Did you know? Breastfeeding protects your baby from ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, and other childhood diseases.
All a mother needs to do is mention she’s breastfeeding, and instantly, everyone seems to have an opinion or a piece of advice, and too often the wrong information is passed along – sometimes through several generations.
Many new mums, who start breastfeeding, find themselves confronted with “old wives’ tales” and myths about breastfeeding that have no scientific basis or even logical justification. Far too often, they have to sift through breastfeeding misinformation to get the truth. Below are common myths about breastfeeding.
Here are some misconceptions and the facts that debunk them;
Breastfeeding is easy:
Babies are born with the reflex to look for their mother’s breasts. However, many mothers need practical support with positioning their baby for breastfeeding and making sure their baby is correctly attached to the breast. Breastfeeding takes time and practice for both mothers and babies. Breastfeeding is also time intensive, so mothers need space and support at home and work.
You should wash your nipples before breastfeeding:
Washing your nipples before breastfeeding isn’t necessary. When babies are born, they are already very familiar with their own mother’s smells and sounds. The nipples produce a substance that the baby smells and has ‘good bacteria’ that helps to build babies’ own healthy immune system for life.
Babies who have been breastfed are clingy:
All babies are different. Some are clingy and some are not, no matter how they are fed. Breastfeeding provides not only the best nutrition for infants, but is also important for their developing brains. Breastfed babies are held a lot and because of this, breastfeeding has been shown to enhance bonding with their mothers.
You shouldn’t breastfeed if you’re sick:
Depending on the kind of illness, mothers can usually continue breastfeeding when they’re sick. You need to make sure you get the right treatment, and rest, eat, and drink well. In many cases, the antibodies your body makes to treat your disease or illness will pass on to your baby, building his or her own defenses.
Exercise will affect the taste of your milk:
Exercise is healthy, also for breastfeeding mothers. There is no evidence that it affects the taste of your milk.
If you have small breasts, you won’t produce enough milk to feed your baby:
Size doesn’t matter! The size of your breasts has no impact on your body’s ability to produce milk because the breast size is caused by the amount of fatty and fibrous tissue in addition to the amount of milk-producing glandular tissue.
A mother must drink milk to make milk:
Milk production is tied to how well the breast is being drained of breast milk. You have to remember this is a supply and demand situation. Your breast will begin increasing or decreasing production to meet the consumption needs of your baby. While you don’t need cow’s milk to make human milk, you do need water, so remember to make sure you are drinking enough water while you are breastfeeding.
Babies naturally know how to breastfeed:
Your baby is born with infant reflexes that can help with breastfeeding like a sucking reflex and a rooting reflex. The sucking reflex is the baby’s instinct to suck anything that touches the roof of their mouth. The rooting reflex is when the baby turns their head towards any stroking on the cheek or the mouth. Although your baby is born with these natural instincts, they do not guarantee success in breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has to be learned and practiced by both the baby and the mother.
Learning to separate fact from fiction when it comes to nursing is important. But even when you are armed with evidence-based information about nursing, you may encounter challenges. In situations of unbearable discomfort either for the mum or the baby, it makes sense to seek medical help from your doctor.
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