Breastfeeding advice can come from anywhere. Your family, friends, social media and even strangers may chime in at various times during your breastfeeding journey with well-meaning advice. However, some of this information though well intentioned, has been passed down over the years and lacks scientific validity. During World Breastfeeding Week, we will debunk some of these myths and set the record straight.

1. Breast milk does not contain enough iron for the baby

This is incorrect.  Breast milk contains enough iron to meet the needs your growing baby. Lactoferrin, a special protein found in breast milk, plays a key role in the binding and absorption of the iron contained in breast milk. Babies absorb only 12% of the iron found in formula compared to a 50% absorption rate from breast milk.

2. Breastfeeding hurts

While there can certainly be some discomfort associated with breastfeeding, breastfeeding should not be painful. If breastfeeding is painful, see your health care provider or a breastfeeding specialist to rule out any issues with your baby’s latch or a possible infection of your nipple.

3. When a mother is sick with the flu, she should not breastfeed

Mothers who are sick should be encouraged to continue breastfeeding. When you are infected with the flu virus, it has actually been incubating in your system for at least 2 days before it manifests in flu-like symptoms which means that your baby has already been exposed to the virus. Furthermore, breast milk is chocked full of maternal antibodies which help strengthen the baby’s immune system, potentially preventing illness. When you are sick, it should be encouraged to keep up your regular feeding schedule as you are providing immune protection to your baby and possibly helping your baby to recover faster.

4. Mothers should avoid drinking when breastfeeding Red Wine

It has been a long standing myth that any amount of alcohol consumed by the breastfeeding mom will harm the baby. According to the La Leche League, a world leader in the distribution of breastfeeding information, when a mother consumes no more than one alcoholic beverage per day or drinks only occasionally, the effects on the baby are minimal. Excessive alcohol consumption however might reduce let down, reduce your baby’s linear growth rate and lead to sleepiness, weakness and psychomotor delays. However, the occasional drink or a glass of wine of dinner is most likely not harmful to your baby.

5. A mother must be careful to eat a healthy diet including dairy products to make milk.

Humans are the only mammal known to drink the milk of another mammal. Drinking cow’s or goat’s milk is a choice and not a necessity for the healthy production of milk. A well balanced diet including lean protein, fruit, vegetables, fat and whole grain is all a mother needs to produce enough milk for her baby. Including calcium rich foods such as almonds, sesame seeds, broccoli and whole grains is beneficial and if you do consume dairy, it is ok to continue to include it as a part of your well balanced diet.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to bond with your baby, providing him or her with nutrition and immune factors for their healthy development. Breastfeeding is a skill for moms and babies alike which can come with challenges at first until you both find your rhythm. As a new mom, it is common to get bombarded with advice online and from friends and family; however, this advice is not always accurate. For more information contact a La Leche leader in your community.

About the Author

Dr. Olivia Rose graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences and in 2006, she graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Rose is the director of Fertility Acupuncture Services, a mobile service that brings acupuncture to couples undergoing in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination at Toronto fertility clinics. Her special areas of interest include infertility; children and teen health; stress management; weight loss; heart disease; digestive and immune health; skin rejuvenation and pain management. She is a birth doula and has additional training in cosmetic acupuncture and needle-less therapies for skin rejuvenation and joint pain.

Dr. Rose is a sought-after lecturer for community organizations; a freelance writer and mentor to new graduates. She has been interviewed by various media outlets including Global Toronto’s, “The Morning Show”, “News at Noon” and “News Hour”. In her free time, she unplugs at the spa and she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, son and tea-cup Yorkie. For more information on Dr. Rose's practice and special events, please visit -