Breastfeeding Myths and MisconceptionsGiving birth to a baby is one of the most wonderful experiences of life. Right from the early stages of pregnancy, you will receive lots of advice from friends, family, and strangers. Breastfeeding is no different.
Giving birth to a baby is one of the most wonderful experiences of life. Right from the early stages of pregnancy, you will receive lots of advice from friends, family, and strangers. Breastfeeding is no different. There are lots of myths and misconceptions surrounding breastfeeding. There may be truth in some myths, some may be partially true while others are plain misbeliefs. In the below paragraphs we examine some myths related to breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is an instinctive and effortless activity.
Many people wrongly believe that breastfeeding comes naturally to the mother and baby. Babies have an inbuilt tendency to look for their mother's breast. But mothers often need help with positioning the baby correctly and ensuring the baby is attached correctly to the breast. There can be some discomfort for the mothers in the early days of breastfeeding. Incorrect positioning can lead to problems like sore nipples. Mastering the correct technique of breastfeeding requires time, patience, and practice.
If a woman faces pain while breastfeeding, then she should consult a doctor. There may be some infection or problems with latching up. You need to consult a lactation consultant.
Breast milk depends on breast size.
Breast milk is produced by milk-producing cells in the breast tissue. The tissue grows during pregnancy to fulfill the baby's milk requirement. The breast size depends on the fat. This fat does not affect milk production. Regular breastfeeding can increase milk production. This is one of the most common breastfeeding myths new moms believe.
A breastfeeding mother should not take medications.
Some medications are suitable for breastfeeding mothers. Nipple pain can be excruciating and might need pain medications, don't worry most of them are safe for breastfeeding mothers, just keep in mind that it is necessary to inform the doctor before taking any. If your medication is not safe for consumption during breastfeeding then you can pump and discard the breast milk. Then you can resume breastfeeding after your medications are over.
Some mothers cannot produce sufficient milk for their children.
Mothers can produce adequate milk for their children. If the baby is not able to latch on to the breast properly then it won't be able to suck the milk from its mother's breast. In such cases, the mother may need support from professionals, like a lactation consultant, for the proper technique of breastfeeding. In a small percentage of cases, there is insufficient milk production in the mother's breast. But this happens due to inadequate stimulation of the breast because of reduced nursing frequency.
Breastfeeding prevents pregnancies.
The hormones involved in breastfeeding prevent ovulation. Breastfeeding can reduce your chances of conception. But breastfeeding does not guarantee birth control. If your regular menstrual cycle begins within six months after delivery then you have high chances of conception. The chances may be less as long as your regular menstrual cycle has not started.
But you should avoid strong birth control pills if you are breastfeeding. You can talk to your doctor about other methods if you don't want a baby immediately.
The shape of the nipple affects breastfeeding.
A well-rounded nipple makes it easy for the baby to latch on to the breast. But it does not mean that mothers with flat or inverted nipples cannot breastfeed their babies. Babies suck milk from the breast and the size and shape of the nipple have no impact on milk production. Sometimes the flat or inverted nipples may self-correct on the babies' arrival.
If you still face problems due to your nipples, like nipple pain, then you can wear breast shells or nipple shields. You may be also advised to use methods like manual manipulation and pumping for better lactation.
Breastfeeding mothers need to stay away from heavy or spicy foods.
This is partly true. A breastfeeding mom may need to limit her daily cup of coffee to one or two cups. Any more caffeine can disrupt the baby's sleep. Alcohol may be limited to one drink occasionally. Too much alcohol can get into breast milk and cause problems for the baby.
Babies can usually tolerate spicy or rich foods that their mothers eat. But if your baby gets fussy when you eat certain foods then you may have to stop that food and notice the baby's reaction. Eating a balanced diet, including flavorful food cannot harm your breast milk and may even help in introducing flavors to your baby so they won't get too picky when they start solids.
Breasts need to be rested in between feeds.
This is a misconception that is the opposite of the truth. Skipping feeds for resting the breasts only reduces milk production. Your breasts produce milk constantly. The breasts increase milk production when the mother nurses her child frequently. Any break can signal the body to reduce milk production.
Getting back to work means the end of breastfeeding.
Many mothers fear that they will have to end their breastfeeding once they get back to work. They won't get to regularly feed their children and this will end the production of breast milk. You can maintain your milk production by pumping milk every three hours. You can feed this milk to the baby as soon as you reach home. If pumping is not possible during the week then you can pump your breast milk during weekends and store it at home to be fed to the baby.
You can breastfeed the baby before going to work and immediately after reaching home. This will help in maintaining milk production.
Breast with adequate milk looks and feels full.
Many mothers mistakenly believe that if their breasts do not feel full then they are not able to produce adequate milk. This is not true. A few weeks after delivery, your body adjusts to the baby's needs and the full feeling disappears. Even if the breasts feel light, they are capable of producing enough milk for your baby's needs.
It is difficult to wean the baby after more than a year of breastfeeding.
Some people think that a longer breastfeeding duration will make it tough to wean the baby. But this is not true. As the baby grows up it will take a liking to solid food and naturally wean away from the breast milk.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and combine breast milk with solid foods on the next months, way until the baby reaches two years old.
Mothers do not secrete enough milk in the first few days after delivery.
A mother starts secreting colostrum immediately after birth. This milk is extremely beneficial for the child. When the child starts sucking milk, the milk production in the mother's body increases. Many women feel that they won't be able to produce enough milk after a C-section since they are on a liquid diet. This is not true. Mothers produce milk for their children irrespective of their diet.
For generations, new moms rely on the passed on tips from a family member for guidance on breastfeeding, however, some of the knowledge are merely common myths about breastfeeding. It is always wise to find the right support by reading reliable resources and consulting a lactation consultant.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Sara Gale
Sara loves traveling and exploring new places with her family. She is mom to 2 lovely children and loves bringing them out on adventures.