Busting the Myths Around Breastfeeding Through Scientific Knowledge
As is the case for many concepts running from the ages, breastfeeding is also a concept that faces myths and misconceptions, and this lack of understanding affects the practices of the common people. I aim to address some of these misconceptions that vary from generation to generation and from region to region.
1) Frequent breastfeeding leads to obesity in children in later stage of life: Various studies have proven that breastfeeding at recommended time intervals gives necessary nutrients to the child and boosts their immunity. Controlling food intake and regular exercise is important in all kinds of feeding. Obesity is linked to formula-feeding specifically and early introduction of solid foods in infancy.
2) Breast feeding can cause postpartum depression: Lack of family support, over-burdening workload and improper diet are the factors that lead to postpartum depression. Women with a prior history of depression are also at risk of developing postpartum depression. No association of breastfeeding and postpartum depression has been seen.
3) Breastfeeding can lead to low weight in babies: Studies have proven that insufficient weight gain in babies is due to improper milk intake and other health problems. Breastfeed is a complete package for babies for nutritional support which also provides natural laxatives to their bodies and enhances their immunity.
4) A mother should drink milk before breast feeding: A balanced diet comprised of vegetables, fruits, grains and protein is needed to produce milk. There are many sources of dairy products which provide calcium to the body. Calcium is good for the mother’s health but not mandatory before breastfeeding; a glass of water is, however, recommended before nursing the child.
5) It is not recommended to wake up a sleeping child: Newborn babies may not wake up often and tend to sleep more. In order to breastfeed properly, they should be awakened at least six to eight times a day.
6) Frequent breastfeeding can lead to poor milk production: Mothers should feed their baby at the recommended time interval, which is once every 2 to 3 hours. The milk supply will increase with the suckling of the baby on the mother’s nipple. Furthermore, it is important to remember that breastfeeding on demand is also encouraged.
7) All babies cannot digest the breastfeed: Mother’s milk is a natural milk that all babies can easily digest. If a baby shows any symptom of indigestion, it is usually because of foreign protein in the mother’s milk. This problem can subside by evaluating the mother’s diet.
8) Other family member who are mothers can also breastfeed the child: The baby should be provided milk only from their mother. There are many other ways to strengthen the bond between family members, such as playing, hugging and cuddling together.
9) A breastfeeding mother can eat as much as she likes: Eating as much as we like can only lead to poor health and do nothing for the well-being of the baby. Eating the right food is very important rather than over-eating.
10) Five to ten minutes are enough for one session of breastfeeding: Newborn babies who have suckling problems need a longer time to feed, while older babies can take the maximum amount of milk in the first few minutes. There is no common standard of time recommended for nursing a baby.
11) Don’t take any medicine while breastfeeding: It is true that one shouldn’t be taking any medication without advice from the doctor first. Some drugs can be harmful while breastfeeding. It is thus advised to consult the doctor before taking any medicine.
12) Breastfeeding helps the mother to lose weight faster: Breastfeeding doesn’t necessarily help the mother to lose weight faster. More importantly, it depends on the mother’s level of exercise and food intake.
Important Queries from Mothers Related to Breastfeeding:
The size of the mother’s breast makes no difference; every mother can breastfeed. The only women who shouldn’t breastfeed are those who are advised against it, for example, mothers with known HIV.
Mothers are free to take a balanced diet. Calcium sources such as dairy products, canned fish and plenty of fluids are especially recommended.
An infant who is being breastfeed adequately will pass urine six to seven times in 24 hours. In addition, weight gain of the child is the main key to assessing sufficient breastfeed intake.
In our society, where discussions about contraceptives, pregnancy and breast-related issues are considered taboo, misconceptions can lead to excessive stress, wrong practices and poor health of mothers and babies. There are many more myths which have been perpetuated for many centuries. Medical advice is necessary before adopting any practices.
If any problem occurs while breast feeding, it is recommended to consult a healthcare provider as soon as possible. It is a matter of early childhood development which should not be ignored on any level. Families, societies, communities, medical professionals and stakeholders should work together to spread awareness of its importance.
There is no doubt that Mother Nature knows best. There is evidence that breastfeeding reduces the incidence and severity of childhood infections like diarrhea, respiratory infections, and allergies. This article is only a small effort to spread awareness and hopes to encourage efforts to understand this topic even further among the masses.
The baby book by Sharon Maxwell Magnus & Dr. Mark Porterhttp://www.lll.org/nb/lvaprmay9821nb.html
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