Bad Breastfeeding Advice, Part 1

August 15, 2007

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Every once in awhile I get on a tear about some of the dubious breastfeeding advice I see in magazines, websites, and other places. Good information is vital for breastfeeding, so it really works my nerves to see bad advice from so-called experts, some of whom are male M.D.s who don’t even have breasts, or female M.D.s who have had unsuccessful breastfeeding experiences. Hmm….

So here is part one of my series on “breastfeeding tips you can ignore”. Enjoy :)

Breastfeeding rule meant to be broken Number One: Only nurse for XXX minutes per side

Fill in the blank here. It may be 5 minutes, 10 minutes or 15 minutes, but breastfeeding mothers are often told to watch the clock instead of watching their baby. Well meaning people (like the labor and delivery nurse who told me this after my oldest was born) say this because they think that soreness has to do with how long or how often baby nurses. It doesn’t.

Soreness has to do with HOW baby nurses. It has to do with how baby is latching on, how s/he is positioned, how mom is positioned, how much nipple and areola are in the baby’s mouth, his tongue’s position, the shape of his palate and a bunch of other things. Most of the time these different factors all come together nicely and mom and baby learn how to make it all work without a hitch. Sometimes the pair needs a little help making it work. But limiting time spent at the breast is bad advice.

Why is this poor advice?

Because babies can’t tell time. A newborn may take 15 minutes to nurse on one breast, especially if he’s (and you’re) still learning the ropes. Don’t set a time limit on your newborn’s nursings. There is no such thing as “non-nutritive sucking”. Baby will always be rewarded with ounces or drops of milk for as long as he is at the breast.

In addition, the milk that baby gets at the end of the feeding, after the second letdown, is higher in fat and calories.

Limiting time at the breast may, for some babies, lead to slow weight gain, fussiness, excessive gassiness and other problems caused by a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, which is just a fancy way of saying that baby gets too much of the “skim” milk at the beginning of the feeding and not enough of the fattier “cream” at the end.

Bottom line? Don’t watch the clock.

Stay tuned for more bad breastfeeding advice. :)

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One Response to “Bad Breastfeeding Advice, Part 1”

  1. A Year Ago on Natural Moms Talk Radio | Natural Moms Talk Radio on August 5th, 2008 12:01 am

    [...] Irritation with bad breastfeeding advice [...]

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