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There’s nothing like unsolicited advice. Moms get a lot of it.
It usually starts the minute people find out that you are pregnant and continues for the rest of your parenting days. My three kids are all adults and I still get unasked for advice on how to parent.
While I believe most people mean well, bad breastfeeding advice has the potential to really derail a mom’s breastfeeding experience.
I asked moms what was the worst breastfeeding advice they got. This is what they told me.
THE WORST BREASTFEEDING ADVICE
TONGUE TIE AND BREASTFEEDING
Several moms whose babies were tongue tied got bad breastfeeding advice.
“Breastfeeding is supposed to hurt at first.” That’s what Justina Murphy of The Well Planned Mama and mother of three was told.
“Because of this I thought it was normal that it took my breath away every time he latched. It wasn’t until two weeks when his tongue tie was identified and revised I realized nursing isn’t supposed to be painful.”
“Additionally it was perpetuated by multiple moms around me that nursing was and should be easy. So when it wasn”t easy for me the first go around it was emotionally hard to not feel like a failure.”
“I am currently nursing baby 3 and have nursed the last two 20 months and 3 years.”
However, since everyone has a different level of pain tolerance I recommend any pain be evaluated by a lactation consultant.
Fit Mommy Strong‘s Karrissa Whitman’s baby had an undiagnosed tongue-tie. She was told by her insurance plan’s lactation consultants to “just keep practicing” or “keep trying.”
“As much as their intent was good there was not much hands on help for almost 12 weeks.”
” Then I sought out advice from an outside IBCLC who instantly found our son had a lip & tongue tie that was preventing him from latching to me or a bottle. After we got them fixed, it was night & day difference! It was so frustrating to think I almost gave up and quit because I was being given poor advice. I’m so glad I trusted my gut and sought out help from a different source before quitting. We successfully breastfeed & pumped for 16 months after all that!”
I’m so glad Karissa got another opinion. If things are not getting better it is always worth checking with another lactation consultant. And moms should always trust their instincts if something doesn’t seem right.
Jen Slezia (Journals to Freedom) was told that tongue-ties were “just a fad and an excuse.”
“Despite being told repeatedly in the hospital that my daughter’s latch looked great, it was so painful. By the time we got home from the hospital, my nipples were so cracked and bleeding so bad that even the thought of latching her gave me toe-curling pain. To keep a long story short here, I, unfortunately, did not meet my breastfeeding goals with my daughter. I stopped trying to nurse/pump at two weeks postpartum.”
“However, this experience with my daughter lit a fire under me when we learned we were expecting baby #2. This time I took it upon myself to learn more about tongue and lip ties, what that meant for a breastfed baby and what to do about them. After my son was born, it quickly became apparent that he had tongue and lip ties as well. I suspected it right away, not because of pain this time, but because he was not able to stay latched onto my breast at all! Thankfully, we had prepared ourselves with knowledge but also a support team who was experienced and knowledgeable in tongue and lip ties.”
“I exclusively pumped and pinky/syringe fed my son his breast milk until we had his ties released via laser at one week old. We worked with an IBCLC knowledgeable in tongue ties, made sure to do the after revision stretches and suck training.”
“Nursing my son was HARD in the beginning. We had to overcome a lot of challenges. It was my goal to breastfeed my son and that meant finding out how to work through problems that came up.”
“My son is 2 years old and he is still breastfed!
Nursing is simply what we do. It’s become a way of life. Nursing is how I comfort my son and reconnect with him. I am so grateful for our breastfeeding journey!”
MOM DOESN’T ALWAYS KNOW BEST
Rigel Celeste (Holes in Your Socks) said the worst breastfeeding advice she got was from her mom. “She told me that it was okay to quit. Now of course it is 100% okay to quit, if that’s what you want. I didn’t though — I really wanted to make it work but was feeling frustrated with latching issues and HORRIBLE nipple pain and needed support to keep going (and ideas to try that might help!).”
“That moment of basically hearing “just give up” was the hardest thing — I cried it out and then pushed through anyway. I ended up successfully breastfeeding until I decided to quit, on my and baby’s terms, at 1 year.”
BAD ADVICE FOR PREPARING TO BREASTFEED
The Postpartum Party’s Amy Motroni got some really outdated advice. when
“When I was pregnant one of my friends told me to start toughening up my nipples by scrubbing them with a hard loofah each day. She said it would help build up my tolerance to the pain that comes with breastfeeding! OUCH! It scared me a little bit, but luckily I ignored her advice, knowing that if breastfeeding was going to be painful, i’d rather have a baby causing the pain rather than a shower loofah!
