10 popular myths about breastfeedingBODY See all BODY posts
How important is the natural nutrition for newborn babies and is it dangerous to make compromises with it? Misconceptions on this subject are constantly growing, and it gets more and more difficult to find the truth about breastfeeding in the sea of information on the Internet.
Breastfeeding is something that in theory everyone understands – mothers, grandmothers, friends, neighbors, and various medical professionals. The lack of accessible and reliable information, as well as the prevalence of serious misconceptions about natural nutrition is a serious problem that drags behind the mother. And she sometimes finds herself in a situation from which the exit can be difficult.
In the next few minutes we will go through 10 popular myths about breastfeeding, try to break some of them, and understand what lies behind them.
Myth 1: No need for preparation, breastfeeding is something completely natural and there’s no way it won’t work
Yes, it is natural …
But as for some women conceiving a baby can be difficult, so the breastfeeding may sometimes not happen as easily as it happens with other mothers. There are various internal and external factors that can make it difficult and sometimes even impossible.
Good preparation before the delivery gives a high chance of success. Meetings with lactation consultants are extremely useful for a successful start and solve the problems, that might occur afterwards. During these meetings various situations in the course of breastfeeding are being discussed as well as possible solutions.
Myth 2: Breast milk comes 2-3 days after the birth, so there is no reason the baby to be immediately latched on the breast
Yes, the “descent” of the breast milk typically occurs in 2-3-5 days, but colostrum begins to form at the moment of separation of the placenta from the uterus, i.e. immediately after giving birth.
Colostrum is fundamentally important for the baby – it is the first passive vaccine for the newborn, protecting it from the huge number of pathogens in the environment. It contains unique proteins that “spreading out” into the digestive system of the baby reduce the likelihood of passage of inappropriate substances into its body and it also promotes excreting meconium – the first baby feces. Colostrum contains growth factors that promote maturation of the still imperfect nervous system of the baby, including the vision.
And last but not least – it is in perfect amount for the newborn baby. After birth baby tummies are as big as a cherry and it is not right to consume large volumes of liquids. The frequent breastfeeding in the first days after birth, before the formation of larger amounts of mature milk, allows the mother and baby to “adjust” to each other, and the breastfeeding to be easier when the breasts are filled with milk.
Myth 3: The cesarean delivery is a guarantee for breastfeeding problems
Yes, studies show that the time for “descent” of the mature milk in mothers who delivered by cesarean is a few hours longer than mothers who gave birth naturally.
But this does not apply to the formation of colostrum. It is available immediately, unless the mother has experienced a very severe delivery with a severe blood loss. Therefore, the baby can immediately be latched on the breast. The skin-to-skin contact is very important and the mother should use the first opportunity to make it.
Myth 4: Premature babies must first learn to drink milk from a bottle and then learn to breastfeed
Yes, breastfeeding and maintenance of lactation with premature baby is a serious challenge.
But studies have shown that even babies under 1500 grams can be placed on the breast. The sucking reflex develops after 32nd week of gestation and is fully active after the 36th week. For the premature babies it is extremely important to have a solid physical “skin-to-skin” contact with the mother, maximum sustained during the day, so they can learn to suckle on the breast. There are various specialized devices (systems for supplementation of the breast) that help premature babies to receive the proper quantity of breast milk, without the use of pacifiers and bottles.
Myth 5: The breast operations – for breast reduction or enlargement, interfere with breastfeeding
Yes, sometimes the operative incisions are made so, that they might intersect and interrupt a milk duct.
This is usually not a problem and often by correct positioning of the baby on the breast and with a little help from a lactation consultant the breastfeeding goes smoothly. The modern technique of putting implants beneath the muscle and incisions in the area of the armpits lead to minimal damage to glandular tissue and the amount of milk.
Myth 6: The relationship breast milk – nutrition of the mother
Yes, there is a connection – but it is very little and is linked solely to the influence of the intake of unsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 for example) – The more the mother consumes foods rich in omega-3, the higher their concentration in the milk and therefore more benefits for the baby.
