Breastfeeding a baby is one of the most important decisions a mom can make. If they want to and are able to, the challenge begins. There are numerous rumors and myths that surround breastfeeding, and some can put women off. Some of these myths have no scientific basis whatsoever and should be ignored.
Every baby and mom is an individual and what works for some moms might not for others. Similarly, problems encountered by a friend might not present a challenge for another mom. The most important thing is that the mom and baby are happy with the method of feeding and that it is working for both.
Some moms take to breastfeeding like a duck to water, and others find it incredibly difficult. There is plenty of advice and support available if you are considering breastfeeding or experiencing problems while feeding. Rather than give up or dismiss the idea, it is valuable to get as much information as possible from experts. The benefits of breastmilk are well documented and can last a baby and a mom for a lifetime.
So, if mom is considering nursing her baby, make sure she gets the truth rather than get carried away by the stories that surround breastfeeding.
10 Things That Are Actually Backed By Science
20 Breastfeeding Helps Women Bounce Back After Pregnancy
When a woman is pregnant, her body hold onto what she eats to support the body during breastfeeding. As feeding commences, what was stored starts to be broken down. If a woman is eating a sensible, balanced diet, the body will shed the extra lbs that was accumulated during pregnancy.
Breastfeeding also uses up cals as the baby feeds. It is important to eat enough during breastfeeding to sustain you and the baby, and if you skip meals, it can affect the breastmilk, so it is best to aim for a slower loss.
19 Breastfeeding Helps Prevent Certain Major Health Issues For Women
According to The World Cancer Research Fund, breastfeeding can reduce a mom’s chances of developing breast cancer. This is because it reduces the number of hormones in the body that increase the chance of developing it, and gets rid of damaged DNA in the tissue. The onset can be delayed by up to ten years if a mother breastfeeds for six months or more.
Obviously, the figures are different if a woman smokes, but the risk is reduced by 4.3 percent for each year she breastfeeds after six months. Indeed, research has found that pregnancy and breastfeeding reduce the risk by reducing estrogen levels in the body.
18 Breastfeeding Helps Your Child’s Immunity
Not only is breastfeeding the perfect food for a baby, but it also helps to provide the necessary immunity that helps to protect the baby against certain ailments. A newborn baby will have a certain level of immunity from the placenta, but it is going to encounter all sorts of germs and bacteria as it is acclimatized to the outside world.
Breastmilk contains the friendly bacteria that help fight germs and also has a molecule that eliminates bugs. Breastmilk also protects against various fungi, parasites, and viruses, according to Healthy Child. All this comes for free in a very pleasing package!
17 Breastfeeding Gives Your Child a Better Chance of Being Healthy Later On
The NHS suggests that breastfeeding helps to protect a child against many health problems later in life. Apparently, the breastfed child learns to gauge when it is full better than a formula fed baby, so gets used to eating what it needs, and this learned behavior continues into adulthood.
There has been a theory about cardiovascular disease coming from the high concentration of cholesterol in breastmilk. This makes the baby’s liver more efficient at metabolizing cholesterol and this is believed to continue into adulthood as well. Breastfed babies are likely to have better teeth as adults.
16 Breastmilk Helps Protect Baby Against Allergies
Research does show that breastfeeding protects babies against allergies and asthma. It also puts off the introduction of cow’s milk and soy that can provoke an allergic reaction. Breastfeeding seems to reduce the chances of the baby developing an infection that can cause asthmatic symptoms.
It is also believed that secretory IgA that is present in breastmilk helps to line the baby’s intestinal tract and thus strengthen it against an allergic reaction, according to Baby Center. When this layer of protection is not present, inflammation can occur and affect the baby.
15 Breastfeeding Makes Mom Happier
When a baby sucks on the area to release milk, mothers experience what is called the ‘let-down’ reflex, as the milk starts to flow. This reflex produces the hormone oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, to flow into the mother’s bloodstream. This helps her to feel love and happiness, so she will benefit from these happy feelings as she feeds.
