When it comes to breastfeeding, your well-meaning friends and family members always have an advice to give. The ‘wisdom’ they impart is not necessarily always the truth. Some of these are just myths that have been around for a long time.
To make life simpler for you, we’ve compiled a list of 9 common myths and the truths surrounding breastfeeding.
#1 You must drink milk to make milk
This one’s a common myth but holds no truth. Whether you drink milk or not has nothing to do with your breast milk supply. Drinking milk is important for you to have a nutritious balanced diet. Your body takes the essential nutrients from your body and adds it to your breast milk. This helps your baby receive all the necessary nutrition from your milk.
It is also important that you realize that if you’re undernourished, your body will still take all the nutrients important for your baby and include them in your breast milk. This will make you further undernourished.
#2 Many women do not make enough breast milk
False, women mostly make enough milk for their babies. You may think you’re not making enough milk for your baby’s needs, but it’s just your perception. But rather than concentrating on your breast size and the fullness you experience, watch out for signs that indicate breastfeeding is going well for both you and your baby.
These may include:
- Having at least six wet diapers each 24-hour period by the time he/she is four days old
- Having at least three or more poopy diapers, with yellowish coloured poop by the time she/he is four days old
- Pale and diluted urine
- Breastfeeding at least eight times in a 24-hour period
- Regaining their birth weight by 10 to 14 days old
- Gaining about four to eight ounces per week
- Hearing your baby swallow during a feeding
- Having a rhythmic suckling pattern while feeding
- Baby sleeps for 1-2 hours after the feed
- You might feel your breast to become lighter at the end of the feed
#3 A formula is the same as breast milk
Formula milk is in no possible way the same as breast milk. Breast milk is natural and more physiological. Formula is more a medicine than food. Your breast milk is the ideal food for your baby. It prepares your baby’s stomach for food by coating and closing the normal openings in your baby’s intestinal linings. Babies that have breast milk usually experience less spitting up and gas. It also gives your baby his/her first immunization.
According to studies babies who’ve had breastmilk are at a lesser risk of:
- Respiratory infections
Formula may be used only in unavoidable circumstances.
#4 If you give your baby bottles of pumped milk, s/he will refuse the breast
Nipple confusion is when a breastfeeding baby is having trouble latching and breastfeeding effectively after being fed with a bottle. Babies need to use different techniques when nursing versus feeding from a bottle. When breastfeeding, they control the flow of milk from mom by creating suction, using their pauses to swallow and breathe. When using an average baby bottle, babies don’t have to work as hard because gravity and the nipple cause the milk flow to be more continuous for baby. Nipple confusion occurs when baby switches back to breast and doesn’t understand why the milk flows differently than it did with the bottle. It’s recommended to delay giving a bottle or pacifier until breastfeeding is well-established – usually when your baby is about 4 weeks old. And if direct breastfeeding cannot be done due to some reasons, then the breast milk can be expressed and given through a spoon or paladai.
#5 Don’t wake your sleeping baby to breastfeed
Unless and until your baby is above three months old and a well-versed feeder, this isn’t true. To put in place a regular breastfeeding pattern and provide your baby with the required amounts of energy you need to wake him/her up to feed.
Letting your baby sleep for long periods between feedings will make him/her dull and sleepy. This can prove to be a problem. In the days after birth, it is important that you wake your baby to establish a proper feeding routine.
#6 Breastfeeding makes your baby clingy and dependent
It does quite the opposite. Several studies have shown that children who benefit from the attachment of breastfeeding become more independent later in life.
It is important that this mindset regarding breastfeeding is changed to ensure healthier and happier babies.
#7 Don’t breastfeed if you smoke
This may sound a bit odd, but this is not true. A mom who is unable to stop smoking can breastfeed. Doctors don’t recommend smoking while breastfeeding your child, but if you simply cannot let go of the habit it is okay to breastfeed if you are a smoker.
Breastfeeding has numerous health benefits for both you and your child even if you are a smoker. It’s best if you don’t smoke but if it’s impossible for you to do so, smoking and breastfeeding are better than smoking and formula milk.
#8 Stop breastfeeding if your child has diarrhoea
The truth is that breastfeeding is the optimal medicine for your sick child. This is because there are certain substances in your milk that protect your baby’s digestive system and help combat illnesses. Moreover, it is easily digested by your baby as compared to other milks.
Breast milk also ensures your baby isn’t dehydrated due to loss of water. Additionally, it’s an excellent source of comfort.
#9 You’ll wake up one day and your breast milk will have disappeared
Losing all your breast milk is a very rare phenomenon. Your supply of milk isn’t consistent throughout the day. Somedays you may feel fuller and somedays you won’t. This in no way means your milk supply will just disappear one fine day. It takes quite some time for your breast milk supply to wane.
Most importantly, stress and lack of confidence can affect the milk supply. Hence it is always advised that mothers must be relaxed, confident and be able to cherish the breastfeeding experience.
In certain instances, women completely wean their babies and still have breast milk for a year! If you have doubts regarding your breast milk supply, it is best to contact your doctor or midwife to clear them.
Overall, the experience every woman has with breastfeeding is different. The truth to some may be completely unbelievable to others. But you need to beware of falling prey to such myths. They are very misleading and may prompt you to take actions that aren’t really needed. Stay well-versed with the advantages of breastfeeding to ensure you give your little one all the nutrition s/he needs.