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14 Breastfeeding Myths Busted

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Numerous myths and facts encircle pregnancy and breastfeeding. Read the article below to know more about breastfeeding myths.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sonal Prasad

Published At June 30, 2022
Reviewed AtNovember 10, 2022

Introduction

Breastfeeding is different for everyone, sometimes difficult, especially for new moms. When you are pregnant or a new breastfeeding mother, you come across various stories from experienced mothers. Although gathering information and learning about breastfeeding from experienced mothers is recommended. These stories are surrounded by many truths and sometimes misbeliefs that may affect you and make you think or plan otherwise.

What Are the Most Commonly Encountered Breastfeeding Myths?

1. Breastfeeding Is Easy for Moms:

Babies have been born with reflexes to look for mothers' breasts. However, for most breastfeeding mothers achieving successful breastfeeding is difficult. A good latch is most important for proper breast milk supply and having a pain-free breastfeeding experience for mothers. It usually takes time and practice for you and your baby to determine and adapt to the most comfortable position.

2. Breastfeeding Hurts and Sore Nipples Are Inescapable:

It is a common belief among most inexperienced mothers that it is normal for breastfeeding to hurt. Many mothers experience problems during the initial few days of breastfeeding. One can easily overcome these problems with appropriate training and the right support. Correcting and practicing proper latch can prevent the development of sore nipples. However, if a mother is facing various breastfeeding challenges, she may seek the help of a lactation counselor or breastfeeding specialist.

3. Cleaning Nipples Before Breastfeeding Your Baby:

Washing your nipples before breastfeeding is not essential as they contain good bacteria that can help the baby develop its immune system. Additionally, the babies are familiar with their mother's smell and sound, and the nipple produces some substance that the baby recognizes about their mother.

4. Separating Mother and Baby for the Mothers to Rest:

All lactation specialists and doctors encourage skin-to-skin contact between the mother and the newborn immediately after birth. Direct contact between the mother and the baby is essential to promote breastfeeding. The attachment should be placed within one hour of delivery and must be practiced frequently to achieve successful breastfeeding.

5. Breastfeeding Mother Should Eat Bland Food:

A breastfeeding mother needs nutritious food consisting of a balanced diet. Moms should not change their food preferences while breastfeeding. Babies are already exposed to their mothers’ food habits while they are in the womb. However, if a mother notices any reaction to some specific foods, it would be best to consult a specialist.

6. Exercise Can Alter Breast Milk Taste:

Exercise is beneficial for everyone, even for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. However, there is no evidence supporting that it can change the taste of your breast milk.

7. Stopping Breastfeeding if You Are Sick:

A mother can usually continue breastfeeding when they are sick. However, it would be best to seek immediate help from a doctor to get the appropriate treatment, rest, and eat and drink nicely in such situations. Some studies claim that the antibodies produced by the mother's body to fight the infection can get transferred to the baby, letting the baby develop its defense mechanism.

8. Many Mothers Cannot Produce Enough Milk:

Almost all mothers make the appropriate breast milk to feed their babies. Successful breastfeeding factors include proper latching techniques, breastfeeding frequency, and complete emptying of the breast milk from both breasts.

9. You Would Not Be Able to Achieve Successful Breastfeeding if You Do Not Start Breastfeeding Instantly After Birth:

It is easier for a mother to begin breastfeeding in the initial hours after delivery as the babies have strong reflexes. However, if you cannot latch your baby immediately, you can do it as soon as possible. You may seek the help of a skilled professional or a lactation specialist for the same.

10. Formula Milk Cannot Be Used if You Continue Breastfeeding:

Breastfeeding is recommended for up to six months. After that period, a mother may use formula milk occasionally while continuing to breastfeed. But, again, it would be best to consult a lactation specialist to plan a diet that works best for you and your baby.

11. It Is Difficult to Wean a Baby if Breastfeeding Is Continued Beyond Infancy:

There is no reliable evidence supporting that weaning could become hard if breastfeeding is not stopped in one year. Reports suggest that breastfeeding is beneficial for both mothers and children for up to two years. The decision to continue breastfeeding should be entirely dependent on the baby's and mother's desires.

12. Weaning Your Baby Is Important Before Going Back to Work:

Many mothers can easily manage breastfeeding even after going back to work. You may check your workplace policies, and if you have the right to breastfeed your baby during working hours, you may go home or ask your family members to bring your baby to you for breastfeeding. You may also express and store breast milk for a day before leaving for work.

13. Babies Become Clingy When Breastfed:

The nature of babies is irrespective of how they are fed, as they are all different from one another. Breastfeeding provides the best nutrition for the growth and development of infants. It also enhances the bonding between the mother and the baby.

14. Medication Cannot Be Taken if You Are a Breastfeeding Mother:

You need to inform your doctor before taking any medicine when breastfeeding, as some drugs are contraindicated during the lactation period. It would be best to take the medication in consultation with your doctor.

