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Common breastfeeding myths

It’s not that popular in this country

Over 60% of women in Ireland choose to breastfeed their babies. This number is lower than in other European countries but still represents over half.

Your baby will not get enough

Almost all women are able to produce enough breast milk. The size and shape of your breasts or nipples does not matter.

When your baby is born, you may feel at first that you're not producing a lot of milk. This is because your first milk or 'colostrum' is produced in a small amount which is perfect for your newborn's tummy.

Early and frequent feeding along with continued skin-to-skin contact is the best way to establish your supply.

Establishing your supply means that the amount of breast milk you produce matches exactly what your baby needs. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand system. The more you breastfeed, the more milk your body produces.

Concern about breast milk supply

Weight gain in breastfed babies

Your partner will feel left out

There are still lots of ways partners can bond with your baby and plenty of ways they can help you.

For example:

  • having skin-to-skin contact with the baby
  • holding and cuddling the baby
  • changing nappies
  • burping the baby
  • bathing the baby

They can also bring you water or snacks while you are feeding.

Formula milk is just as good

No formula protects your baby from infections and diseases the way breast milk does. This is because there are antibodies and immune-protecting substances in breast milk that are not found in formula.

Formula completely lacks the hormones that regulate weight and appetite which are passed to breastfed babies through breast milk.

Breastfeeding does not only provide nutrition for your baby.

Together with skin-to-skin contact it also contributes to the early development of your baby's:

  • sight
  • hearing
  • touch
  • taste and smell
  • movement.

Formula is not sterile and needs to be safely prepared. If you decide to formula feed, your midwife, public health nurse or GP will help you.

Breastfeeding hurts

Breastfeeding should not hurt. It is, after all, the normal way to feed your baby.

If it does hurt, this can mean your baby is not positioned or attached correctly. Your lactation consultant, midwife, public health nurse or GP can help with this.

Getting breastfeeding off to a good start

Positioning and attachment

Breastfeeding will make your breasts sag

Breastfeeding will not make your breasts sag. Pregnancy hormones can stretch the ligaments that support your breasts. The ageing process can also make breasts appear to sag.

Wearing a well-fitting bra during pregnancy and while breastfeeding can help to combat breast sag.

You should stop breastfeeding if you have an infection

This is not true. Antibodies to the infection are passed into the breast milk and this stops your baby becoming ill.

You cannot take medicine while breastfeeding

There are very few medicines that you cannot take safely while breastfeeding. A very small amount of most medicines appears in the milk, but usually in such small amounts that there is no concern.

If you are worried about taking a medicine, talk to your GP or pharmacist. They can tell you which medicines are safe to take while breastfeeding.

Taking medicine while breastfeeding

You have to stop breastfeeding at 6 months

You do not have to stop breastfeeding at any set time.

The World Health Organisation recommends:

  • exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months
  • continued breastfeeding in addition to complementary foods until 2 years and beyond

Breastfeeding after 1 year has no nutritional value

This is not true. Babies who are 1 to 2 years old can receive up to 35% to 40 % of their energy intake from breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is an important source of fatty acids, Vitamin A and calcium.

Page last reviewed: 25 May 2022
Next review due: 25 May 2025