Worst Breastfeeding Advice — Ever!

Say what? Bumpies shared the most outlandish breastfeeding tips they’ve ever heard, and then we asked lactation consultant Deirdre McLary, IBCLC, RLC, CD, to explain why the advice is such bad news. Take note—this is what not to do.
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Updated March 1, 2018
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“My dad told me once, ‘You’ll know within two days whether or not breastfeeding is going to work for you.’ He told me this while I was still pregnant—needless to say, my instinct told me this was bad advice.”

Why it’s bad advice: Breastfeeding usually starts out tough and then gets easier as time goes on. “It can take several days to weeks to feel in balance with meeting the needs of your newborn,” says McLary. “Plus, your milk doesn’t come in until two to four days after the birth, so each day brings a new and different adjustment as you transition.” If you’re struggling, she suggests getting help from a pro — problems can be corrected with just a single visit to a lactation consultant.

“A pediatrician told me to let my husband give our LO baby formula at night so I could get extra sleep. Apparently he thought extra sleep would increase my low supply."

Why it’s bad advice: The exact opposite is actually true. “Replacing feedings with formula will sabotage your milk supply,” says McLary. “That’s because milk supply relies on supply and demand. If you skip a feeding because some well-intentioned loved one wanted to let you sleep, you’re sending the message to your breasts: ‘Hey, we’re done here. No milk is necessary at this hour.’” And your body, as a result, will make less milk. You don’t want that!

“A friend who’s also a nurse told me to give my baby bottles of water over the summer when it’s hot. She went on and on about how I wouldn’t want to drink milk when it was hot, so obviously baby won’t want to either."

Why it’s bad advice: It’s not a good idea to give your baby water before he’s around six months old. That’s because he could fill up on it and drink less breast milk — which has the nutrients he really needs. “Breast milk is all that your baby needs during the first six months of life,” says McLary. And as far as quenching baby’s thirst, breast milk will do that too. “It’s actually made of over 85 percent water,” says McLary, and we highly doubt he’ll turn it down when he’s hungry.

“Someone once told me to scrub my nipples with a washcloth to ‘toughen them up’ for nursing. Um, ouch!”

Why it’s bad advice: You won’t do much more than make your nipples sore. “This is a ridiculous old wives’ tale that seems to persist in some cultures,” says McLary. “It’s absolutely unnecessary. The best preparation for breastfeeding is understanding that it is a natural, normal process.” Your body is naturally prepping itself for breastfeeding. All you have to do is, well, do it.

“My mother-in-law said that my breasts were too small to give my baby enough milk and that I should give him formula.”

Why it’s bad advice: There’s actually no correlation between breast size and milk production. “Breasts come in all shapes and sizes, and unless you have glandular development issues (which is rare), your breast size will not compromise your ability to produce milk to meet your baby’s needs,” says McLary.

“My friend gave me this advice: ‘Don’t breastfeed. Breastfeeding makes your breasts saggy and gross.’”

Why it’s bad advice: Research shows that saggy boobs are more likely to result from pregnancy in general than from breastfeeding. “Pregnancy and hormones make our breasts victims of gravity,” says McLary. “Breastfeeding has little to do with it.”

“This week, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law both encouraged me to not breastfeed because it would take up too much of my time and I would end up a slave to my baby and boobs.”

Why it’s bad advice: Sure, you’ll find yourself spending a lot of time feeding your baby, but so do bottle-feeding moms. “Imagine the time you’ll spend buying formula and bottle gear, and cleaning, sorting, cooling and heating bottles,” says McLary. Plus, breast pumps make it possible to give baby breast milk while you’re away from her, so you don’t have to feel stuck if you want some “me time.”

“Drinking beer while breastfeeding will help baby sleep. Yeah, that’s gonna work….”

Why it’s bad advice: “This is a scary and dangerous concept,” says McLary. Why? Alcohol can pass into breast milk like it passes into your bloodstream. Sure, baby will only be exposed to a small percentage of alcohol if you drink, but his body will process it at a slower rate. And rather than help him sleep, it actually could cause sleep problems for baby, not to mention impair his motor development (scary!). But McLary says that having a glass of wine on a date night with your hubby is okay: “The general rule on breastfeeding is, if she can drive a car, she’s okay to feed her baby. But don’t count on it making baby sleep any longer than usual.” So if you end up enjoying a glass of chardonnay at dinner, wait at least two to three hours before nursing baby — just to be safe.

“My father-in-law believes that bottles are better than breastfeeding because you’ll know if the baby is getting enough.’”

Why it’s bad advice: Sure, if you breastfeed, you won’t have the luxury of ounce markings letting you know how much your baby is taking in, but there are ways to know she’s getting enough milk. “Make sure she’s happy, gaining weight, looking healthy and wetting between six to eight diapers in a 24-hour period — and feeding every two to three hours,” says McLary. “Then, you’re meeting her needs.” And feeding her the healthiest way possible.

Plus more from The Bump, 5 Things To Know Before You Start Breastfeeding:

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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