vitamins and minerals than human milk substitute (formula). Plus, human milk is free, fresh, and safe for baby to drink anytime, anywhere.

u
4 / 31

“Nursing either works or it doesn’t. You’ll know in the first day or two whether you can do it.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

Nursing a baby is learned by practice. It can take time for a nursing parent and baby to figure things out and get comfortable. Babies who are born early may not be able to nurse right away, but they need nursing parent’s human milk, too. With the right information and support, almost everyone can nurse successfully. Don’t give up!

u
5 / 31

“If your parent had trouble nursing, so will you.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

The ability to nurse does not run in families—it’s more about having the right help and support. You should be able to nurse even if your parent or sibling didn’t think they could. In fact, you can probably nurse even if you had difficulty with your last baby. Don’t listen to the naysayers!

u
6 / 31

“If nursing hurts, you should switch to human milk substitute (formula).”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

Nursing should not be painful. It’s common to have nipple tenderness at first, but this will go away as your body adjusts.

There are several reasons why nursing may hurt. For example, the baby may not be latching properly or your breasts may become overly full in the early days. A lactation support professional can help you figure out the problem and get back on track. The key is to get help quickly to keep up your milk supply and avoid introducing human milk substitute (formula).

u
7 / 31

“Small breasts (or large breasts) make it hard to nurse. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work for you.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

ALL breasts are great for nursing! Breasts of all sizes can make plenty of milk, and babies can feed successfully regardless of the size of your breasts or nipples. A lactation professional can help you find a position that works best for you and your baby.

u
8 / 31

“You can’t nurse if you’ve had surgery on your breasts.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

Usually not true! Most women who have had surgery to make their breasts larger can still nurse. Some women who have had surgery to make their breasts smaller can still nurse. Many women can even nurse after surgery for cancer. If you’ve had surgery, talk to a lactation support professional. They can give you extra help if you need it. The website BFAR is a great resource!

u
9 / 31

“You can’t nurse if you’re having twins.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

You sure can! Your body can make enough milk to feed twins or even triplets. Some nursing parents like to feed two babies at the same time. Others prefer to feed them one at a time. Different nursing parents and babies may prefer different nursing positions. It takes patience, creativity, and family support to nurse multiples, but the health benefits and bonding are worth it.

u
10 / 31

“It’s not worth it if you’re going back to work.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

Lots of working parents continue to nurse, and you can, too! Nursing early and often are keys to long-term success, since this helps you build a large milk supply so you can pump human milk once you return to work. Employers are legally required to provide nursing parents with regular breaks and a private place to pump human milk once they return to work. It takes planning, but nursing is possible and beneficial for working parents and their babies. Even if you’re not sure, give it a try. There are huge, lifelong benefits to nursing a baby during the first 4 to 6 weeks and giving human milk until the age of 1 or longer.

u
11 / 31

“Many women don’t produce enough human milk.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

Almost all women who nurse only in the early weeks, meaning no human milk substitute (formula) or other fluids, produce enough milk to satisfy a baby. Nursing works by supply and demand—the more you nurse, the more milk your body makes. It’s important that your baby gets all of her milk directly from your breasts and that she can feed as often as she needs to during her first days. Not only will your baby get off to a healthy start, your body will learn to produce enough milk to help her keep growing.

u
12 / 31

“If my baby cries, it probably means I’m not making enough milk.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

Nope! Babies cry for many different reasons. It’s normal. When your baby cries, it’s  a way of telling you that something needs to be different. Your baby may be hungry, or may need to be held, soothed, burped, or have a diaper change.

u
13 / 31

“Your milk is too thin.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

Human milk starts out very thick (colostrum, the most important milk), then gets thinner after a few days. That is normal. There is no such thing as human milk that is “too thin.”

u
14 / 31

“Babies need to learn to take a bottle.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

