New mothers are often bombarded with various pieces of advice. Most people sincerely want to help, but few subjects evoke more heated discussion, misinformation, and misunderstanding than breastfeeding. Many new moms who begin breastfeeding are subjected to “old wives tales” and misconceptions about breastfeeding that have little empirical foundation or even rational reason. To get the correct facts, you also have to sift through a lot of breastfeeding misinformation.
To save your time and clear such doubts, I have debunked 10 more myths surrounding breastfeeding.
Myth 1: Babies born through caesarean births are not able to feed on their mother, as the body doesn’t produce milk
Truth: It is true that a C section causes the mother’s milk production to be delayed but it does not affect the mother’s capacity to make enough milk for her baby. All the mothers who give birth to a healthy infant whether through a natural or cesarean birth can successfully breastfeed their babies for as long as they want. Because of the anaesthesia administered in C-sec birth, the mother and the baby are more drowsy, hence making breastfeeding difficult on the first day postpartum. As soon as the effects of anaesthesia fade, the mother will start breastfeeding. The mother might need to adjust her position during breastfeeding due to the discomfort or pain in the stitches. But with right positions like, football hold or lying down position, the mothers can successfully feed without any hindrance.
Myth 2: A mother isn’t making enough milk for the baby if the infant is crying or feeding often
Truth: Babies cry for a variety of reasons:
- They may be wet, cold, hot or in pain
- Have heard a loud, frightening noise
- They simply want to be held
Excessive weeping does not mean the baby requires breastfeeding, let alone a top feed. And believing it does could lead parents to overlook the real reason for the tears.
Also, breastmilk gets easily digested, it takes less time to get digested than formula milk, hence a breastfed baby might get hungry sooner.
Myth 3: Exercising affects the taste of breast milk
Truth: Doctors recommend exercising or physical activity after delivery, it is perfectly healthy for the mothers. There is no scientific proof that exercise can affect the taste of breast milk. It’s your boob! You will sweat while exercising, and those mammary glands are no exception, so if you want to feed your baby right after your workout, they will most likely be greeted with what we refer to as “salty boob.” Giving your breast a simple wipe before offering it to your child is the quickest way to fix this, and they will have no idea.
Myth 4: Babies who are breastfed tend to cling to the mother more
Truth: Every child is unique. No matter how they are fed, some are clingy and others are not. Breastfeeding not only offers the best nutrition for children, but it is also beneficial to their brain development. Since breastfed babies are carried frequently, breastfeeding has been shown to improve bonding with their mothers. Also, humans are called the “ Carry Mammals” i.e their babies are meant to be held and kept close to their mothers. The closer they are to the mothers, the more stable they are. So whether you choose to breastfeed or not, make sure you are carrying your child enough else it will hamper their development.
Myth 5: It is difficult for the baby to wean if the infant has been breastfed for more than a year
Truth: Weaning ease is determined more by your child’s developmental readiness for weaning than by his or her age. For infant-led weaning, each child has his or her developmental timeline. If mom starts weaning, the closer the child gets to weaning on his own, the easier it will be to speed up this natural process (for both mom and child). If the mothers choose to wean the baby and the baby is still not ready, there will be resistance from the child. Ths weaning has to be a very gradual process so it does not affect both the mother and baby emotionally and mentally.
Myth 6: Breastfeeding requires washing your nipples each time
Truth: Washing the nipple before feeding dries the nipple and makes them more prone to nipple damage. Also, the Montgomery glands located on the dark area surrounding your nipples releases fragrances, with which the baby associates the mother. If you wash your nipples before feeding, it will make it difficult for the baby to find the breast and latch on it. The breast also releases essential oils that make them self- cleansing. So mothers have to maintain the basic hygiene of bathing every day and washing the breast with only water. Soaps and other perfumed products can cause dry, cracked and irritated skin.
Myth 7: Other replacements cannot be used if the mother is planning on breastfeeding
Truth: Although continuing to breastfeed, mothers may decide that they need to use the formula on occasion. It’s important to get unbiased details about formula and other breastmilk substitutes. Effective and frequent milk removal is very important for a good milk supply, so it could be beneficial for mothers to seek the advice of a lactation consultant or other qualified professional to devise a strategy that will enable them to continue breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a choice that a mother makes and every mother should have the freedom to choose how she wants to feed her baby.
Myth 8: A newborn should be kept separate from the mother right after birth, to let the mother rest
Truth: Healthy mothers and babies should not be separated after birth or in the early days after birth unless it is medically advised. The process of birthing can be very traumatising for the mother and baby. For the baby, the only familiar environment is the mother. So separating the baby from the mother causes a lot of stress in the baby. When the baby is kept on the mother’s skin immediately after birth, the baby is much more stable and adapts to the extra-uterine life quickly and easily. Also, it’s the easiest way to establish breastfeeding relationships. Interrupting, delaying, or limiting the amount of time a mother and her baby spend together can be detrimental to their relationship as well as to breastfeeding success.
Myth 9: The mother should only consume plain food at the time of breastfeeding
Truth: This misconception stems from the belief that spicy and strong-flavoured foods can contaminate your breast milk and cause your baby to have an upset stomach. However, studies show that when breastfeeding, you can (and should!) eat whatever you want. Some studies have shown that babies who are exposed to different flavours while in the womb or while breastfeeding are more likely to enjoy the flavour after weaning. So spice up your diet unless you want a picky-eater on your side.
Myth 10: A mother cannot breastfeed if she’s sick or taking any medication
Truth: Breastfeeding when sick is absolutely healthy and beneficial to your infant. In certain cases, the antibodies generated by your body to combat the illness will be passed on to your infant, allowing him or her to develop his or her own defences. Mothers will normally continue breastfeeding when sick, depending on the type of illness. You must ensure that you receive the proper care, and resting well to give your body healing time to recover from the illness else it might affect your supply.