Conclusion

Breastfeeding is complex, and most mothers require support and guidance from lactation specialists or experienced mothers. Staying healthy, eating, and drinking water well is vital for a breastfeeding mother. Mothers need extra calories and a balanced diet during their lactation period. Almost all mothers need practice and time to learn to breastfeed. Frequent skin-to-skin contact and putting your baby to the breast will help achieve flourishing breastfeeding.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

When Was Breastfeeding Sexualized?

Breastfeeding, in and of itself, is not a sexual act. However, the act of breastfeeding has been sexualized by some cultures or individuals, leading to a stigma around breastfeeding in public or even in front of family members. The sexualization of breastfeeding has roots in the sexualization of the female body and the objectification of women. Breastfeeding has been a normal part of human life for thousands of years, and it is only in recent times that it has become stigmatized or sexualized in certain cultures.

2.

Can You Breastfeed for 15 Years?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby's life, with continued breastfeeding alongside complementary foods for up to two years or beyond. However, the duration of breastfeeding can vary depending on individual circumstances, such as the mother's and baby's health and cultural practices.

3.

What Is the Role of the Husband in Breastfeeding?

The role of a husband in breastfeeding can vary depending on the relationship and cultural context. Generally speaking, a supportive husband can play an important role in promoting and facilitating breastfeeding. This may include providing emotional support, helping with household chores and childcare responsibilities, and encouraging a healthy diet for the breastfeeding mother. Some cultures also have traditions where the husband plays a role in caring for the breastfeeding mother and child. Ultimately, the husband's involvement in breastfeeding depends on the individual circumstances and preferences of the couple.

4.

What Are the Advantages of Breastfeeding for the Husband?

Breastfeeding has numerous benefits for both mother and baby, but there are few direct benefits for the husband. However, a supportive and involved husband can help create a positive environment for breastfeeding and provide emotional and practical support for the mother and baby.

5.

Which Country Has the Longest Breastfeeding Period?

According to a report by UNICEF, the countries with the highest rates of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life are in Africa and include Rwanda, Burundi, and Madagascar.

6.

Can I Continue to Breastfeed My Older Son?

As for breastfeeding an older child, it is possible, and some mothers choose to breastfeed their children beyond infancy. However, it is important to consider the nutritional needs and preferences of the child as they grow older and to ensure that both the mother and child are comfortable with continuing breastfeeding. Awareness of cultural norms and expectations around breastfeeding in your community is also important.

7.

What Should I Do While My Wife Is Breastfeeding?

Men can do the following things while women are breastfeeding: 
- Offer Emotional Support: Breastfeeding can be challenging, especially in the early weeks, so it's important to be patient and offer emotional support to your wife. Encourage her, tell her she's doing a great job, and help her stay positive. 
- Help with Household Tasks: Breastfeeding can be time-consuming, so help with household tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry to give your wife more time to rest and bond with the baby. 
- Take Care Of The Baby: While your wife is breastfeeding, you can help take care of the baby by changing diapers, dressing the baby, and burping the baby after feedings.

8.

Why Do Men Enjoy Breastfeeding So Much?

As for why men love breastfeeding, it's important to note that not all men feel this way. However, some men may find breastfeeding erotic or enjoyable due to the physical sensation or intimacy. It's important to openly communicate with your partner about any concerns or preferences related to breastfeeding.

9.

What Is the Maximum Age for Breastfeeding?

The longest breastfeeding age varies widely depending on cultural and individual factors. While the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding with complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond, some mothers may choose to breastfeed their child for longer. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for at least one year or longer if the mother and baby mutually desire. Ultimately, the decision to continue breastfeeding and for how long should be based on the mother's and child's needs and preferences.

10.

What Is the Age Limit for Discontinuing Breastfeeding?

The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and continued breastfeeding with complementary foods for up to 2 years or beyond. However, the decision to breastfeed and the duration of breastfeeding ultimately depend on the mother and her baby's individual needs and circumstances.

11.

How Long Can a Woman Continue to Produce Milk?

Regarding how long a woman can produce milk, lactation typically continues as long as milk is regularly removed from the breast. However, as a child grows and consumes more solid food, the demand for breast milk may decrease, and lactation may naturally decrease.

12.

Is Breastfeeding Painful?

Breastfeeding should not be painful, but it can take time for a mother and baby to establish a comfortable and effective breastfeeding routine. If breastfeeding is painful, it could be a sign of an underlying issue, such as a poor latch or an infection, and it is important to seek support from a healthcare provider or lactation consultant.

13.

Why Don’t Most People Breastfeed?

There are many reasons why some people may choose not to breastfeed, including personal preferences, medical conditions, and cultural or societal norms. Some people may also face challenges with breastfeeding, such as difficulty with latching or low milk supply, which can make it more difficult to continue breastfeeding. Additionally, some people may need access to the support and resources they need to breastfeed successfully, such as lactation consultants or time off work to pump milk.
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Dr. Sonal Prasad
Dr. Sonal Prasad

Obstetrics and Gynecology

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breastfeeding
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