Not true! Your baby is better at getting milk out of your breasts than a manual or electric breast pump. To build your milk supply, it’s helpful for your baby to nurse directly from your breasts for the first 4 to 6 weeks, or until you go back to work. After that, you may want to store milk for someone else to feed the baby. Friends and family may want to give human milk so they can hold the baby, but there are many other ways they can bond during the first few weeks.

u
15 / 31

“Once the baby takes a bottle, she won’t go back to the breast.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

Some babies do have trouble going from breast to bottle and back again. Bottle nipples let the milk flow into baby’s mouth faster. Baby may not want to work harder at the breast after using a bottle. You can help by using slow-flow nipples and bottles so drinking from a bottle is more like drinking from the breast. To avoid trouble, it’s best if baby gets all milk directly from your breasts for the first 4 to 6 weeks, or until you go back to work. If you decide to use a bottle after that, let someone other than you give the bottle. That way, baby will identify you with feeding from the breast and will adjust to taking a bottle from other caregivers.

u
16 / 31

“Human milk substitute (formula) fills up babies better than human milk.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

False! Human milk substitute (formula) is harder to digest and is more likely to give your baby gas or tummy problems. Babies digest human milk more quickly and easily than human milk substitute (formula). This puts less stress on your baby’s body. It also means that your baby may be ready to eat again sooner. Eating more often does not mean the baby is not satisfied. It is normal and the way the baby’s body is supposed to work.

u
17 / 31

“Human milk substitute (formula)-fed babies are better sleepers.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

It takes longer for babies to digest human milk substitute (formula), so they may go longer between feedings and sleep for longer periods. However, breastfed babies are actually safer sleepers. The fact that they wake more often protects breastfed babies from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is one of the leading causes of death for infants younger than 1 year of age. Safer sleep is an important benefit of nursing your baby.

u
18 / 31

“Babies don’t need human milk after they start eating solid food.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

Your baby will grow well on human milk alone until he is able to digest solid foods at about 6 months. Your baby will still need mostly human milk at 6 months of age and will gradually replace human milk with solid food as infant gets older. Your human milk changes as your baby gets older. It provides the perfect nutrition at every age, even up to age 2 or older. It also protects your baby from getting sick and helps both of you stay healthier for the rest of your lives. No other food is as good for your baby as human milk. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive nursing for an infant’s first six months to achieve optimal growth, development, and health. Then, continue nursing as infant begins solid foods, for up to 2 years or longer.

u
19 / 31

“Adding some cereal to the bottle will help the baby sleep through the night.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

Don’t do it! Babies can’t digest solid foods well until about 6 months (even though it’s soft, cereal is still considered a solid). Adding cereal to a bottle does not provide any health benefits, and it does not help baby sleep through the night. Breastfed babies wake up often because human milk is easily digested and their bodies continually need nutrition to keep up with how fast they are growing. Human milk straight from the breast is baby’s best bedtime snack.

u
20 / 31

“It won’t matter if you use a bottle of human milk substitute (formula) sometimes.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

It does matter. Nursing works by supply and demand. The more you nurse, the more milk you will make. Replacing a nursing with human milk substitute (formula) will decrease your milk supply. For the first 4 to 6 weeks, or until you go back to work, all of the baby’s sucking should be at your breasts so you can build a good milk supply. After that, you can let others feed baby with the milk you have pumped.

u
21 / 31

“Partners need to feed babies so they can bond.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

Of course partners need to bond with the baby, but there are lots of ways to bond besides feeding. One of the best ways is for partner to hold the baby skin-to-skin right from the beginning. Partners can also be involved in all of the baby care, from soothing and comforting to changing and bathing the baby. You can support your partner in these activities and make sure your partner has time alone with the baby. Your partner also plays an important role in helping you nurse. Your Partner can look for early hunger signs and bring the baby to you for feeding. Your partner can make sure you have everything you need while you nurse and get the baby settled after a feeding. A partner’s job is critical. Let’s give partners a hand!

