7 Myths about breastfeeding that every parent should know

7 Myths about breastfeeding that every parent should know

Myths about breastfeeding are more pervasive than we think. Read about the seven most common myths about breastfeeding in India.

A lot has been said and written about breastfeeding. There are some age-old nuske that our grandmothers still insist on. My grandmother was, fortunately, a smart woman. She had five daughters and raised them independently. While doing so, she figured out the importance of breastfeeding and educated her daughters as well, when they were pregnant.

But, this evidence would be anecdotal. As a parent, you should believe in the highest possible evidence available: things that are proven scientifically, repeatedly and universally. There are a lot of myths surrounding breastfeeding even today in India, and you need to know the facts from the myths.

Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI) is an organisation that has collected evidence about breastfeeding and nutrition for over two decades. Here are the seven most entrenched myths in our country according to BPNI.

Myth #1: Colostrum, the sticky milk secreted during the first few days should be discarded as it is not true milk.

Fact: Colostrum is gold! It contains all the stuff needed to build up your child's immunity. UNICEF recommends early latching for this huge benefit. Colostrum or the first milk is vital. Ignore all those who say otherwise.

Myth #2: Babies need to be given honey, sugar water or sweetened water before the first milk to welcome them in the world.

Fact: Babies do not need anything other the breastmilk for the first six months of life. The foremilk quenches their thirst, and the hindmilk satisfies their hunger.

Honey, sweetened water would expose them to infections. You do not want to do that.

Prelacteal feeds are NOT necessary.

Myth #3: Small breasts produce less milk

Fact: Milk production has nothing to do with the size of the breast. Milk is produced by milk glands. The size is determined by the fat in the breast. Both are separate entities.

The milk production depends on the need of the baby. When the baby suckles, the milk production improves. In fact, as long as the baby is feeding properly, you need not worry about the quantity of the milk.

Check the poop. It should be mustard coloured with a cheesy consistency. If the poop is yellow, the baby is well fed.

Myth #4: If a pregnant mother breastfeeds then the baby in the womb may be harmed.

Fact: Ideally, there should be a gap of at least two years between the two kids. If you find yourself pregnant and are still breastfeeding, continue to do so.

According to BPNI, A normal mother can continue to breastfeed up to the last trimester of pregnancy, and if she so chooses, even after the birth of a new baby. This is called tandem feeding. She should, however, ensure good nourishment for herself. A pregnant woman with a risk of premature labour should not breastfeed during pregnancy.

Read on for more myths

Myth #5: Malnourished mother produces lesser quantities of inferior quality milk.

Fact: The body is an amazing creation. Pregnancy makes it even more so!

Whatever nourishment the child gets, it is at the expense of the mother. If the child needs more milk, even a malnourished mother would be able to produce it.

The quantity and quality of milk are not affected by the state of nutrition. Foodstuffs would not make your baby gassy. They are not thanda or garam for the baby. Trust me; there is no scientific evidence to support this.

As long as the foodstuff is healthy, it can be consumed. Mothers should eat nutritious meals.

Myth #6: Mother should not breastfeed the baby when she is ill.

Fact: Most of the mothers would be able to nurse the babies even when they are ill. The only worry is when you are taking medicines for the illness. There are a few medicines that are secreted in the breast milk, and so, some temporary arrangements are necessary.

Common illnesses like cold, cough, fever should not stop you from feeding your baby. As long as you can, you should.

If the nature of the illness is serious, though, one needs to talk to the doctor.

Myth #7 If a child cries excessively it means that mother has less milk & hence mother should start feeding top milk.

Fact: If the baby demands more milk, the mother would be able to match the demand in 24 hours. Low milk supply or difficulty in suckling would make the baby fussy, but so would a few more reasons. You need not supplement breastfeeding with anything else.

Remember, as long as the poop is yellow, there is an adequate number of wet and soiled diapers, your baby is good.

Breastfeeding is a natural thing, but it is not necessarily the easiest thing you would be doing, especially if this is your first child. The stress of delivery, caring for the newborn affects the letdown. Don't let these myths hamper you from feeding your baby properly. Don't let them stop you from eating good and tasty food either!

Also read: UNICEF: Breastfeeding within first hour of birth is the baby’s “first vaccine"

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(Image courtesy: W3livenews.com)

Written by

Anay Bhalerao

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