Ask a Lactation Expert: 5 Common Myths about Breastfeeding Debunked

August 1, 2019

Becoming a mother is a life-changing event that brings great joy and various new challenges to life. Many people will offer well-meaning advice, especially when it comes to breastfeeding. This can cause confusion and even vulnerability for a new mom.

Knowing the facts can enable us to help ease that confusion. Dispelling popular myths empowers a breastfeeding mom to have faith in her body’s amazing ability to nourish her newborn!

Myth:  Alcohol increases milk production.

Fact: Alcohol actually decreases milk production. Alcohol blocks the release of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for the letdown reflex, when the milk glands eject the milk from the nipple to the baby. Oxytocin is also incredibly beneficial, because it increases relaxation, lowers stress and anxiety, and lowers blood pressure.

Myth: Alcohol promotes infant sleep.

Fact: It is a common myth that a baby will sleep more soundly if their mom drinks beer before a feeding. In reality, infants may fall asleep sooner, but they are much more restless, decreasing their overall time asleep by 25 percent. Alcohol also affects moms – and adults in general – in a similar way, which may lead to daytime fatigue.

Myth: If you’re given contrast dye for an MRI or CT scan, you must wait 24-48 hours before you breastfeed.

Fact: Evidence actually indicates that the contrast media used for both MRI and CT scans are excreted into breast milk in such small quantities that there is no concern at all for nursing babies.

Myth: It’s unsafe to breastfeed if you’re sick, especially if it’s the flu. The baby will catch your infection.

Fact: The flu cannot be spread to infants through breast milk. This virus spreads primarily from person-to-person via respiratory droplets when someone coughs and sneezes, or if someone touches an infected surface and proceeds to touch their mouth or nose. Breast milk contains antibodies that can help protect an infant; it is the recommended source of nutrition for an infant, even when the mother is ill.

Myth: Your milk should be in by two days. In the meantime, you should supplement with a bottle, because the baby is hungry.

Fact: Supplementing with a bottle can have a negative affect on the growing milk supply. The more time spent supplementing, the less time spent stimulating milk supply. After about two to four days, your milk will “come in” and become plentiful. It’s natural to wonder if your baby is truly drinking enough milk at the breast. How do you know? If your baby nurses 8-12 times in a 24-hour period, settles contently after the feeding, and has at least two wet diapers on day two, then you are both doing well!

  • Jeanine Sweeney, Lactation Consultant at Jefferson Health in New Jersey

To learn more about Women’s & Children’s services at Jefferson Health in New Jersey, click HERE.