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LIFESTYLE

Breastfeeding: 15 myths new moms should ditch ASAP

Breastfeeding should be made more visible and should no longer be a taboo.

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated from August 1 to 7. It was made official in 1992 by the World Health Organization and UNICEF to raise awareness, promote and support this topic, which (unbelievably) is still taboo.

For many new moms (and those who are not), breastfeeding is not an easy practice, especially because women who breastfeed realize a reality that goes beyond romanticizing motherhood by generating a beautiful connection with their baby; it can also be painful, and demanding, and exhausting.

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Beyond that, and to open a debate of awareness, several moms have been responsible for making visible this important practice with their babies in order not to fall into misinformation about the myths of breastfeeding and at the same time to see their reality more naturally.

Breastfeeding myths

According to the official page of infant and child health of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP), these are the myths that all moms should ditch.

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1. I do not have enough milk to feed my baby

Breasts produce the necessary amount of milk to meet the baby’s demands, as long as the number of feedings is adequate and the sucking position is correct.

2. Breastfeeding deforms the breasts

Whether the mother breastfeeds or not, the main change occurs during pregnancy. In all women the breast changes depending on age, body fat, and genetic factors.

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3. I have to drink a lot of water and milk and eat more than usual

The mother’s milk production does not depend on the amount of milk you drink, so it is advisable to follow a balanced diet and drink liquids according to your thirst.

4. If I eat gas-producing foods, I will pass them on to my baby

The food consumed by the mother does not produce gas or colic in the baby.

5. I should not eat garlic, onion, or spicy foods while breastfeeding

Changes in the taste of milk, depending on the foods ingested by the mother, will help the baby to accept the new tastes when complementary feeding is introduced.

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6. I must have a fixed schedule for breastfeeding, otherwise, I am spoiling the baby

It is preferable to feed on demand without a fixed schedule. This way the baby decides when he wants to eat.

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7. Both breasts should always be given at each feeding

The first breast should be emptied well before offering the other so that the baby gets the richer fatty milk, which comes out last. Some babies take only one breast at each feeding.

8. My mother couldn’t breastfeed me, so I won’t be able to either

What determines how much milk you produce is how often you feed your baby. The more you breastfeed, the more milk you will produce. There is no hereditary factor, it depends on proper technique.

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9. If I have small breasts I will produce little milk

The breasts are composed of glandular tissue (where milk is produced), fatty tissue, and supporting connective tissue. The size of the breast depends more on the amount of fat than on the glandular tissue. So, the production of milk doesn’t depend on the size.

10. I cannot take any medication

Some medications should not be taken during breastfeeding, but others are safe. It is advisable to consult a doctor before ingesting any medication.

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11. My milk can be “cut off” if I get upset

Transiently, in situations of high stress, it may be difficult to let milk out. In these cases, it is necessary to put the baby on the breast frequently, empty the breast well and avoid the retention of milk that ends up decreasing the production.

12. It always hurts

At the beginning of breastfeeding, until adequate adaptation and correct sucking are achieved, it can be uncomfortable. Later, if there is pain, it indicates that there is a problem (infection, poor latch-on, etc.), so it is recommended to consult a doctor.

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13. I don’t have enough milk because too little comes out of the pump

The amount that comes out with a breast pump is usually less than the amount of milk available for the baby to express.

14. My baby wants to eat more, so I’m running low on milk

There are episodes of increased demand for milk from the baby that is called “breastfeeding bumps”. Also, sometimes the baby takes more feedings because of thirst.

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15. If I have mastitis (inflammation of the mammary gland), should I stop breastfeeding?

Milk from the affected breast has no harmful effect on the child. The infection is not transmitted to the infant, and continuing breastfeeding improves the evolution of mastitis.

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Benefits of breastfeeding

The association points out the following benefits of breastfeeding:

  • Protects the baby against common diseases in the short and long term.
  • It reduces the mother’s risk of cancer and other diseases.

WHO and UNICEF recommend the initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour after birth, exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life (with the incorporation of complementary foods and continuation up to 2 years of age or older.

It is important to always consult a specialist on the subject.

Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva

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