If you're a mother who has breastfed, chances are that at some point you've received breastfeeding advice, solicited or not. Maybe it the bad kind - inconsistent, ill-informed, or just plain weird. Maybe it was good advice - the kind that solves a problem or gives you peace of mind.
Below you'll find my lists of good and bad breastfeeding advice. I have to admit that I collect bad breastfeeding advice like some people collect shoes.
If you're pregnant and learning about breastfeeding, don't despair. Below you'll find some good advice that could apply to almost any situation, as well as some links to good resources.
First, some good advice:
The best breastfeeding advice I can share is general in nature. Much of it comes from mothers like you who have participated in our nursing tips contests and in Motherwear catalogs. On this blog you'll find some of this great advice on overcoming challenges and on pumping, and more will be coming soon. Here are some of my favorites:
- "Get help early."
- "Never apologize for advocating for your baby."
- "If it hurts, get help."
- "If your baby isn't gaining enough weight, get help."
- "Make sure that your doctor is supportive of breastfeeding."
- "Trust your instincts."
- "Take it day by day, feeding by feeding."
- "Remember that neither of you has done this before."
- "If the person helping you with breastfeeding (lactation consultant, nurse, doctor) isn't really helping, get someone else to help."
- "Try to have some faith in your body."
- "Take a breastfeeding class before your baby comes."
- "To get off to a good start, hold your baby skin-to-skin as much as possible."
- "The most important thing to master before you leave the hospital is a good latch."
- "Know where to get breastfeeding help before your baby comes."
- "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
- "Make sure that the person helping you with breastfeeding is really listening to you."
And now to the bad advice:
Now, I should say that some bad breastfeeding advice is just misplaced good advice. It's like that saying, "weeds are just plants in the wrong place." But lots of advice I've heard is just plain wrong.
Below are my entries into the "Bad Breastfeeding Advice Hall of Shame." I'm sorry to report that most of these statements came from health care professionals. Nearly all of these were told to me by mothers.
- "It's supposed to hurt."
- "After the first year your milk isn't any good."
- "Breastfeeding hurts because you're light skinned."
- "Since you're having trouble getting the baby to latch on comfortably, why don't you pump for two weeks and then try again?"
- "There's no such thing as nipple confusion."
- "To get your (3 month old) baby to sleep longer, add cereal to his breastmilk."
- "Your milk must not be fatty enough to keep your baby growing."
- "You should rub a washcloth over your nipples to toughen them up before the baby comes."
- "Since your baby is jaundiced you'll need to stop breastfeeding."
- Told to a mother who had mastitis: "You need to rest your breasts (not nurse) for a few days."
- "Your milk ducts are high up on your breasts, so it will take a while for your milk to come in."
- "X medication isn't okay to take during breastfeeding. You'll need to wean in order to take it." See Angela's post about her experience with such advice.
- "Glucose water will keep your baby from getting jaundiced."
- "You're having general anesthesia for your operation, so you'll need to pump and dump for four hours after the procedure."
- "Tongue ties don't interfere with breastfeeding."
- "After the first year, breastfeeding is really just about what the mother wants, not what the baby wants."
- "Don't let your baby fall asleep at the breast."
- "Breastmilk is an A+, but formula is an A."
- "When your baby is born, give her a pacifier so that you can get some sleep."
- "Green poops? Your baby must be allergic to your milk."
- "Your baby has tooth decay because you're still breastfeeding him."
- "Your colostrum has 'run out.'"
- "Let's pump to see how much milk you're making."
- "If you're breastfeeding you shouldn't exercise because the milk will taste bad."
- "A good feeding is when the baby has nursed for 10 minutes on each side."
- "Breastfeeding? You can't eat chocolate."
- "You have to drink a lot in order to make milk."
- And my all time favorite: "Sore nipples? Put cherry Chapstick on them."
So, how can you increase your chances that you'll get good breastfeeding advice? Here are a few helpful links:
- A list of ways to know if your doctor is supportive of breastfeeding.
- An online database on medications and breastfeeding (LactMed), and the book all doctors should have, Medications and Mother's Milk.
- How to know when to call a lactation consultant.
- My favorite breastfeeding reference books, "The Nursing Mother's Companion," and "The Ultimate Book of Breastfeeding Answers."
- A directory of lactation consultants by zip code, and La Leche League leaders by town.
Finally, here are links to the other great bloggers who contributed to the carnival this month:
- Breastfeeding 1-2-3: "How to get good medical advice on breastfeeding."
- Black Breastfeeding Blog: "The best breastfeeding advice I ever got."
- The Baby Gravy Train: "Best breastfeeding advice."
- Mocha Milk: "Welcome to the March Carnival of Breastfeeding!"
- Breastfeeding Mums: "Good Advice/Bad Advice."
- Cairo Mama: "Good Advice: This is Not a Test."
- The Twinkies: "If only I had known."
- Mama Knows Breast: "Breastfeeding Advice"
- The Lactivist: "Exclusively pumping: Good advice is hard to find."