Top 9 Breastfeeding Myths You Should Know About.
August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month—and while breastfeeding rates around the world and Nigeria in particular continue to rise, there’s still a lot that people don’t know about the topic.
Will my breast sag? Does it hurt? Will my child not be as smart if I don’t do it? What if my breast doesn’t flow?
Myth #1 : It’s better for baby’s weight and IQ
If you aren’t able to breastfeed your baby—or you decide not to—you can rest easy knowing that the beneficial effects of breast milk on babies’ weight and intelligence appear to have been overstated.
A 2014 Ohio State University study looked at families in which one baby was breastfed and another was fed formula and found no “breast-is-best” advantage in one child over the other. Though Mason says breast milk does have one clear advantage over formula: It contains antibodies that protect baby from infection.
Myth #2: It makes your boobs sag
One reason many women with breast implants don’t breastfeed (or stop earlier than planned) is because they think it will change the appearance of their breasts, according to a 2011 study from the American Society for Plastic Surgeons. But, as the study authors point out, it’s the number of pregnancies a woman has—not whether she breastfeeds—that causes breasts to sag over time. That’s true with or without implants.
Myth #3: Breastfeeding will come naturally.
“Breastfeeding is natural and normal, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy,” said Krista Gray, an international board-certified lactation consultant and founder of Nursing Nurture Lactation Services in Anderson, S.C. Even if it’s challenging for you, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth it or you won’t be able to do it. The key is to get support from a local breastfeeding support group or a lactation consultant.
Myth #4: Breastfeeding is birth control.
In many ancient cultures, breastfeeding was used to space out babies. Although it can suppress ovulation in some women, if you know anyone who has had a surprise, it’s not always a sure thing.
The progesterone-only mini pill is deemed safe during pregnancy but because it can affect milk supply, it’s a good idea to use a barrier form of birth control instead, Anderson said.
Myth #5: Once you go back to work, you’ll have to wean.
“If you commit to pumping, you can give your baby breast milk for as long as you wish,” Haldeman says. This involves pumping three times a day when you’re at work—preferably at the same times she would normally nurse—until your baby is 6 months old. After that, when she’s eating some solids, you can drop down to twice a day. (If you continue to nurse in the morning and at night, in addition to pumping twice, you should be able to maintain an adequate milk supply.)
Since pumping will probably consume most of your break and lunch times, keep a supply of nutritious snacks at your desk so you have the fuel you need to make milk. Haldeman recommends fruit, protein bars, nuts and the nutritional drink Ensure. Also be sure to drink plenty of water—at least eight glasses a day.
Myth #6: Breastfeeding your child for more than one year makes weaning difficult.
Truth: There is no evidence that nursing for longer than one year will make weaning more difficult than if you weaned earlier.
“Babies are individuals, and some just want to nurse longer than others,” Lauwers says. Some children give it up on their own at about 1 year of age, while others are content to nurse well past their second birthday.
Lauwers recommends that you consider weaning only when you and your baby are both ready for it. “But if you reach a point where you no longer enjoy it, you may want to consider weaning to avoid sending negative messages to your baby,” she says.
Myth #7: Feeds must be given at set intervals
Many believe that you must get your baby into a routine during breast feeding.
Facts: Breastfeeding must be frequently throughout the day and on demand by the baby. This is also beneficial for the mother, as it increases the production of breast milk.
Myth #8: Temporary stopping of breastfeeding because the mother is angry or in a bad mood
Others believe also that the breast milk becomes turbulent when the mother is emotional and not good for the baby because the mood can be transferred to the baby.
Fact: Stress, agitation and anxiousness can cause a decrease in the “let-down” reflex, which can cause a decrease in availability of milk, but it does not affect the quality of the milk. Mothers are therefore advised to get counseling on how to avoid these conditions so that milk availability is not affected.
Myth #9: Mother cannot eat garlic, onions, cabbage, chocolate or yellow vegetables
The believe that the baby won’t like the taste of milk if a mother eats things like onions, cabbage chocolate is not true.
Fact: Many mothers restrict their diets unnecessarily while they are breastfeeding.However, most mothers can eat any food they like in moderation without it causing a problem for their babies.
Some foods, such as garlic, may flavor the breast milk. A study found that, although breast milk may acquire a garlicky smell one to two hours after the mother had eaten garlic, the baby showed more interest in breastfeeding and took more milk. It is therefore very individual.
A mother who notices that her baby is “fussy” a little while after she has eaten a specific food, may avoid that food in future (she should, however, try to include the specific food again at a later stage to be sure).