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10 common myths about breastfeeding debunked

Baby Care - By Audrey Masitsa | August 4th 2020 at 10:38:49 GMT +0300
Breastfeeding helps mother and child to bond (Photo: Shutterstock)

Breastfeeding is beneficial for both mother and child. It helps build the baby’s immune defences as well as providing nutrition. Breastfeeding also gives mum and baby an opportunity to bond.

Nevertheless, there are many myths surrounding breastfeeding from the detriments of breastfeeding for too long to how easy it is to breastfeed. These dos and donts about breastfeeding are bound to leave you feeling confused and discouraged.

Let’s look at some of these below.

Myth 1: Some mothers can’t produce enough milk to sustain their babies

According to Unicef, a mother should be able to produce enough milk to adequately feed her baby. However, certain factors can reduce how much milk you produce. These include if the baby has latched well onto the breast, how frequently the baby is breastfed and if the baby is able to remove sufficient milk during each feeding.

Myth 2: Breastfeeding is easy

Unless you’ve tried it, you might not understand how difficult it is to breastfeed, especially as a new mum. Whereas babies naturally seek their mother’s breast immediately after birth, it takes practice and patience to get it right. You need to hold the baby in the right position, ensure they are latched properly, and the mother needs to be in a comfortable environment. Adequate support from family members as well as practical lessons on positioning and attachment will make the process easier.

  2. 1. Why new parents should have confidence to stick with breastfeeding, Dr Mirriam Stoppard
  3. 2. How new mums can make breastfeeding easier, LactaMama founder Angel Waithera
  4. 3. Woman left in tears over father-in-law's 'gross' comment about breastfeeding
  5. 4. Ask the doctor: Can expressed breast milk be stored for more than one day?
Ensure your baby is used to breastfeeding before you introduce the bottle (Photo: Shutterstock)

Myth 3: You must wash your nipples before breastfeeding

We’re all very keen on maintaining good personal and overall hygiene particularly during the ongoing pandemic. However, it is not necessary to wash your nipples before you breastfeed the baby. Nipples produce a substance that draws the baby to them, to put it plainly. They also contain healthy bacteria that help to boost the baby’s immunity.

Myth 4: You have to change your diet during breastfeeding

While some foods have been known to increase breast milk, you don’t need to change your diet when you are breastfeeding. Remember, your baby has been eating the same food as you have since they were in the womb thus, they are used to it. All you need to do during this time is eat a well balanced diet to keep up your nutrition and that of the baby. If you do, however, notice that your baby is reacting to something you ate, speak to your doctor.

Myth 5: It’s normal for nipples to hurt during breastfeeding

You might experience some discomfort when you first start breastfeeding. Your nipples might hurt a little in those first few days but this should pass quickly. Pain during breastfeeding is often caused when the baby doesn’t latch well or isn’t positioned properly. If you experience any pain that doesn’t go away during breastfeeding, ask for help on the correct way to position and latch your baby.

Myth 6: Breastfeeding will make your breasts sag

Weight gain, pregnancy, gravity as well as your breasts filling up with milk during lactation can make your bust larger. However, as you get into a breastfeeding routine or stop altogether, your breasts will go back to their pre-pregnancy size. Thus, if after weaning you either lose or put on some weight, the shape and size of your bust will change.

Correct positioning and attachment will alleviate any discomforts (Photo: Shutterstock)

Myth 7: You can’t breastfeed after having breast enlargement or reduction surgery

New procedures in breast augmentation now make it possible for mothers to breastfeed. Implants are now put nearer the armpit, under the breast tissue or chest muscle hence they don’t interfere with the nipple and as a result, breastfeeding. Surgeries in which the nipple is removed, partially or completely, in order to insert or remove the implant, and then it [the nipple] is reattached can interfere with the let down reflex needed for breastfeeding.

Myth 8: Babies who bottle feed will refuse to breastfeed

If you wish to switch between a bottle and the breast, ensure you breastfeed exclusively for six weeks first so that your baby gets used to the breast before you introduce a bottle. Restricting the number of times you bottle feed will also enable your baby to comfortably switch between the bottle and the breast.

Myth 9: Breastfeeding can prevent pregnancy

Having unprotected sex can get you pregnant. Nevertheless, chances of conceiving are reduced if your period hasn’t come back post-childbirth, you breastfeed every two to three hours and are within the first six months of breastfeeding.

Myth 10: You should stop breastfeeding if you have a blocked duct or infection

Blocked ducts are often caused by overfull breasts or when breastfeeding patterns change for instance at the onset of weaning or when baby starts taking longer naps. To clear a blocked duct, breastfeed often, apply heat on the breast before nursing, and wear a bra that isn’t too constricting. Your doctor should be able to treat a breast infection even as you continue to breastfeed.

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