BAD BREASTFEEDING ADVICE ABOUT FEEDING FREQUENCY
Keyona Grant from Professional Momma shares, “I’m the first person in my family to breastfeed for quite some time. My mom and grandmother didn’t understand that it’s normal for a breastfed newborn to eat every two hours.”
“They felt my baby wasn’t getting enough milk. Their remedy was for me to pump my milk and then add baby cereal to the bottle. And to top it off, they had attitudes with me when I wouldn’t do it.”
“My baby was definitely getting enough milk and having the appropriate wet and poopy diapers.”
BAD BREASTFEEDING ADVICE CAN RESULT IN AN EXHAUSTED MAMA
Ali Van Straten (Champagne and Coffee Stains) said the worst breastfeeding advice that she received was to pump “After every single feeding to help increase my supply.”
Pumping after feeding is a common way to try to increase milk production. But it is also very time-consuming. “It ended up making me crazy and led to me quitting breastfeeding at 3 months.”
When I recommend that a mom pump after feedings I tell her that although pumping after every feeding is going to be most effective, balance in her life is also very important. If it is making her feel crazy we need to come up with a different plan.
THE MISTAKEN PROMISE OF THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS IS BAD ADVICE
Stacey Stewart, CLE (Certified Lactation Educator) from Milkology
“The worst breastfeeding advice I ever got was when a coworker (who knew breastfeeding was going well for my daughter Sam and I) said I should give her formula so that we would have “the best of both worlds” and so I wouldn’t have to pump at work anymore.”
“I never took her advice and continued breastfeeding until Sam was 2.5 years old. It made me realize that no matter HOW you end up feeding your baby (even if you exclusively breastfeed!), people will always have opinions on how it “should” be done.”
BAD BREASTFEEDING ADVICE FOR A BABY WHO IS NOT SUCKING PROPERLY
Renecia Lea Broodryk believes it was not good advice to never use a pacifier (aka dummy) or bottles.
” I was told not to use a dummy or bottle as it causes nipple confusion. I cried every single time my oldest was hungry. My nipples were on fire and no matter what I did she didn’t latch properly. I followed articles, youtube videos, I even had a lactation consultant try to help. Nothing worked. Because she couldn’t latch properly, it caused her to suck harder which was torture. By 4 months I decided that I’d had enough. From the very first time I have her the bottle and dummy, her latch was improved.”
Some babies have problems sucking properly. In those cases using a pacifier to help with suck training can be helpful. A speech or occupational therapist can help with this.
The therapists I worked with liked the Soothie Pacifier best for suck training. I like this version because it has a little notch for baby’s nose.
BAD BREASTFEEDING ADVICE FROM A DOCTOR
Sheree Reese (Darling Steps) was told by her doctor, “You need to put your baby on a timed feeding schedule. She’s grown too much. You’re feeding her too much.”
“That is advice came from a doctor, during the first one week postbirth appointment with my firstborn baby.”
“He stated that at 7 days old she had gained too much weight. I was exclusively breastfeeding and following the advice that I’d received from the lactation consultants at the same hospital – to feed on demand…whenever baby was hungry. Considering this was my first child and I didn’t know any better, I followed his advice.”
“This was very detrimental to our breastfeeding journey. It made my first breastfeeding experience absolutely horrendous.”
“My baby was always crying. I didn’t know why or realize it was hunger at the time. It sent me straight into a depression that lead me to bottle feed my infant because I was no longer producing enough milk.”
“I sought out help from several lactation consultants who assured me that his advice was not correct. Everyone worked at the same hospital and therefore apologized for the inconsistencies. They went on to say that despite doctors having a medical degree they aren’t always informed about lactation care.”
“Together, we tried to revive my milk flow and although it was successful, it wasn’t enough to fill my baby’s demand. And after 3 months I resorted to bottle feeding.”
Unfortunately, advice from a doctor like that is far too common. Doctors get very little education about breastfeeding in medical school.
CRAZY BREASTFEEDING ADVICE THAT LEFT ME SHAKING MY HEAD
Breanna Park (Messy Buns and Mom Jeans) was told some really crazy advice.
“My worst breastfeeding advice was that for some reason breastfeeding mothers are not allowed to eat red meat. I like my steaks pretty rare and I had someone get quite mad at me over it! I had to do research just to show then that that isn’t found anywhere.”
What about you, mama? If you got some crazy breastfeeding advice leave a comment.
Andrea Tran RN, MA, IBCLC
Andrea has been working with new families as an RN for over 35 years and a Lactation Consultant for over 25 years.
She has her MA in Health and Wellness with a focus in Lactation.