Breastfeeding Facts and Myths

Breastfeeding, it is the most important nutritional aspect that our babies require. In fact, breast milk is actually the only meal that the infant needs in its first 6 months of life- nothing more, nothing less( not even a drop of water, Amazing!). Despite, its undeniable advantages, there are still stereotypes and baseless lies linked to breastfeeding. These aforementioned factors lead to the development of hurdles (much like steeplechases) which curtail the practice of breastfeeding among mothers. I am here to tell you some of the common myths of breastfeeding that you may have fallen prey to, as well as to disclose the numerous advantages that come from breastfeeding your baby. Let us start off with the myths…

Myth 1

You should fatten up and eat way more than normal while nursing your baby. Well, this is controversially a myth, and this is why. A mother who is nursing should get more supplements like calcium and iron and a fair share of vitamins, proteins and carbs but she shouldn’t over-eat. Some say that your daily dietary intake should be no less than an additional 500 calories. This is false as eating a balanced diet will suffice.

Myth 2

A painful nipple is reason to stop feeding from that breast. This may seem reasonable but again, it’s a myth. The mother should not stop breastfeeding to ‘rest’ the breast but should seek medical care for the pain and find ways to ease the pain as the baby continues to feed from both breasts.

Myth 3

Breastfeeding is an expected process and as such it will develop naturally. Nothing could be further from the truth. Simply because one mother has no difficulties in breastfeeding, it doesn’t mean that many mothers suffer silently from inadequate milk production.

Myth 4

Newly born babies need to rest for a nap before they commence on breastfeeding. You would be making a costly mistake if you would adhere to this myth. The process of natural labor draws energy from both mother and baby. Unlike the mother, the baby’s energy stores are quite limited and it is recommended that they breastfeed within 30 minutes following birth- and then they can sleep for 8 hours.

Myth 5

With breastfeeding comes breast sagging. You may have heard you girlfriends mention how they had to drop their bra size after breastfeeding and you felt a feeling of anxiety set in. Well, you may breathe a sigh of relief-for now. Studies have shown that breastfeeding does not cause breast sagging. The fullness of breast is due the action of hormones that remain elevated until the child is weaned. Afterwards, they fall and the result in a feeling of sagging.

Let’s look at some little known facts about breastfeeding

Fact 1

For the first 6 months of your baby’s life all their energy requirements and thirst is met by breastfeeding. In addition, breast-milk contains important antibodies that protect your baby against infections, reducing deaths due to diarrhea by a factor of 7 and pneumonia by a factor of 5.

Fact 2

Breastfeeding helps to create a strong emotional bond between mother and child. Thus the baby feels securely attached to the mom. These babies are capable of recovering from a stressful event better than their counterparts who didn’t bond with their moms due to lack of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding also nurtures eye to eye interaction.

Fact 3

Initiating breastfeeding within an hour of birth helps to avoid excessive bleeding that accompanies vaginal delivery( post-partum hemorrhage). Studies have indicated that the uterus shrinks more when the mother breastfeeds her baby after birth thus containing the blood loss.

Fact 4

Breastfeeding is an effective contraceptive method if done correctly. Lactation induces a state of infertility and protects the woman from another pregnancy (especially in the first 6 months) so that the new baby can benefit from a period of sustained breastfeeding. However, for it to be 98% effective, breastfeeding has to be done several times a day.

Fact 5

Health benefits for mother and child. Children breastfed for 2 years have reduced incidences of developing Diabetes and other ailments like obesity. They also have higher IQ levels than those not breastfed. On the other hand, women who breastfeed appropriately are unlikely to develop breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

References:

World Health Organization

Public Healthcare Manual of Pediatrics
Breastfeeding Inc Canada