13 myths to bust about breastfeeding

This article exposes the most common fears and rumors related to breastfeeding. Questions that mothers and expectant mothers ask me every day and I answer by demonstrating whether they are rumors and false myths or not.

Breastfeeding is one of the topics on which many people who surround the new mother enjoy having their say, very often inappropriately. Everyone seems to know if the baby is hungry, if he is full, if he is spoiled, if he needs to be weaned and even what is the composition of mother’s milk.

It is a phenomenon that may seem amusing for a mother with an established breastfeeding but for a new mother all this puts her in crisis.
Let’s take a look at some of these myths:

1. Breastfeeding is a matter of luck

Breastfeeding is not a matter of luck but of physiology as we are mammals.

All women are physiologically predisposed, as we have a mammary gland and a pituitary connection, to produce milk in the quantity and quality suitable for their baby.
Statistically only 1 or 2 out of 10,000 women do not breastfeed due to physical or mental problems!
Suffice it to say that even mothers who adopt, if they stimulate their breasts in an appropriate way, can breastfeed.
During the entire pregnancy and above all after the placenta has come out, the breast completes its maturation and prepares for breastfeeding. As the levels of pregnancy hormones drop, the production of prolactin and therefore Colostrum begins. In reality, many women who are already pregnant already have Colostrum losses.

There are two reasons why a mother cannot breastfeed and therefore has no milk:

  • Poor breastfeeding management
  • An abnormality of the breast structure or glandular function.

2. Breastfeeding makes you fat

Breastfeeding requires an expenditure of about 500 extra calories per day . It is important, as in pregnancy, also in breastfeeding, to pay attention to the diet so that it is always healthy and balanced.
When breastfeeding, the woman does not need to eat for two because it has been seen that between the basal metabolic rate and the energy expenditure there is no difference between the breastfeeding woman and the one who does not breastfeed except 500 calories. But it is true that mothers who do not breastfeed in most cases remain overweight longer after giving birth . If you want to lose weight while breastfeeding, just do physical activity together with the baby, such as 45 minutes of walking a day for 5 days.

Talk to your midwife about it and together draw up a diet for this period. You will see that the extra kilos will go away effortlessly and without realizing it because breastfeeding is a determining factor in the loss of these and enjoy this moment.

3. During the breastfeeding period you need to drink at least 3 liters of water a day

False. It is very important to drink but the woman must absolutely not force herself . It is usually recommended to drink a glass of water before and after feeding. If you take excessive liquids, it is possible that there is a stagnation of these in the mother’s breast in front of the glands and can cause edema with consequent incorrect attachment and difficulty in sucking for the baby.

4. When the baby starts not respecting the times between one feed and another and eats every two hours and wakes up at night, it means that the milk starts to run out

A baby fed exclusively to the mother’s breast receives from this not only nourishment but by attaching itself to it, it quenches its thirst, relaxes, falls asleep, consoles. This means that it responds to many of the child’s needs and the frequency with which he asks for it does not make us determine if the milk is scarce or not very nutritious. Furthermore, the composition of breast milk varies from feed to feed and can be digested at different times throughout the day. Frequent awakenings at night are very important and physiological up to 3 years of age for the maturation of his nervous system and are a protection against cot death. Furthermore, during the night there are prolactin peaks which are essential to increase milk production. The breast is always able to fully satisfy the demand for one,

5. Legumes, peppers, dairy products and many other foods should be eaten in moderation because they favor colic in the newborn:

What creates the fermentation of the legume, of the peel of the pepper is the peel and this does not pass into the milk, instead the nutrients pass.

However, it has been shown that some proteins present in the mother’s diet can pass into her milk and cause or sensitize the baby to suffer from colic. These are cow’s milk proteins.

If you see that your baby suffers from colic, you can eliminate cow’s milk from your diet , thus avoiding eating fresh dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and ice cream. If this does not change your baby’s colic then try taking pancreatic enzymes.