u
22 / 31

“Giving a bottle helps family members bond with the baby.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

There are lots of ways for supports to bond with baby during those first critical weeks as you nurse and establish your milk supply. Encourage your family to hold, cuddle, and play with baby between feedings. This helps baby grow, develop, and form healthy bonds, and it gives you a chance to rest.

u
23 / 31

“Nursing is rude to other people. No one else should see that.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

You should never feel ashamed for feeding a hungry baby! If you are uncomfortable nursing when others are in your home, invite them to come back after the baby finishes feeding. You may feel more comfortable having privacy while you and your baby are getting the hang of nursing. After that, you can use a lightweight blanket as a cover if you want some privacy when feeding out in the world. But you don’t have to cover up — the law says you can nurse in public anywhere you are allowed to be, including restaurants and parks.

u
24 / 31

“Nursing parents who nurse don’t get enough sleep.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

Surprise! Although nursing babies may sleep for shorter periods, research shows that nursing parents get more and better sleep. Nursing parents also report having more energy during the day and feeling less exhausted than human milk substitute (formula)-feeding parents. Nursing parents don’t spend time mixing or warming up human milk substitute (formula) because human milk is always available for baby and at the right temperature.

u
25 / 31

“Nursing is hard work. It takes too much energy.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

Being a nursing parent is hard work! Nursing saves all the work of mixing, cleaning, and transporting bottles. It lets you rest while feeding your baby and releases hormones that help you feel more peaceful and relaxed. As a bonus, nursing helps you return to your pre-pregnancy size and weight faster.

u
26 / 31

“Nursing parents have to be careful what they eat when they nurse.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

You can eat as usual while you nurse. Spicy foods are okay, and a varied diet may even help babies be less picky eaters later on because your baby tastes what you eat in your milk. Your milk will always be better for baby than human milk substitute (formula), regardless of what you eat. Of course, you should eat a nutritious and balanced diet to keep yourself strong and healthy. You may find that you are hungrier than usual. That’s to be expected since nursing burns up to an extra 600 calories a day. Learn more about eating and exercise while nursing.

u
27 / 31

“Women who smoke can’t nurse.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

While it is best to stay smoke-free while nursing, your milk is still better for baby than human milk substitute (formula), even if you do smoke. If you smoke, do so right after a feeding rather than right before. There is more risk to babies from breathing in second-hand smoke than from what is passed through human milk. Make sure no one smokes while holding your baby or while in the same room or car with your baby.

u
28 / 31

“New nursing parents are always getting sick, and that means you have to stop nursing.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

In general, you can nurse even if you get sick. Your baby will be exposed to any illness you get, but your milk will provide antibodies to fight that illness and help him stay healthy. If you switch to human milk substitute (formula) when you are sick, your baby won’t get those antibodies to protect him from getting sick!

u
29 / 31

“You can’t take medicine if you nurse.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

It’s always good to talk to your doctor before taking medicines while you’re nursing. Most medicines are safe to take while you are nursing, since only a tiny bit of medicine makes it into your milk. If the medicine you’re taking is not safe while nursing, your doctor can recommend another option.

u
30 / 31

“Your milk will go bad if you get upset or exercise too much.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

Your milk is always fresh and safe. Your emotions do not change your human milk or cause you to stop making milk. It is normal for human milk to flow more slowly if you are upset, but the milk is still good for baby. Nursing also releases hormones to help you feel calmer. Exercise is good and healthy for new nursing parents and will not cause milk to dry up or go sour. Your doctor will tell you when it’s safe to start exercising after you give birth.

u
31 / 31

“Nursing makes your breasts saggy.”

R
True
Q
False
Statement is: False!

Not true! Research shows that nursing does not cause breasts to sag. Pregnancy and aging can take a toll on breast tissue. You can help your breasts keep their shape by maintaining a healthy body weight, wearing a supportive bra when you exercise, and not smoking.

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