There is no study to prove that the mother should not consume beans, cabbage, lentils, so the baby doesn’t have colic, or should drink milk or tea for nursing mothers or whatever else in order to have milk.
A prudent diet with balanced intake of carbohydrates, proteins and fats is a prerequisite for a healthy mother with a good weight. It might sound surprising, but nursing mothers need only 400-500 kcal per day in addition to their usual daily calorie intake. For example, a slice of whole grain bread, a cup of yogurt and a banana are sufficient. The strong desire of relatives to “strengthen” the nursing mother with more food only leads to increased weight, which is difficult to get rid of afterwards.
Myth 7: Nutritional and non-nutritional breast milk
Yes, a surprisingly persistent myth that can be heard even from medical specialists is that the breast milk of a mother is “non-nutritional”.
Breast milk has surprisingly constant composition. And it is ideal for the baby, both in a malnourished mother in Somalia and in an overweight mother in the United States. Nature has created the breast milk so, that the baby can grow maximal regardless of the deficits of the mother.
Perhaps this myth has at its core the idea that if the baby is not gaining weight well, it should be because the food has not enough “quality”. In fact, most often just the quantity is not enough and there is no problem with the quality of the breast milk. Another possible explanation for this myth is that at the beginning of the breastfeeding breast milk seems a bit more transparent (described as watery), compared to the end of the breastfeeding. This is due to the gradual increase in the amount of fats in the course of emptying of the breast, rather than a change in quality of the milk.
Myth 8: The infant formulas are very similar in composition to the human breast milk
Yes, both milks fill the baby’s tummy.
For better or worse the human breast milk can not be even imitated. The main reason is, because it is a living fluid, it contains living protective cells that protect the baby, it contains a large amount of antibodies, many growth factors and other biological components that can not be copied. Infant formulas contain processed cow milk, that is a genetically alien baby protein. If you take a close look at the composition of a randomly selected infant formula, you will find that it contains fish oil, potassium hydroxide, maltodextrin, corn and rapeseed oil … Interesting, isn’t it?
Myth 9: Breastfeeding is the best for the baby, but feeding with infant formulas is also not bad
Yes, there are situations where feeding with infant formula can be life-saving.
But mothers should be informed that the breastfeeding is not “the best”. It is natural nutrition, it is the standard and the norm.
Feeding with infant formulas has its risks that every mother should be well aware of, before she offers it to her baby. Best described is the increased risk of infections – otitis, pneumonia, gastrointestinal infections. Increased is also the risk of obesity, type 1 diabetes (during childhood) and type 2 diabetes (as adult), and certain types of cancer in childhood. In premature babies – the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis is from 6 to 10 times higher, if the baby is not fed with breast milk.
Myth 10: Breast size is essential for the milk supply
Yes, a larger size of the breasts is usually due to more fat.
But the milk is formed by the glandular tissue in the breast. Therefore is of little importance how big the breast is, but whether the glandular tissue in it is well developed. Usually during pregnancy breasts increase in size at the expense namely of the glandular tissue.
The proper placement of breast and the frequent breastfeeding, led by the baby are mandatory for good and adequate to the baby needs milk supply.
Some more benefits of breastfeeding
In the infographic from Positive Health Wellness below, you can see some more benefits of breastfeeding, not covered above, namely that it might make your child smarter, it helps uterus contract and get back to it’s normal size and that it lowers the risk of postpartum depression.
So, if you have ever had doubts and worries about breastfeeding, forget about them and give your baby the opportunity to eat the food that nature has created for it.
Forget about infant formulas or how your boobs will be hanging after this. It’s not worth it to put your baby at risk. Because the producers of these infant formulas might sometimes look only after their profits and not the health of your baby. Do you remember the Chinese milk scandal where melamine was added in infant formulas to simulate higher levels of protein? Have never heard of it? – check then here to see what this has cost some parents.