Oxytocin is known to be a strong antidepressant and can help lift a mother’s mood, especially if she is dealing with postpartum depression. Moms report happy feelings as they breastfed, counteracting some of the depressive symptoms that can occur after giving birth.
14 Breastfeeding Helps Prevent Unwanted Pregnancy
While moms can get pregnant while they are feeding, periods are delayed by exclusive breastfeeding. This can mean that the mom is not producing eggs and hence has increased protection against getting pregnant again.
It is only 98 percent successful, and this number assumes that the baby is being breastfed exclusively, is fed on demand and is under six months old. The percentage applies only to a mom who has not resumed her periods. The sucking on the area encourages production of the hormones that prevent ovulation, but the baby must be sucking hard several times a day for this to be effective.
13 You Can Breastfeed More Than One Child at Once
It is certainly possible to tandem breastfeed, or feed more than one child at a time. Moms report that they fed successfully through a subsequent pregnancy and that it was an enjoyable experience to feed a newborn and a toddler at the same time.
It is obviously a challenge faced more often by moms of twins or multiple births. Tandem feeding is also possible in this situation, although moms say getting the positioning right took a bit of time to establish!
Of course, it can be stressful when both children want mom, but there is a bond forged between the siblings that moms say is worth any challenges.
12 Breastmilk is Better than Formula in Many Areas
Breastmilk is often referred to as the ‘perfect food’, and indeed it is designed specifically for the needs of a newborn baby. It contains lactose and protein, all in forms that are easily digested by a newborn's tiny stomach. It also has all the vitamins and minerals, other than Vitamin D, that a baby needs.
Formula milk can never reproduce the exact components of breastmilk because it is a living substance that is made on demand and is dependent on the mother’s diet and lifestyle. Her milk will be ideally composed to suit her baby and its needs.
11 Exclusive Breastfeeding is Best for Baby for the First Six Months
The World Health Organization promotes exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life, and longer if possible. It suggests that breastfeeding up to the age of two is optimum. The longer a mom breastfeeds her baby, the greater the health benefits that the baby will receive. Obviously, it is a purely personal choice, but the medical view seems to be the longer the better.
In many parts of the world, it is common to feed a baby until it is two years old or more. After the baby is weaned onto solid food, breastmilk is a perfect supplement and any expressed milk can be mixed with initial weaning food such as baby cereal or purees.
10 That Are Total Myths
10 Myth: If you Have A Small Chest, You Won’t Make Enough Milk
Size has nothing to do with ability to nurse a baby. The tissue that produces milk within the area is often just the same, regardless of size. Indeed, women with smaller chests often find it easier to feed, as positioning the baby is less of a challenge, notes Breastfeeding-Problems.
The only problem that might be encountered by a smaller breasted woman is that they may have less storage capacity within the area. Therefore, they may need to feed more often. However, this is not always the case, each woman is individual, just as each baby is.
9 Myth: You Have To Eat Bland Food When You Breastfeed
There is no need to restrict your diet to eat just bland foods, as the baby will have been used to your diet during pregnancy, and the food that a nursing mother eats is well broken down before it gets to the baby. Some strong flavors may pass to the breastmilk, but babies are said to like some strong flavors like garlic or spices.
However, some moms prefer to test the theory out. If you like a particularly strong flavored food, it might be worth waiting for a day and seeing if the baby has a reaction such as extra gas or distress. That way it is possible to know which foods the baby doesn't like and these foods can be avoided.
8 Myth: You Have to Feed Every Couple of Hours to Sustain Production
This is not true, as each baby has their own individual feeding pattern. Some babies feed regularly, and some leave longer gaps. The milk will be produced on demand, so there is no need to worry about waking a baby if they have a longer gap than you are used to, they may just be going through a growth spurt and be tired.
