What NOT to say to the new breastfeeding mother

When you become a mother, and especially if you choose to breastfeed; everyone you know will most likely come up with pearls of wisdom for you. Advice on how to feed your baby, dress the baby, care for the baby, etc…  However, this is YOUR baby, you get to do this YOUR way! So take everything with a grain of salt. This post is for those who may not have breastfed their own children, or maybe don’t know a lot about the art of breastfeeding and therefore may decide to give unsolicited advice to nursing mothers whether they asked for it or  not.  This may be from your own mother, grandmother, aunt, or fellow friend who never had the chance to breastfeed or tried but didn’t succeed. These women mean well, they did the best they could with the knowledge they had. However, this means that sometimes these well meaning women give advice that isn’t exactly helpful.  So without further ado…


Are you sure you have enough milk? That baby wants to eat all the time!”

Remember the breasts work by supply and demand. The more they are stimulated the more milk she will produce. The quickest way to make a mother doubt her natural ability to make milk is by questioning whether or not her breasts are even capable of doing the job. Of course the baby wants to eat all the time, that is what healthy normal newborns do! They eat 8-12 times in a 24 hour period and even more when there is a growth spurt.

“Your milk looks really thin…are you sure there is enough fat and calories in that?”

Breastmilk is supposed to look thin. Looks can be deceiving, just because it looks thin, doesn’t mean it does not have the same caloric properties needed to feed a baby adequately. Breast milk is specially designed for the baby’s body. Therefore the body quickly digests and absorbs the very important nutrients found in the milk composition which is why babies eat more frequently. This milk is specially suited for the human body.  Formula has a different protein then human milk, one that actually sits and churns in the baby’s stomach which is why sometimes formula can actually cause more gas and stomach upset. Formula is going to look different because it is different.

“I thought breast feeding was supposed to make you lose your baby weight?”

Are you kidding me? Why would anyone say this to a brand new mother? Getting back to your pre-baby body takes time. Your uterus needs time to shrink back to the pear shaped size of 2 in to 4 in. It took 9 months to get you to the pregnant state, for some women it takes 9 months to get back. Breastfeeding does burn more calories, 1500 extra to be exact. So it is true that women who breastfeed will get back to the pre-pregnant size before non breastfeeding women. However, it still will not be an over night process. Be patient, give your body a chance to recoup!

“Add cereal to the baby’s bottle it will make them sleep longer!”

The American Academy of Pediatrics now advices parents to wait to introduce solid foods until the infant is 6 months old. This is because the baby’s digestive system is not mature enough to digest and handle solid foods until this time. Cereal and other solids replaces breast milk with a less ideal food, and the last thing you want to happen is to replace the baby’s  main source of nutrition. Numerous studies have shown that giving cereal to an infant does not help babies sleep through the night and should be avoided until advised by the child’s pediatrician.

“One bottle wont hurt…baby has to get used to a bottle someday!”

Breastfeeding is a learned art that has to be mastered by both the mother and her baby. It is not recommended that you give a new baby a bottle until at least 3 weeks of age or until breastfeeding is well established. Giving a baby a bottle too soon can result in nipple confusion or bottle preference. It is a lot easier for a baby to get milk out of a bottle then it is for a baby to get milk out of a breast. It becomes a flow preference. There are different muscles used in the mouth when feeding from a bottle compared to sucking at the breast. It is completely different feel all around. Once the mother’s milk supply is established, and the baby is latching on, then it would be perfectly okay to provide a bottle. However, make sure you use the “Breastfeeding friendly way to bottle feed” method.  When providing a bottle for the first time it is best to use expressed breast milk rather then formula if available.  Studies have shown that formula can lead to allergies in babies less then 6 months of age especially in families who are prone to allergies.

“Are you really going to breastfeed in here?!?”

Where a woman chooses to breastfeed her baby is completely and entirely up to her! This is her baby and her breasts. If it  makes you uncomfortable then you may be the one who may need to go elsewhere rather then making the mother feel ashamed for doing what our breasts were intended to do, feed a baby. This is a personal choice that should be decided by the mother only, and it should be respected.

The most important thing for family members and friends to remember is that this new mother is giving her baby the best food possible. Breast milk has been proven to fight infection and be proactive in preventing disease in the child’s future. The best thing anyone can do is to support the new mother’s decision to breastfeed even if their is personal doubts about breastfeeding from an outsider. Support is the key for both the new mother and her partner. Don’t attribute every baby problem to breastfeeding, remember the new family is learning. By supporting her each step of the way, you will help make those first days with the new baby an easier transition for everyone, and she will feel more confident as the days go on.

Copyright© 2011 Danielle Gauss/ JustBreastFeeding.com. All Rights Reserved

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