7 Breastfeeding Position Myths That Should Be De-Bunked
There are a lot of myths surrounding breastfeeding, but breastfeeding position myths are more common than you may think. The day after I gave birth to my daughter, a nurse asked me if I needed any help breastfeeding. I asked her how I should position my baby so that we were both comfortable because all of the images in the baby books looked way too complicated and I just couldn't seem to get it right. The nurse had some suggestions, but bottom line? She told me to find a position that makes baby comfortable, me comfortable, and allows her to get the milk she needs.
That was really all the advice I needed, but it didn't stop the rest of the world from sharing myth after myth about breastfeeding positions with me. Whether people think they are being helpful or just want to interject because it worked for them, it was hard to get the voices out of my head when I would lay down to breastfeed my daughter (hello ear infections) or when I found a breastfeeding pillow did more harm than good. (There's no way you can support your baby without it.)
I know — breastfeeding is difficult enough without all of these extra things to keep in mind, but these seven myths about breastfeeding positions can give you the peace of mind you need (because you're doing awesome, mama) and offer you some quick facts to shout the next time someone insists you do a football hold to breastfeed.
Myth #1: Your Breastfeeding Position Doesn't Matter
It doesn't matter which position you use as long as you and baby are happy and finding success, but the actual art of finding a breastfeeding position definitely matters. According to Baby Center, it takes a lot of coordination to find a position that works, and because you two will be breastfeeding for hours each day, it's incredibly important to find the right one. Your milk supply can also be affected by poor positioning noted La Leche League International. A poor position may mean your baby's latch isn't as secure as it should be or that they aren't able to fully empty your breast in the position they are in, leading to an oversupply.
Myth #2: You Should Follow The Standard Position Every Mother Uses
Obviously, if the cradle hold works for you, then go for it. But Mayo Clinic suggested that you try a wide variety of positions so you can skip feeling awkward every time you want to feed your baby. International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Leigh Anne O'Connor told Romper that there is too much emphasis on trying to master a position and that as long as a mom isn't hunched over or uncomfortable and her baby is close to her, she can find the position that works best for her.
Myth #3: Nursing In A Horizontal Position Can Cause Ear Infections
Major myth, so don't give up that super comfortable breastfeeding position. According to KellyMom, this myth stems from the argument that bottle feeding while a baby is flat will cause milk to go into their ear canal, but breastfeeding is not the same as bottle feeding. La Leche League International also noted that because breast milk is full of antibodies and immunoglobulins, your baby is actually at less of a risk for developing ear infections.
Myth #4: Your Position Should Mimic A Bottle Feeding Position
If you've noticed that most of the positions suggested by hospitals and baby books look a lot like the position to feed a baby from a bottle, you're not alone. But a more natural position is actually best according to La Leche League International. Your baby shouldn't have to turn their head to reach your breast and your baby should be at nipple height to avoid any soreness or a hunched over neck and back.
Myth #5: You Should Always Use A Nursing Pillow
Although a nursing pillow can be very beneficial for some moms, it's not always necessary in order to breastfeed. The pillows are advertised as helping mom keep baby close to her and giving your baby plenty of support, but IBCLC Leigh Anne O'Connor told Romper that using a pillow could mean your baby is hanging from your nipple, affecting their latch and leading to sore nipples.
Myth #6: You Should Use The Same Position Every Time
Alternate if you want. Parents noted that, depending on the situation each day, a different nursing position might work better than the one you've been consistently using, so feel free to switch things up.
Myth #7: Clogged Ducts Aren't Affected By Your Nursing Position
According to Baby Center, alternating your nursing position and switching things up can actually prevent clogged milk ducts as different areas of your breast get stimulated and have pressure placed on or off of them throughout the day.