Summarizing :

  • Eliminate all dairy products for 7-10 days.
  • If there are no improvements you can resume taking them.
  • If there are improvements, continue to eliminate them.
  • If your fear is not to take calcium, you should know that this can also be taken without drinking dairy products. It has been shown that nursing mothers are protected from osteoporosis even if they do not take calcium supplements. Your baby gets its calcium from your milk.

6. Breastfeeding Causes Hair Loss:

False. During pregnancy, hormones ensured that hair, nails and skin always looked great . Once the pregnancy is over there is a drop in hormones and therefore the hair that has not been lost is lost now.

Suffice it to say that hair loss also occurs in those women who breastfeed their baby artificially.

You just need to have the patience to wait for the exfoliation to return to normal rhythms. A natural remedy to help your hair is to take two 300mg tablets of brewer’s yeast at lunch and dinner.

7. Breastfeeding makes you short-sighted

This is simply an Italian only belief .

There are two reasons why myopia is associated with breastfeeding:

1) due to the increase in estrogen and progesterone it is possible that the thickness of the cornea increases and this leads to a focus defect, but it is a momentary situation and it improves with the end of this.

2) Before, people gave birth around the age of 20-25 when it was precisely at this age that myopia reached its peak and then stabilized.

Breastfeeding has absolutely no influence on myopia and  should only be considered a coincidence.

8. Both breasts should be used at each feed

Reality. It is important that a baby stays as long as he wants on one breast so that he takes all the compositions of the milk contained in it. Once he has detached on his own and is satisfied then he can be switched to the other breast if he still has hunger signals. Offering the breasts with each feed in the first few weeks helps the woman to increase her milk production.

9. Stress affects the amount of milk

Real. Stress, hectic life, very important worries can cause in very few cases, but there are, a low milk production even if the body defends this eventuality very well. It is really the ineffective suction and the incorrect position which does not allow adequate stimulation of the breast and therefore its reduction.

10. Pacifier use may interfere with breastfeeding

Reality. A pacifier teat if given to a baby who is learning to suck on the nipple can cause confusion and damage. The teat has a well-defined shape and therefore causes a very strong stimulation on the palate which activates the sucking reflex. The mother’s nipple, on the other hand, has a much softer shape and texture and the baby may not feel the same stimulus as in the case of the pacifier and may not suck effectively at the breast. Furthermore, it is the mother’s nipple that forms the palate of the infant with breastfeeding.

11. It is also important that the father feeds the child with a bottle so that a bond is created with him too

Nutrition up until the moment in which the child is not ready to be weaned and feeds only on mother’s milk is delegated only to the mother. The family members, the parent can create a bond with their child in many different ways such as picking him up, massaging him, carrying him in a band. These are very important things for its growth and well-being.

12. Breast milk after 6 months becomes bath water

Mother’s milk has the wonderful ability to adjust its composition

There are many myths surrounding new mothers. Breast milk is the best food for the newborn and not only from a nutritional point of view but also from an immunological and relational point of view.
Furthermore, breast milk alone up to the age of 2 of the child responds with help and support to his immune level which is still immature.

13. If the baby fidgets during a feed, it means that there is no more milk

During the moment of feeding, the baby can get agitated for many reasons and this does not necessarily mean that there is no more milk. The reason could be a little air in the belly (gastrocolic reflex) or even an excessive milk emission reflex (too much milk coming out of the breast at the beginning of the feed) or gastroesophageal reflux. Call a midwife to evaluate together what it is.

I advise future mothers who are already pregnant to approach and choose a good midwife and talk about breastfeeding together and I wish new mothers adequate support especially in the first period. Moms, don’t hesitate to ask midwives and milk consultants for help and create a support network among new mothers.

Kathryn Barlow is an OB/GYN doctor, which is the medical specialty that deals with the care of women's reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Obstetricians provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, while gynecologists focus on the health of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts. OB/GYN doctors are trained to provide medical and surgical care for a wide range of conditions related to women's reproductive health.

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