30 Breastfeeding Myths: Fact vs. Fiction
You will get a lot of advice when you first nurse your baby, but it will be less helpful than you think. Different sources will give you different information. It is true that there are many myths about nursing, and it can be difficult to separate the facts from them.
We are here to help. Here are some of the most common breastfeeding or chestfeeding myths, debunked and backed up with facts, studies, and evidence.
1. It always hurts at the beginning
When a birthing parent is figuring out how to hold their baby, they experience nipple pain. The baby should not hurt if it is well latched on the breast. It is normal for there to be some tugging when your baby first starts to cry.
2. Your baby will automatically know what to do
Babies are born with reflexes that help them with feeding, like the rooting reflex, the sucking reflex, and the stepping reflex (this helps your baby crawl to the breast!), according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
“That doesn’t mean that your baby will be able to make decisions. You and your baby are learning.”
3. You’ll bond right away with your baby
Nursing requires you to hold your baby close on a regular basis. It also releases “feel good” hormones like prolactin and oxytocin that help you bond with your baby, per a
But that doesn’t guarantee that all nursing parents will automatically feel bonded to their babies. Falling in love with your baby is a process, and it’s OK if it takes you a little extra time.
4. You have to wean if you become pregnant while nursing
The term “wean” refers to the process of getting your baby used to food other than breast milk. Many parents choose to wean if they become pregnant while nursing (and that’s OK!). Continuing to nurse during pregnancy is a valid choice as well.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) says that nursing during pregnancy is common, and as long as the pregnancy is typical and low risk, there is no reason to wean. Many people continue to nurse throughout pregnancy, and some choose to tandem nurse (nurse both babies together) after the new baby arrives.
5. You have to have a perfect diet to nurse
“You don’t have to change your diet while you are breastfeeding. You will make milk for your baby no matter what you eat.”
You will need
6. It’s common not to have enough milk for your baby
Milk supply issues are real, and some nursing parents have medical, hormonal, or anatomical concerns that make producing a full milk supply difficult.
Most birthing parents are able to produce enough milk for their babies if they nurse frequently and make sure their babies are well latched onto the breast.
7. You should expect to have trouble nursing
You may have heard what feels like a million stories of new parents who had trouble breastfeeding, and that does happen. But there are just as many parents who have little trouble or are able to overcome any challenges with a few tweaks. You don’t have to go into nursing assuming the worst.
8. You can’t get pregnant if you’re breastfeeding or chestfeeding
If you are exclusively nursing on demand (including at night), you haven’t had a period yet, and your baby is under 6 months, it’s unlikely that you are fertile, per
9. Your baby is using you as a pacifier if they want to breastfeed frequently
While some babies are OK with spacing out their feedings every 3 hours or so, many need to nurse more frequently than that, according to
Not only that, but nursing isn’t just about nutrition: it’s typical for your baby to come to you for comfort as well as food, which is also a real and valid need.
10. You should wean once your baby starts solids
Most babies start solids sometime in the middle of their first year of life. But breast milk (or formula) should remain their main food staple for at least the first 12 months,
The feeding parent can decide if nursing continues after 12 months. Babies get important nutrition and immune protection from breast milk as long as they continue to nurse.
11. You will end up with sagging breasts after breastfeeding or chestfeeding
Anyone who goes through pregnancy will notice breast changes. That, plus the natural effects of aging and weight gain are what cause sagging breasts, not nursing itself.
12. Breastfeeding helps you lose weight
Nursing is often touted as a perfect way to lose your pregnancy weight. The truth is that some people lose weight while nursing, according to
Nursing requires extra calories, and some parents even find that they gain weight. The best thing to do while nursing is to focus on good nutrition and not the number on the scale.
13. Your partner will have no role or no way to help if you breastfeed or chestfeed
“Many people think that nursing means their partner won’t do anything. That is not true. You are the one making and delivering milk, but your partner will have a lot to do.”
They can bring you your baby for feedings, deliver all your snacks and drinks, burp the baby, change their diaper, sleep with them, soothe them when they are cranky, and so on and so forth.
14. If you can’t pump much milk, you must not have enough milk
Everyone reacts to pumping differently, and not everyone can “let down” as easily for the pump as they do while nursing. So how many ounces you pump isn’t always a good measure of how much milk you are able to produce for your baby. If your baby is growing and thriving on your milk, you have enough milk.
15. If your baby wants to nurse frequently, you don’t have enough milk or your milk isn’t fatty or filling enough
Some people assume that if their baby is “hungry all the time,” they don’t have enough milk. Again, some babies just nurse more frequently than others, according to
Babies also nurse more frequently during a growth spurt or during a developmental leap. Your best gauge for whether you are making enough milk is to look at your baby. If they are peeing, growing, and meeting milestones, you are doing great.
16. You should wait longer between feedings so your breasts “fill up”
There is always more milk in your breasts, and your breasts are never fully “empty,” so it doesn’t make sense to wait until you are full to nurse. Not only that, leaving your breasts full between feedings sends the signal to your body to slow down milk production,
Feeding your baby888-607-3166 is the ideal way to time your feedings. This means nursing them when they are hungry.
17. There are no benefits to breast milk after the first few months
The AAP recommends that babies be exclusively nursed for the first 6 months, then continue to be nursed until at least 12 months, even after solid foods are introduced. The
Experts recommend extended breastfeeding because breast milk continues to have vital nutritional and immunological benefits for babies, long after the first few months of life.
