Myth #7: A breastfed baby won’t sleep through the night until she starts eating solids.
Truth: Your baby will sleep through the night when she’s ready.
And that depends on a number of factors, such as her size, personality and sleeping patterns. That said, breastfed babies do need to be fed more frequently than formula-fed babies in the early months because breast milk is digested more quickly than formula. “But I would never recommend loading a baby up with formula or feeding solid foods before she’s ready just to get her to sleep,” Lauwers says. “As long as your baby is getting enough to eat, she’ll sleep for as long as she’s meant to sleep.”
Myth #8: Breastfeeding is a reliable form of birth control.
Truth: If you’re not ready to be pregnant again, don’t rely on breastfeeding for birth control.
However, if you’re breastfeeding exclusively (and that means frequently, day and night), if your baby is younger than 6 months and if your period hasn’t resumed, the so-called lactation amenorrhea method can be 98 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. “But if all three of those criteria are not met, or if you’re letting your baby use a pacifier [which can make a baby suck less often or less intensely when on the breast, in turn affecting your hormone production], breastfeeding should not be used as contraception,” Lauwers says.
Myth #9: Once you go back to work, you’ll have to wean.
“If you commit to pumping, you can give your baby breast milk for as long as you wish,” Haldeman says. This involves pumping three times a day when you’re at work—preferably at the same times she would normally nurse—until your baby is 6 months old. After that, when she’s eating some solids, you can drop down to twice a day. (If you continue to nurse in the morning and at night, in addition to pumping twice, you should be able to maintain an adequate milk supply.)
Since pumping will probably consume most of your break and lunch times, keep a supply of nutritious snacks at your desk so you have the fuel you need to make milk. Haldeman recommends fruit, protein bars, nuts and the nutritional drink Ensure. Also be sure to drink plenty of water—at least eight glasses a day.
Myth #10: Breastfeeding your child for more than one year makes weaning difficult.
Truth: There is no evidence that nursing for longer than one year will make weaning more difficult than if you weaned earlier.
“Babies are individuals, and some just want to nurse longer than others,” Lauwers says. Some children give it up on their own at about 1 year of age, while others are content to nurse well past their second birthday.
Lauwers recommends that you consider weaning only when you and your baby are both ready for it. “But if you reach a point where you no longer enjoy it, you may want to consider weaning to avoid sending negative messages to your baby,” she says.