The Comfort Your Way Giveaway is LIVE.  Win the Body Silk Seamless Collection, up to a value of $250. Enter Now »

Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Listen to Bad Breastfeeding Advice

People love to give advice, but never as much as when you're pregnant. When I was pregnant with my daughter Anya, everyone had to weigh in about what I should not eating or drinking, how I should not be sleeping, what I should not be doing – chiefly, soft cheese and alcohol, on my back, riding roller coasters and definitely not all at the same time. I typically don't mind being on the receiving end of advice, because it's almost always well-intentioned.

Whether she's a co-worker or a cashier at the supermarket, your pregnancy is an opportunity for other women to reminisce and wax philosophically about her pregnancy. Often the stories can be frightening (such as babies with cords around their necks or back labor or the epidural not kicking in) but what are you going to do? That baby's got to come out and there's no turning around.

But when they learn that you plan to breastfeed, watch out! While many if not most women breastfeed without incident, it's the women who had trouble who will – with good intention - scare the bejesus out of you. My advice is that if they don't start with, “I LOVED breastfeeding” or “I miss breastfeeding,” RUN like the Dickens or at least listen but don't take their advice to heart. If breastfeeding ended up not working out for them, they will use the next half hour as a therapy session.

As a mother, I feel for these women, I really do. Most women want to breastfeed and if they aren't able to reach their goal, whatever it is, they are likely still mourning over that loss. The advice they give you will really be advice they wish they had received, such as “it's not the end of the world if you need to give the baby a bottle.” Of course not, but you want to succeed and the best way to do it is to visualize yourself succeeding. They'll tell you about bloody nipples, engorgement, how they didn't have enough milk, etc.

But as a lactation consultant, I'm here to tell you – listen to their stories but understand that this is your body, your child, your family, your lifestyle, your support system. If they didn't have a good experience breastfeeding, why would you take their advice? Obviously it didn't work out for them and though you may learn from what didn't work out from them, as someone who's new to breastfeeding, it may be hard to discern what's accurate.

By virtue of reading the Breastfeeding Diaries, you are more than likely preparing for success: reading evidence-based information from Bravado's excellent resource library, bookmarking, attending a breastfeeding class, have a lactation consultant's number in your cel phone, have a breastfeeding book on your nightstand, etc. (Right? If not, add those items to your to-do list before you hit 9 months, okay?)

This week our bloggers talked about the breastfeeding advice that they've received. As I expected, their reactions to the advice are representative of the kind of people and parents they are or are going to be.

  • Lisa reports that the only consistent thing about the unsolicited advice she's been given is that it's all different. Of everything that she's been told, the best recommendation she's been given is Throw all advice you've been given out the window and listen to your baby. Now that's a person whose stories you can listen to!


  • April received conflicting advice too, but the information from healthcare professionals is more accurate than the anecdotes from friends which is a good reminder that, when in doubt, listen to the expert. The only caveat to that is that your pediatrician is not a breastfeeding expert. Your pediatrician is the one to call when your baby has a fever or breaks out in hives or has a cough. But when it comes to breastfeeding, take everything they say about it with a grain of salt. In the United States, pediatricians receive a bare minimum of training on breastfeeding. When it comes to breastfeeding, your best resource is a lactation consultant.


  • Mike and his wife Marisa attended a breastfeeding class and I'm glad to say that the seven tips he wrote about in his blog are on the money. If you haven't read his post yet, do yourself a BIG favor and not only read it, but print it out and make copies!


  • I'm so happy that Desiree had the good sense not to rough up her nipples and was kind enough to advise readers to "put down the washcloth." It reminds me of some ridiculous advice I was given at the hospital by a nurse of all people: I was to “cleanse” my nipples with warm water before and after feeding. I didn't know then that there was no need to cleanse nipples but I listened to myself and gave it up before I left the hospital. I was nursing my daughter about 20 times a day. If I had to wash anything that often, I'd quit.

What is the craziest or best advice you've received about breastfeeding?