18. You don’t have any milk during the first few days after giving birth
“Your breasts don’t start filling up until a few days after your baby is born, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any milk at first”
Your body starts producing colostrum, your baby’s first milk, in the middle of pregnancy, and it’s available for your baby right after birth. Colostrum is the perfect first food for your baby, according to experts, and is full of antibodies and immunities to protect your little one.
19. You can’t take any medication while breastfeeding or chestfeeding
With a few exceptions, most medications are safe to take while nursing, per
It’s best to consult your healthcare professional before taking a medication. You can also consult
20. You’ll spoil your baby if you nurse them too much
Babies are designed to nurse frequently (every
21. Breastfed babies don’t get sick
Nursed babies do get sick if they are exposed to viruses and other infections. That doesn’t mean that breast milk isn’t protective, though.
Breast milk decreases the risk of common childhood ailments like ear infections and stomach viruses. That’s because it isn’t just food. It also has immunological factors that protect babies from getting very sick, even if they do get exposed to a virus or infection.
22. Breastfeeding makes your baby smarter
Breast milk is a great source of nutrition and is known to protect your baby from conditions and diseases like asthma, diabetes, and obesity, even after they are done nursing, according to the
However, the link between breastfeeding and intelligence is not as clear-cut. Some studies, such as this one published in 2022, have found finding no statistically significant link between nursing and increased intelligence.
23. You should stop breastfeeding when you are sick
Nursing parents often think they need to stop nursing when they are not feeling well in order to protect their babies. But, actually, breast milk is super important for babies if they’ve been exposed to a virus. This is because breast milk contains antibodies that help fight infections, according to
If you nurse while you are sick, your baby will be less likely to catch a disease.
24. If your baby cries after nursing, they are still hungry or you don’t have enough milk
Babies cry and fuss for many reasons, and it’s not always because they are hungry. If your baby is fussy after nursing, they may need to be burped, they may need a diaper change, or they may be overstimulated.
“If your baby is growing and feeding frequently, don’t assume that they are fussing because they are hungry or you aren’t producing enough milk.”
25. You need to wean once your baby gets teeth
Parents think nursing will become painful when their baby gets teeth. If your baby is actively holding down on your breast, this is the case.
During nursing, your nipple doesn’t make contact with their top teeth, and their bottom teeth are covered by their tongue. Many babies with teeth or who are teething do not bite while feeding,
26. You need to wean once you go back to work
While nursing can become more challenging once you go back to work, many nursing parents find ways to make it work. You will need to pump when you aren’t with your baby.
Yet you can reduce how much you need to pump at work by ensuring that you nurse right before you leave for work, right when you get home, and frequently during the times that you are with your baby. Most parents are able to settle into a nursing and pumping routine that works for them.
27. Breastfeeding is free
Buying formula and bottles can add up, but it is not a myth that nursing is free. Most parents need to purchase pumps and bottles, so that is an expense off the bat. Costs can add up with nipple creams, nursing tops and bras. It costs time when a nursing parent spends hours on nursing.
28. You can’t breastfeed with small breasts, large breasts, inverted nipples, flat nipples…
Small breasts can make as much milk as larger breasts. Nursing with very large breasts and flat or inverted nipples can sometimes create extra challenges, but not everyone has issues. Moreover, certain techniques can make these concerns more manageable.
29. You can’t drink coffee or alcohol while breastfeeding or chestfeeding
While you don’t want to go overboard on caffeinated beverages while nursing, experts suggest that drinking the equivalent of
“You can reduce the risk by not breastfeeding or feeding your baby for 2 hours after consuming a drink. You don’t need to dump alcohol after drinking it.”
30. You’ve failed if you supplement with formula while nursing
“Nursing isn’t all. Many nursing parents need to supplement with formula because they are experiencing low milk supply, they aren’t able to pump enough milk while they are separated from their baby, or they just want or need to stop nursing.”
The important thing to remember is that if you supplement with formula, you are not a failure in any way. Any amount of breast milk is healthy for your baby, and you are doing an amazing job. Stop nursing when it’s right for you and your baby.
Learning to separate fact from fiction is important. You may encounter challenges even when you have evidence-based information about nursing.
It makes sense to seek help in certain circumstances.
- “If you are having breast or nipple pain, you can’t just put your baby down or empty your breasts.”
- if you aren’t sure whether your baby is getting enough milk, or if your baby continues to lose weight after the first week or two after birth
- “If your baby is very picky about food, is not easy to soothe, or is uncomfortable, you may have questions about your baby’s health or feeding behavior.”
There are many professionals who can help you if you have nursing issues. Here are some ideas.
- “Discuss your concerns with the baby’s doctor, who can refer you to a nursing helpers if needed.”
- Find a board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) for help. The International Lactation Consultant Association is a good place to start and has a searchable online database of lactation consultants
- Seek free help from your local WIC office, if eligible, or find a volunteer breastfeeding counselor through an organization like La Leche League.
Sometimes it can be difficult to separate truth from fiction when it comes to breastfeeding or chestfeeding myths.
It is a good idea to make sure that any nursing information you consume is backed up by reliable sources, including health organizations like the CDC.
If you have questions about nursing facts or general information, you can reach out to your doctor or a lactation consultant.