Regardless of how much we progress or what changes happen around us, one ancient practice that stands as a pillar of life-giving nourishment is breastfeeding. It not only helps in the development of the child, it is also beneficial for the mother. While breastfeeding is an age-old practice that benefits both the mother and the child, there are several breastfeeding myths that people still believe.
Richa Bathla, Lactation Consultant & Women’s Health Physiotherapist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Faridabad, told Health Shots about 8 breastfeeding myths that you should stop believing.
Breastfeeding myths to stop believing!
Myth 1: Breastfeeding is easy
Breastfeeding needs time, support, and practice both for mothers and babies. A mother needs support and space both at work and at home as breastfeeding is a time-consuming process. While babies are born to latch their mother’s breast, many mothers need practical support to position their babies for breastfeeding and to make sure that the baby is attached correctly to the breast. We might have seen many mothers looking flawless while feeding their babies which looks quite natural and easy, but the fact is that breastfeeding is not always easy for all mothers.
Myth 2: You should wash your nipples before breastfeeding
It’s very necessary to maintain care for your nipples while breastfeeding but not necessary to wash your nipples before breastfeeding. The little bumps (Montgomery glands) on nipples produce oil that moisturises and protects the nipples. In fact, using soaps and gels can remove this natural oil causing irritation and dryness. What you should do is wash your hands before breastfeeding rather than washing your breast every time. You can use water to clean your nipples while taking a shower to maintain good hygiene but avoid using any kind of soap, talcum powder, or perfume, to clean it.
Myth 3: It’s normal to hurt during breastfeeding
Many mothers experience discomfort or pain in the first few days after delivery thinking that it’s natural or normal during breastfeeding. One must take care of attachment when we talk about sore nipples/cracked nipples which happens due to incorrect attachment. With the help of a lactation consultant or other professionals attachment and positioning can be corrected so that the mothers can avoid challenges like sore nipples or cracked nipples.
Myth 4: One should separate mother and newborn so that mother can relax
It is very important to give skin contact or Kangaroo mother care (KMC) to the baby immediately after birth. Maximum skin-to-skin contact induces Oxytocin secretion which ultimately helps in milk production (Prolactin) to release. So more skin-to-skin contact means more milk production. It also helps regulate body temperature prevent weight loss and helps the baby to fight against infection. So maximum rooming should be done for 24 hours immediately after birth.
Myth 5: One shouldn’t breastfeed if she is sick
If a mother is suffering from an infection like fever, cough, and cold she should continue breastfeeding as antibodies will be passed to the baby through feeding which prevents the baby from infection. It will also make the baby’s immunity stronger. However, mothers with conditions like Tuberculosis (TB), Covid-19, and HIV need to take guidance from a lactation consultant or other professionals about feeding. It is also necessary to take counseling at the right time so that feeding can be continued, if not directly then in other ways possible.
Myth 6: One cannot take any medicine if you are breastfeeding
It is very important to inform your doctor about any medication if your mother is lactating. One should take proper guidance about the right dosage, and time of taking medication. Though any medicine that is present in the blood will transfer to breast milk to some extent. Some medicines do so at some level and produce no risk to infants whereas some are present at higher levels in breast milk. Some medicines are safe and some are not safe while breastfeeding. In that case, a healthcare provider may recommend alternative medicine or may use medicine that does not affect milk supply during lactation too much. In certain conditions where breastfeeding has to be stopped temporarily, in that case, the mother’s milk can be expressed and stored and this stored expressed milk can be given once the mother starts taking that medicine.
Myth 7: If the mother goes back to work, she has to wean her baby
One may continue breastfeeding even after joining work. For this one, you need to check the policies in the workplace and also need the support of family members too. If a mother has the time and the right space in the workplace to breastfeed then she may go home or breastfeed her child or can give expressed milk to baby at home. If a mother doesn’t have the option to breastfeed during working hours, she can find the right place where she can express milk and give it to a baby or can directly feed it if she’s at home. Expressed milk is a good option especially for those who are working as this milk can be directly kept at room temperature for 5-6 hours and then later on, if not used can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Myth 8: Many mothers can’t produce enough milk
All mothers produce the right amount of milk for their babies. The amount of milk production depends upon how frequently the baby is latched, how long she is feeding, and the frequency of feeding done in a day. Proper support like breastfeeding guidance from healthcare providers, proper diet, and a healthy lifestyle affect milk production. One more important factor is Stress as it affects milk production directly or indirectly. A mother should never panic even if she has a pre-term baby and she is not able to feed her baby. Correct guidance from the healthcare provider may help to start feeding at the right time in regular intervals either directly or expressed through a breast pump which will not affect milk production.