August 1st – 7th is observed as World breastfeeding week every year with the aim to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies all over the world.
Although there is a lot of awareness about the health benefits of breastfeeding for the baby as well as the mothers, there is an equal number of misconceptions associated with breastfeeding. Thanks to relatives, grandmothers, cousins, and aunties, who give loads of advice on what to do and what not to do when it comes to breastfeeding. However, due to the lack of professional inputs, new moms are confused and fail to distinguish between myths and facts.
This world breastfeeding week, let’s debunk some of the common breastfeeding myths and shed light on why it is important to breastfeed.
7 Common Breastfeeding Myths!
Myth 1: Your breasts will sag if you breastfeed.
Fact: This is one of the common misconceptions that prevent most mothers from breastfeeding. The truth is that the size of the breasts increase during pregnancy and it does add on to the pressure on the ligaments that support the stress. So whether you breastfeed or not, with age, weight, and post-pregnancy, sagging of breasts does happen.
Myth 2: Breastfeeding acts as a birth control measure.
Fact: Few experts state that breastfeeding acts as natural contraception. It is known as the lactational amenorrhea method or LAM, which means not being able to menstruate when breastfeeding. It is based on a simple principle that when you breastfeed your baby exclusively, you do not ovulate and thus, the chances of getting pregnant are less, especially during the first 3 months of nursing. However, this option is only 98% effective, so you may need to consult your gynecologist about other methods of contraception.
Myth 3: Women with smaller breasts produce less breast milk.
Fact: This is completely false as the size of the breasts doesn’t affect the production of breast milk. In fact, the production of milk is determined by the stimulation of the mammary glands and proper latching of the kid while feeding. Moreover, the size of the breast is determined by the presence of the fatty tissue and not the tissue where milk ducts are present.
Myth 4: Moms need to nurse the baby round the clock.
Fact: Not really. Just like adults, even babies have their own eating patterns, which can vary from 45 minutes to every 3 hours. The point here is not how often you should feed but feed when your baby is hungry (on demand). Hence, it is not about feeding every 2 hours but how much feed your baby needs.
Myth 5: It doesn’t matter if you are on medication, you can breastfeed.
Fact: This is partially true as not all medications are safe to be consumed while breastfeeding. This is the reason, why on certain medicines it is written as not to be taken during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The active components of certain medications can be found in mother’s milk, although the concentration is comparatively less. If you have a doubt about the medicines you are taking, it is wise to discuss with your gynecologist and know about the contraindications (if any). Here are 7 Things That You Must Be Aware Of While Breastfeeding.
Myth 6: Mothers should not nurse if they have blocked ducts.
Fact: One of the key reasons for blocked ducts is the excessive accumulation of milk in the milk ducts, which can lead to blocked ducts. The best way to treat the condition is to nurse the baby as often as possible. Breastfeeding can prevent blockage of the ducts and also prevent infections. Additionally, apply hot fomentation before nursing as it helps in relieving the pain. Also, do consult your gynecologist if you have an infection.
Myth 7: Breastfeeding causes pain and sore nipples.
Fact: If your baby latches on to the breast properly while breastfeeding, then the possibility of breast pain and sore nipples is very low. Ask your doctor, nurse or lactation consultant about the right way to hold and position your baby to help your baby latch properly. The pain and discomfort caused due to improper latch while nursing can be easily prevented.
Breast milk is undoubtedly good for the babies as it is loaded with all the essential nutrients needed for the growth and development as well as protect a baby from diseases and keep him/her healthy. Breastfeeding is considered to be beneficial for both mothers and kids. It is revealed that breastfeeding can help save around 8,00,000 lives every year, especially of those under six months. In mothers, it not only decreases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer but also prevents 20,000 deaths every year caused due to breast cancer.
Given the numerous health benefits of breastfeeding for both kids and mother it is important to spread awareness about breastfeeding and debunk the common myths. This World Breastfeeding Week let’s join hands to do our bit to make new moms aware of the importance of breast milk for babies by sharing this article. If you have any queries related to breastfeeding, then do let us know in the comments section below.
With inputs from Dr. Mayur Dass, Consultant Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)
1. World Breastfeeding Week 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO)