Breastfeeding provides many health benefits to both the mother and child, but myths about breastfeeding in India abound, and it’s important to clarify what are the real facts. Here are seven myths about breastfeeding busted by a lactation consultant.
1) Myth #1: Breastfeeding is painful
Breastfeeding does not hurt. It may feel different than you expected and it might take some time to get the hang of it, but you shouldn’t be feeling pain.
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort, it could be due to a misalignment of the mother’s or baby’s anatomy or because your milk hasn’t come in yet. Seek out lactation counseling to find out what the problem might be and how to fix it.
2) Myth #2: You need to drink milk to produce milk
False. In fact, drinking too much cow’s milk can cause your baby to become lactose intolerant, which means they can’t digest the sugars found in cow’s milk. This can lead to digestive problems and diarrhea.
Additionally, the more you drink, the less your breastmilk will contain important fat-soluble vitamins that are essential for brain and eye development like DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid).
3) Myth #3: You need to stop breastfeeding if you have an infection
As with any family member, if the mother has an infection, the baby is likely to contract it as well. In itself, breastfeeding is unlikely to spread the infection to the baby, but it will pass antibodies that will aid the baby in fighting the infection and recovering faster.
If the mother has an infection, breastfeeding should not be put on hold. However, breastfeeding should be stopped for newborns if the mother has infections such as HIV, TB, human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I or II, and untreated brucellosis. You may also want to talk to a lactation consultant if you suspect that you’re suffering from an infection or illness.
4) Myth #4: Your baby needs water along with breastfeeding
This is not true. Babies need breastmilk for hydration and will get enough fluids from breastmilk alone. If you’re breastfeeding, your baby does not need to drink anything other than breastmilk. In fact, giving formula or any other drink to your baby instead of breast milk puts him at a higher risk of dehydration. A healthy breastfeeding baby will naturally drink what he/she needs from breast milk.
5) Myth #5: Before the first breastfeeding, you need to give your baby sugar water or honey
Traditionally, these substances are given before the baby has their first breastfeeding, but the substances are more harmful to the baby, as it increases susceptibility to infections, like infant botulism, respiratory tract infection, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), infection of the digestive tract, necrotizing enterocolitis, obesity, diabetes, childhood leukemia and lymphoma, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.
6) Myth #6: You can’t be on medication while you are breastfeeding
False. There are medications that are safe to take while breastfeeding, as long as your doctor approves. Some examples include ibuprofen and birth control pills. However, please read labels that provide instructions for women who are breastfeeding.
Several medications are prohibited during breastfeeding, as they might pass to the newborn through the milk. For questions or concerns, consult with a lactation consultant who will help you make the right decision for you and your baby.
7) Myth #7: A mother with small breasts will not be able to produce enough milk
This is not true. The amount of milk a mother produces is dependent on the baby’s demand for the milk, not the size of the breast. Infants sucking on the breast trigger the production of the hormones oxytocin and prolactin in the mother which results in increased milk production.
Differences in size stem from variations in fatty tissues and other glandular tissue around the nipple. Women with smaller breasts may have less glandular tissue but this does not mean that they will be unable to produce enough milk for their babies.
Breastfeeding is an important part of newborn care, and lactation counseling can help make breastfeeding work better for both you and your baby. If you’re looking for more resources or want to talk with a lactation consultant and paediatrician in Mumbai, please click this link to book an appointment with us.