Breastfeeding is not fool-proof birth control: Doctor busts 5 myths about breastfeeding

MILWAUKEE -- This week marks world breastfeeding week, and the goal is to highlight its importance for infants. The good news is, more mothers are breastfeeding these days, but the reality is, more could do so. Dr. Jenny Thomas, a pediatrician and lactation consultant with Aurora Health Care, joins Real Milwaukee to dispel five myths about breastfeeding.

Myth 1: Pain is normal: 

One of the most common misconceptions is that pain is normal when it comes to breastfeeding. It's not always easy at first, but it shouldn't hurt. There are different positions the mom and baby need to try and other tips and techniques that a lactation consultant or pediatrician can help with. The bottom line is to not suffer in silence. Call the lactation consultant or doctor and go in to get some help.

Myth 2: Feeding every 2-3 hours:

Another common misconception is that your baby will feed every 2-3 hours. The reality is that babies are unpredictable, especially at first, and they should be fed on demand. Sometimes babies want to do what`s called cluster feeding and feed a lot in very close increments. Pediatricians can help with a feeding schedule, but when a baby is very young, it`s difficult to have any kind of schedule and you should just feed on demand.

Myth 3: Breastfeeding is birth control: 

Breastfeeding is not fool-proof birth control. Even mothers who exclusively breastfeed at least every four to six hours and have not yet gotten their period, can get pregnant.

Myth 4: Sleeping through the night: 

Patients often ask Dr. Thomas about babies sleeping through the night, and some think that a breastfed baby will not sleep through the night until they start solid foods. In reality, a baby will sleep through the night when they are ready. It depends on a number of factors, the baby`s size, personality and sleeping patterns. It`s true that breastmilk is digested more quickly than formula. But parents should not start babies on solid food before their doctor recommends it just to try to get their baby to sleep through the night.

Myth 5: Breast milk turns to water:

Many people think that breast-feeding after a year is not necessary and that there isn't any nutritional value for the child. Breastmilk changes with the age of the child so the milk a mother makes for her newborn is very different then the milk she makes for her nine-month-old, and the milk that you make for a one-year-old is adapted to sue the metabolic needs of the one-year-old. Breast milk continues to have antibodies and nutrition for as long as breastfeeding continues.