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Breastfeeding Myth Busters

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Expecting a baby?Congratulations!Planning to breastfeed? 

I am are sure you’ve heard a lot about breastfeeding – what a breeze it is, how difficult it is, how to time feeds, how not to time feeds, how painful it is, how downright good it feels, how convenient it is, how time-consuming it is. The list of contradictory information and advice can seem never-ending. 

There’s so much floating around about breastfeeding – some it true, some of it not-so-true, and some of it downright false. 

Here’s our guide to some of the myths you may encounter as you prepare to breastfeed your little one.



1. Breastfeeding always comes naturally. FALSE!

Breastfeeding is natural and biologically normal, but something of a lost art in today’s world as many of us have grown up without seeing breastfeeding taking place around us. Mums may need a bit of help, so don’t be afraid to ask.

2. Breastfeeding is supposed to hurt. FALSE!

If it still hurts after a few seconds, gently take baby off and reattach paying careful attention to positioning. If pain persists beyond the first week, don’t wince and bear it – get help.

3. A baby’s feeds should be strictly scheduled. FALSE!

Babies need to feed when they are hungry. This is essentially their body’s natural signal that they need to eat. Otherwise they risk not getting enough nutrition, and mum’s milk supply may be affected.

4. Many mothers cannot produce enough milk. FALSE!

If the baby is attached well and is fed on cue, almost all mothers will make enough milk for their babies.

5. Just one bottle can’t hurt. FALSE!

Even one bottle, when a baby is very small, may result in a loss of the ability to breastfeed effectively. If formula or donated breastmilk are used, the corresponding drop in demand can also affect mum’s milk supply.  Lactation consultants recommend waiting until supply and breastfeeding are well established, at 6-8 weeks, before offering a bottle.  In addition, if formula is given to a young baby, this can upset the baby’s gut bacteria which can have long-term health effects.

6. Breastfeeding mothers need a special diet to make milk. FALSE!

A mother should eat when hungry and drink when thirsty. That is all.

7. A breastfed baby needs water in hot weather. FALSE!

Breastmilk is both food and drink, and meets all the requirements of a baby. In hot weather a baby may need to breastfeed more often, but water should not be given as this will reduce the amount of breastmilk (and hence nutrients) the baby consumes.

8. Breastfeeding should stop when solids are introduced. FALSE!

World Health Organization guidelines, based on research in both developing and developed countries, are that breastfeeding should continue alongside solids (when introduced at around six months) for at least two years, and beyond – for as long as mother and baby wish.  The right time for each mother and baby to wean will be different.

9. A mother with mastitis should stop breastfeeding. FALSE!

This would be the worst thing to do. Continuing breastfeeding is important in the treatment of mastitis, and it does not harm the baby.

10. You can’t breastfeed while pregnant. FALSE!

Many mothers safely breastfeed into, and throughout a subsequent pregnancy. Mothers may choose to tandem-nurse both children together, after the younger one is born.  However you may find that after the first few months your supply takes a dip and, if your baby is still young, supplementation with formula or donated breastmilk may be necessary until your supply kicks back in after the birth of your younger child.


 

Not sure whether you’re getting reliable, evidence-based information?  Look for information from a board-certified lactation consultant or registered breastfeeding counselor.  They are well-trained and required to keep up-to-date with current research into breastfeeding and lactation.  Or write to us, and we’ll check out the suggestions you’ve been given.

 

 

Photograph credit: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

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Contributed by Sian

Sian is a devoted mother of two children and a registered Breastfeeding Counselor with the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers. She is a founding member of Breastfeeding Q&A in the UAE, a peer support group for breastfeeding mothers. You can find her articles in the Gulf News and ABM:the magazine of the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers.

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