Mother's milk is the best gift for a newborn. We ask an expert to address popular myths on breastfeeding and talk about common facts that every new mother should know.
By Leena Ghosh
The birth of a baby is an occasion for celebration for the entire family. But, it is also a time when new mothers get a lot of suggestions and advice from well-meaning friends and relatives. From how much a baby should feed to the diet a new mother must follow, there are many myths regarding breastfeeding.
Lactation consultant, Dr Sonali Santhanam, separates fact from fiction and busts some popular myths about breastfeeding. Here they are:
1. Myth: I can’t breastfeed when I take medication.
Very few medicines get into breast milk in concentrations high enough to affect the baby. If you need to take medicines while breastfeeding, ask your lactation consultant to work with your doctor to figure out the best alternatives.
2. Myth: I can’t breastfeed if I have mastitis or a breast infection.
You can breastfeed even with a breast infection. In fact, it’s important to continue feeding to keep your breasts empty. Sometimes, your baby may reject breast milk if it tastes salty. But, as long as the baby is happy to feed, mothers must continue to breastfeed.
3. Myth: Exercising when breastfeeding will make my milk sour and reduce my milk supply.
This is not true. Moderate exercise can boost your body’s metabolism and help produce more milk.
4. Myth: Babies may be allergic to the lactose in mother’s milk.
There is very little lactose in breast milk. However, there is a small possibility that a baby who is intolerant to cow milk protein may get exposed to it if the protein enters breast milk through the mom’s diet. In such cases, the baby may experience eczema, loose stools, blood or green mucous in stools, or show other signs of allergy.
5. Myth: If I bottle-feed my baby, she will develop nipple confusion and not latch to the breast.
While it’s true that babies may refuse the breast after drinking milk from a bottle, they do not do that because they are confused. When babies begin drinking from a bottle, they develop flow preference, as milk flows faster from a bottle. Therefore, they refuse breastfeeding because it takes more effort on their part.
6. Myth: Big breasts mean more milk.
That’s not true. Size does not matter.
Some more myths new mothers should know:
Breastfeeding is a skill that all new mothers need to learn. Following are some of the basics that first-time mothers get wrong at times:
"Breastfeeding is an instinctual and natural act, but it is also an art that is learned day by day" - La Leche League
Indeed, breastfeeding can be challenging at times and you get to learn something new about it all the time. But, do not get disheartened when you face hurdles. Talk to experts and to your doctor to seek help whenever you need it. After all, breast milk is the best milk and mothers always know what's best for their child!
Dr Sonali Santhanam is an American Board Certified Physical Therapist specialising in back pain and pelvic floor dysfunction. She has a Doctorate and a Masters degree from the University of Pittsburgh (USA). She is also a Certified HypnoBirthing Practitioner and Lactation Counsellor. A devoted mother of two, Dr Sonali’s perinatal programs support women from pre-conception to well after they have birthed their babies.
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