Being a mother is one of the most precious gifts for a woman. And for a lactating mother, breastfeeding is an essential aspect where the mother not only feeds her child but also transfers her antibodies and immune power to the child’s innate immunity.
For first-time mothers, you are poured with tons of advice on how and when to feed from near and far relatives or friends. And sometimes, the advice can create ambiguity as to what is right and what is to be done. With many misconceptions about breastfeeding and lactation, it can be difficult for nursing mothers to understand the myths and facts.
This article will discuss some myths and truths about breastfeeding that have been demystified with scientific facts and evidence.
In this Article
- 1 1. Latching can hurt in the beginning
- 2 2. Your baby will automatically find a good latch
- 3 3. You will have to discontinue feeding if you become pregnant or the baby starts solids
- 4 4. You need to adopt a special diet while nursing
- 5 5. Too much feeding can reduce milk production and supply
- 6 6. You will always have trouble breastfeeding
- 7 7. You can’t get pregnant if you’re breastfeeding
- 8 8. You are likely to have sagging breasts after chestfeeding
- 9 9. If your baby is nursing frequently, it means you do not have enough breast milk
- 10 10. Waiting longer between feedings can help “fill up” the breasts with milk.
- 11 11. The potential benefits of breast milk nullify after the first few months
- 12 12. Breasts do not have any milk the first few days after childbirth
- 13 13. You must avoid medication while breastfeeding
- 14 14. Breastfed babies don’t get sick
- 15 15. You must not breastfeed when you are sick
- 16 16. Working mothers need to discontinue feeding once they go back to work
- 17 17. Women with small breasts, large breasts, inverted nipples, or flat nipples can’t breastfeed
- 18 18. Supplementing a baby’s feed with formula means you have failed in nursing
- 19 Conclusion
- 20 FAQs
1. Latching can hurt in the beginning
Many lactating mothers do experience breast and nipple pain in the beginning. But if the baby is well latched, it does not hurt, even in the beginning. The pain that most mothers experience may be because of
improper positioning or latching. These minor tugging issues get resolved within seconds when the baby finds a good latch or position for feeding.
2. Your baby will automatically find a good latch
Newborns are blessed with reflexes or “involuntary movements” that aid them in feeding. But, these reflex actions do not mean the babies will latch by themselves. Remember, you and your baby are learning together, and the mother must guide the baby to get a good latch. Here are some tips on how to get the baby to latch on well.
How to get your baby to Latch on?
- During the first few weeks, when the child is mostly asleep, gentle stimulation, such as changing diapers and rubbing the baby’s feet or back, can help wake the baby up.
- While feeding, hold the baby in your arms and rest the baby on the bed or pillow.
- Though there are different positions or types of breastfeeding, the best is sitting straight while breastfeeding. This will ensure that the baby is well fed or latched.
- Tickle the baby’s lips with the nipples, helping the baby to open its lips for feeding.
- Point the nipple a little above the baby’s top lip and let the lower lip be away from the base of the nipple.
- The baby’s tongue must be out as it helps in feeding or sucking, and the breasts should fill the baby’s mouth.
- Make sure that the baby’s lips are turned outward like a fish’s mouth while feeding and the chin is not tucked in their chests.
3. You will have to discontinue feeding if you become pregnant or the baby starts solids
If you become pregnant while you are lactating, you need not ‘wean’ or detach from feeding/ nursing your child. However, many parents choose to wean while nursing. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), nursing during pregnancy is common and can be done throughout the pregnancy if the pregnancy is low risk.
Most babies start solids after six months or anytime before 12 months. Breast milk or formula must be the staple food of your child for the first 12 months. The child must get ample nutrition and immunity through breast milk, and parents can continue nursing even after 12 months to up to 2 to 2.5 years.
4. You need to adopt a special diet while nursing
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nursing mothers need to be well nourished. They require more calories to meet their nutritional needs while breastfeeding. However, they need not adapt to any special dietary preferences during lactation.
5. Too much feeding can reduce milk production and supply
Many parents face issues with feeding and milk supply, which may be due to medical, hormonal, or anatomical reasons. However, nursing mothers with no such problems can produce enough milk if they ensure their babies are well fed or latched during feeding.
6. You will always have trouble breastfeeding
During pregnancy or breastfeeding, you might have heard of many parents facing difficulty while breastfeeding. However, remember that many more parents have had little trouble while feeding. Your child must be latched well onto the breasts during every feed.
7. You can’t get pregnant if you’re breastfeeding
It is one of the most common myths about breastfeeding that a lactating mother cannot get pregnant. Even if you are nursing exclusively (both during the day and night), you can get pregnant anytime after three weeks of childbirth.