If the girls get very full and uncomfortable, some milk can be expressed. This will provide a backup supply that can be frozen and relieve discomfort. More milk will still be produced when the baby wants to feed.
7 Myth: If you Give the Baby Expressed Milk, They Will Refuse
Feeding from a bottle and breastfeeding are very different procedures for a baby. Different muscles are used, and the sensation is different. However, it is possible to dual feed a baby, as long as breastfeeding is well established before a bottle is introduced.
Many babies feed on bottle and from the source successfully, although some moms say they had more success when limiting the baby to one bottle per day. Expressing milk and having the freedom to offer a bottle is a useful way to give your partner a chance to feed and also to give you a break and a chance to catch up on sleep, particularly on a night feed.
6 Myth: You Can’t Breastfeed if you Have a Blocked Milk Duct
Conversely, breastfeeding will actually help to ease blocked milk ducts, rather than provide a hindrance to feeding. Ducts can become blocked if a baby changes its feeding pattern and has a longer gap between feeds, so that the area become very full.
However, frequent nursing will help to clear the ducts and prevent an infection. Placing a hot, wet washcloth on the area can ease the congestion. If the blocked duct gets infected, moms will experience flu-like symptoms and need medical attention to clear the infection. However, it is still possible to feed the baby during this time without any adverse effects, according to Fit Pregnancy.
5 Myth: Breastfed Babies Never Sleep Through the Night Until They’re on Solids
This is not true. Babies are individuals and their sleeping and eating patterns vary enormously. Babies should not be weaned until they are ready, and they will start to show an interest in food and give other signs that they want to explore the world of solid food.
It is true that breastfed babies have a tendency to feed more regularly as breastmilk is digested more quickly than formula. However, sleep patterns are affected by many things, including the size of the baby, gas, or temperature of the room. It is not worth filling up a baby on formula just to get them to sleep. They will eat and feed as much as they want to.
4 Myth: You will Have to Give up Breastfeeding if You Go Back to Work
There is no reason to give up breastfeeding if a mom needs to go back to work. There is plenty of time to feed the baby outside of work and milk can be expressed so that the baby is still receiving the goodness of the breastmilk during the day.
It will involve pumping milk while you are at work and for some women, this can cause issues. Speak to your boss before you go back and see if you can organize three break times during the day when your baby would normally feed. Then you can express milk and keep it refrigerated until it is time to go home. A cool bag with ice packs is helpful to transport the milk home and keep it cool.
3 Myth: You Can’t Breastfeed if You Are Unwell
You don’t need to stop nursing if you are unwell. By the time you are experiencing symptoms, the baby will already have been exposed to the ailment. Feeding the baby will help pass on mom’s antibodies that are fighting the infection to the baby in the breastmilk.
2 Myth: You Can’t Take Any Meds While Breastfeeding
It is true that some medications can have an adverse effect on a baby when you are feeding, but this is not always the case. A very small dose of the medication will pass to your baby in the milk, but it should not be enough to cause any issues.
Medications such as antibiotics, antidepressants for postpartum depression, acetaminophen and ibuprofen are quite safe to take when feeding. MEDS containing codeine are not recommended, nor are some nasal sprays, according to the NHS. However, speak to your doctor before you take any medication and they can advise you if it is safe or not and if there is an alternative to any medication that might affect the baby.
1 Myth: Breastfeeding Makes a Child Too Clingy and Dependent
Lactation experts have found that this is not the case. Indeed, breastfed children tend to be very independent children and adults. There may be some clinginess when breastfeeding is stopped, but if you work with your baby and stop feeding when they are ready, there is no reason to think that the child will grow up to be more dependent than formula-fed babies.
Each child is an individual, and they will be secure, happy children if they are surrounded by love and security in the home. How the child is fed as a baby should not adversely influence this.
Sources: Theguardian, Askdrsears, Breastfeeding-problems, Cosmopolitan, NCT