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Health & Baby

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7 Myths About Breastfeeding

Here's the truth behind some common myths about nursing a baby.
WebMD Feature

All a mother needs to do is mention she's breastfeeding, and instantly, everyone seems to have an opinion or a piece of advice. While you can pick up a few pointers from well-meaning friends and relatives, too often the wrong information is passed along -- sometimes through several generations.

"Although we encourage breastfeeding moms to share their experiences and support one another, some of the information is not altogether accurate. And sometimes, the wrong information can get passed from one woman to the next," says Katy Lebbing, IBCLC, manager of the breastfeeding resource organization La Leche League International.

To help you tell fact from fiction, here are seven of the most common breastfeeding myths:

Myth #1. If babies feed a lot, that means they aren't getting enough milk.

Fact: Because breast milk is so easy to digest, babies generally get hungrier sooner than if they are formula-fed. It's appropriate for your breastfeeding newborn baby to eat every two to three hours, says Lebbing.

Myth # 2. Giving the breast a nursing "rest" can help ensure more milk.

Fact: The more you nurse, the more milk you make. Breaking your regular nursing schedule to "rest" the breast actually may decrease your milk supply, says Lebbing.

This myth got started, she says, because skipping a feeding or pumping during the day results in greater supply of milk at night. But by the next day you will have less milk if you skip a feeding. "The only way to ensure a steady supply is to keep expressing milk as regularly as you can," says Lebbing. You should nurse at least nine to 10 times a day to ensure milk production.

Myth # 3. Formula fed babies sleep better.
Research indicates that babies fed on formula do not sleep better, although they may sleep longer. "Because bottle milk doesn't get digested as quickly, it may be a longer stretch between feedings so your baby may sleep longer," says Pat Sternum, RN, IBCLC, a lactation counselor at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.Â

But there's a downside. Formula remains in the baby's system longer, so it begins to ferment, she says. This results in what she calls "ultra-stinky poop!" Breastfed babies typically start sleeping longer at 4 weeks old and soon are sleeping the same amount of time as formula-fed babies.

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