8. You are likely to have sagging breasts after chestfeeding
Nursing can cause sagging breasts is one of the most typical breastfeeding myths. It is important to get facts cleared that nursing continuously does not lead to sagging breasts.
9. If your baby is nursing frequently, it means you do not have enough breast milk
Many assume that a baby that is hungry all the time may be because the mother does not have enough milk. According to the National Institute of Health, some babies need to be fed regularly or frequently, while others can have their feeds assembled in one. Your baby’s growth, activity, milestones, digestion, and peeing can help gauge whether you are making enough milk for your little one.
10. Waiting longer between feedings can help “fill up” the breasts with milk.
After a feed, the breasts are not “fully empty.” Waiting more than required to let them fill is not required. Moreover, the breasts full of milk send signals to slow down milk production. It is recommended to feed your child at regular intervals or whenever they show signs that they need a feed.
11. The potential benefits of breast milk nullify after the first few months
This is an absolute myth. According to the WHO guideline, “babies must be exclusively breastfed for the first six months and must continue to be nursed until at least 12 months, even after introduction to solid foods.” The advantages of breastfeeding are immense, including the exclusive nutritional and immunological benefits the baby continues to acquire through break milk even after the initial months of feeding.
12. Breasts do not have any milk the first few days after childbirth
The breasts may take a few days to produce mature milk. However, this does not indicate that your breasts do not have any milk. A mother starts producing the baby’s first milk during pregnancy- the colostrum. Colostrum is the perfect first food for your baby, available immediately after birth. The colostrum is full of antibodies and immunity that essentially protect the baby.
13. You must avoid medication while breastfeeding
Prescribed medications are usually safe to take during medications. Nowadays, many medications have breastfeeding-safe alternatives that can be taken while nursing. It is, however, safe to consult your physician before self-medicating or taking additional medications or supplements while chestfeeding.
14. Breastfed babies don’t get sick
Breast milk reduces the risk of certain health issues, such as stomach problems, ear infections, etc. And breast milk also adds immunity and antibodies that protect the child from attacking pathogens and viruses. However, it is essential to note that breastfeeding babies can get ill and be prone to viruses or infections.
15. You must not breastfeed when you are sick
Nursing mothers need to know that breastfeeding is a medium of nourishing their child, and it must not be stopped even when you are sick or ill. Breast milk is vital for the baby as it has antibodies that help fight infections. Hence, breastfeeding even when you are sick can make your child less prone to infections.
16. Working mothers need to discontinue feeding once they go back to work
For lactating mothers who work, nursing can become more challenging once they get back to work. However, they will need to find ways with breastfeeding techniques like using a pump, bottles, and nursing before they leave for work and immediately after they get back from work.
17. Women with small breasts, large breasts, inverted nipples, or flat nipples can’t breastfeed
It can be challenging for some having large or small breasts and inverted or flat nipples. However, many women with these issues also can make enough milk for feeding or manage well with breastfeeding techniques.
18. Supplementing a baby’s feed with formula means you have failed in nursing
Many nursing mothers need to choose formula supplements to feed their newborns as their breast milk may not be enough to feed the child adequately. However, this does not mean that you have failed or need to stop nursing. Nursing and formula feeding can go hand in hand as both help revive the baby’s immunity and nourishment.
As the article uncovers the myths and facts about breastfeeding, you can learn how breastfeeding is vital in providing nutritional and immunological benefits to the toddler. Always remember not to stop or discontinue breastfeeding until the child is a year old. However, you can continue to feed even after 12 months.
Working lactating mothers or mothers who stay away from the child for long have alternative options like pumps and bottles, which can help ensure the baby’s nutritional needs are met. Connect with your doctor for any query or discussion regarding breastfeeding.
Not everyone during breastfeeding loses weight. Women, while breastfeeding, need to take in more calories to cater to the baby’s nutritional requirements. Some may even gain weight during breastfeeding. A nursing mother must focus on eating nutritious foods rather than weight loss and dieting.
Most babies tend to nurse frequently. While some can have lesser feeds. Nursing isn’t only about nourishment. Feeding releases “feel good” hormones, such as prolactin and oxytocin, making the baby come close more regularly. Nursing whenever the child feels hungry is an ideal form of breastfeeding.
Breast milk is indeed a great source of nutrition. However, no clear-cut scientific evidence shows the association between breastfeeding and the baby’s intelligence.
A baby crying after nursing may be because it needs to be burped or a diaper change. If your child is growing well and feeding frequently but fussy, it does not mean they are hungry, or the mother is not producing enough breast milk.
Regular intake of caffeine or alcohol is not permitted during breastfeeding. However, limited coffee or occasional alcohol is less likely to cause harm to the baby. It is essential to check with your doctor on the caffeine and alcohol limits to be taken while breastfeeding.