Breastfeeding plays a significant role in the development of a child, and is a natural and essential way for mothers to bond with their newborns.
Breast milk, often referred to as “liquid gold”, has been proven to have numerous health benefits for both babies and mothers. It helps protect against infections in infants, for example, and decreases the risk of breast and ovarian cancers in women.
As August is breastfeeding awareness month, here are eight myths and facts to help empower mothers and families when it comes to breastfeeding decisions.
1. Myth: Breastfeeding is easy and will come naturally to every mother and baby
Fact: while breastfeeding is a natural process, it can be challenging for many mothers and babies since it requires learning and practice for both of them.
Although babies are born with the instinct to look for their mother’s breast, many mothers still need the practical support of correctly positioning their baby to breastfeed and ensuring their child is correctly attached.
2. Breastfeeding hurts and can lead to sore nipples, saggy breasts
Most mothers experience discomfort when they first start learning how to breastfeed. But sore nipples can be avoided with the right support, correct attachment of the baby to the breast, and proper positioning of the infant.
Changes in breast appearance after breastfeeding are more likely due to genetics, age, and overall lifestyle factors. And while the ligaments supporting the breasts may stretch during pregnancy and breastfeeding, fret not – they will tighten again over time.
3. You must wash your nipples before breastfeeding
Not necessarily: newborns are often already familiar with their mother’s natural scents and sounds, so washing with soap prior to breastfeeding may cause them to not want to feed.
Moreover, the nipples naturally produce a substance with beneficial bacteria that aids in developing the baby’s immune system for healthier growth and development.
4. Stick with a strict diet and only eat plain foods to prevent colic or allergies in babies
Implementing a healthy, balanced diet post-delivery is beneficial for both mothers and babies. Generally, there is no need to change eating habits or avoid specific foods, as the babies would have already been exposed to their mothers’ food preferences in the womb.
If, however, the baby shows clear signs of sensitivity to something in the mother’s diet, she may need to make adjustments under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
5. Don’t breastfeed when you’re sick or your baby will get it, too
In most cases, it is safe to breastfeed as usual while the mother is sick. In fact, breast milk contains antibodies that are capable of protecting the baby from common childhood infections, diarrhoea, pneumonia, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Most illnesses are also not transmissible through breast milk.
6. Milk formulas are just as good and nutritious
Formulas can provide adequate nutrition for babies who are not breastfed, but breast milk offers unique benefits that formulas cannot replicate.
Essentially, breast milk contains antibodies, enzymes, and other bioactive components absent in milk formulas that help protect the baby against common infections, as well as promote optimal growth and development while their own immune systems are developing.
7. Breastfeeding prevents pregnancy
While breastfeeding can delay the return of ovulation and menstruation for some women, it doesn’t entirely stop them from becoming pregnant. This is owing to the fact that the amount of time from childbirth to resumption of the menstruation cycle varies widely for every woman, breastfeeding or not.
Furthermore, ovulation can happen before the menstrual cycle resumes, making it possible to get pregnant while breastfeeding.
8. Small breasts produce less milk than larger ones
Milk production capacity is independent of breast size; the amount of milk a woman produces is based on hormonal signals triggered by the baby’s demand for milk.
It is also determined by how well the baby latches on to the breast, the frequency of breastfeeding, and how well milk is removed with each feeding.
Thus, women of all breast sizes can produce sufficient milk to meet their baby’s needs.
This article was written by DOC2US, a mobile application that allows you to talk to a doctor or any healthcare professionals via text chat at any time and from anywhere.