For something so natural and so a part of being a woman and a mother, there are still many women who are surprisingly clueless and unaware of many of the myths and truths about breastfeeding. Especially if you are a pregnant or breastfeeding mom, so many little bits of information will be passed on to you and it can really get confusing weeding out what is true and which are myths.
Here is the lowdown on some of the common beliefs about breastfeeding.
1. Women with small breasts produce less milk - MYTH! This is one case where size does not matter! Breast size has nothing to do with the amount of breast milk a mother can produce during breastfeeding. A mom with small breasts may produce much more milk than that of a bustier mom, and the opposite could also be true. At the end of the day, the volume and amount of milk a mom can produce has nothing to do with the size of her breasts.
2. Breastfeeding is painful - MYTH! After the adjustment period where breastfeeding can be a little bit uncomfortable, breastfeeding should not be painful at all. Pain during breastfeeding usually results from a poor latch or improper positioning of the baby on the breast. Sometimes pain can be felt when a plugged duct or infection is present in the breast, but breastfeeding in general though should not cause pain.
3. Breastfeeding can help mom lose the pregnancy weight much faster - TRUTH! Breastfeeding helps moms burn 500-800 calories more, making it easier for mom to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight.
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4. Breastfeeding makes breasts sag - MYTH! Breastfeeding has nothing to do with breasts sagging. Though pregnancy and breastfeeding may change the shape and fat distribution of a mom’s breasts, they will redistribute and get back to normal after nursing has ceased.
5. Breastfeeding is a sure form of contraception - SOMEWHAT TRUE! Though exclusive breastfeeding usually does delay the onset of a woman’s menstruation and fertility, it is not a foolproof form of contraception.
6. Moms need to be on a special diet while breastfeeding - MYTH! It is true that what a mother takes in to nourish herself has an effect on the overall quality of milk, but there really is no special diet needed for breastfeeding moms. Taking spicy or gas-producing foods has no effect on most babies. Caffeine and alcohol can also be taken but in small amounts, since only a very small percentage is passed on to the breast milk. To be safe though, when taking caffeine or alcohol, wait a couple of hours before breastfeeding to even lessen the amount that can be passed on to the baby.
7. One breast contains milk and the other water to satisfy baby’s thirst - MYTH! There is absolutely no truth to this. Many may have heard from their Lolas or Manangs that the baby should take milk from both breasts because each contains a different liquid, but this is simply not true. The truth though is in the beginning of the breastfeeding session, a mother’s milk is thinner and more for quenching the baby’s thirst. This is called the foremilk. After the foremilk though comes a richer and more nutrient-filled hindmilk, so it is important that breasts be emptied out so that the baby can get both foremilk and hindmilk from each breast.
It is equally untrue that breastfed babies need to be given supplemental water. Breast milk is the perfect food providing not only the right nutrients but also enough water for baby for the first six months of life.
Offering both breasts should be done as much as possible though to prevent plugged ducts and to maintain good milk supply.
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8. Moms have to pump and dump after taking medications or after undergoing X-Rays and other medical scans - MYTH! Unless otherwise specified by the doctor, there is no need to pump and then dispose of breast milk after taking medicines or after having medical scans done. So long as moms are upfront with their doctors that they are breastfeeding, medicines that are breastfeeding-compatible are widely available now. Taking X-Rays and other scans have been found to have little to no effect on breast milk as well, so there is no need to pump and dump unless you are medically told to do so.
As with everything else in life, knowledge is power. Being well-informed and in the know about the topic of breastfeeding will only open up new and better ideas on how to provide and care for your baby in the best and most natural possible way.