Skip to main content

We use cookies to help us improve your experience and to provide services like web chat. We also use cookies to measure the effectiveness of public health campaigns and understand how people use the website.

To find out more about cookies and how we use them, please see our privacy policy.

Breastfeeding - Common myths

Fact and fiction about breastfeeding, including when to stop, whether it hurts, whether it makes your breasts sag and whether your baby will get enough milk.

It’s not that popular in this country

Almost 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 won’t get enough

Almost all women are able to produce enough breast milk. The size and shape of your breasts or nipples doesn't 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 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.

Related topic

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:

  • 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.

You can still have a sex life while breastfeeding.

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

Breastfeeding hurts

Breastfeeding should not hurt. It is, after all, the normal way to feed a baby. If it does hurt, it usually means the baby is not positioned or attached correctly. Your nurse, midwife, public health nurse or lactation consultant can help with this.

Related topic

Getting breastfeeding off to a good start

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 can't take medicine while breastfeeding

There are very few medicines that you can't 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 a medicine is something you're worried about, there are usually equally effective, alternative medicines that are safe to take while breastfeeding. Talk to your GP before taking medication.

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 for 6 months and then continued breastfeeding in addition to complementary food until 2 years and beyond.

Related topic

Weaning: starting your baby on solid foods

Breastfeeding for more than 1 year

Find a breastfeeding support group near you

Page last reviewed: 15/03/2019
Next review due: 15/03/2022

Find support services