August is observed as World Breastfeeding awareness month. Breastfeeding has innumerable health benefits both for the child and the mother. Improving awareness around this practice can be a great way of encouraging breastfeeding among mothers and enhancing nursing rates. Breast milk is a wholesome substance containing antibodies, which protects the baby from bacteria, viruses and common ailments. Although breastfeeding is directly associated with wellbeing, from the very beginning of the child’s life, there are several common misconceptions around this practice.
Here are the most common myths surrounding Breastfeeding, which need to be busted!
Myth 1: It’s painful!
Fact: A lot of women may find breastfeeding slightly painful initially. They may even feel soreness but this is only the result of an improper latch and it is entirely preventable. Thus, it is extremely essential to talk to a lactation consultant or specialist before the delivery. This will ensure that the process of breastfeeding is carried out correctly and comfortably.
Myth 2: Breastfeeding is a form of birth control.
Fact: Although breastfeeding does suppress ovulation, it cannot be used as a reliable method of birth control. However, if one is breastfeeding exclusively, the baby is younger than 6 months and if one’s menstrual cycle hasn’t resumed, then the lactation amenorrhoea method is 98% effective in preventing pregnancy. But even then, it is not a foolproof method of contraception.
Myth 3: Breastfeeding may cause sagging and alterations in shape and size of the breast.
Fact: It is true that pregnancy may affect the size and sensitivity of your breasts, but breastfeeding alone has no effect. On the other hand, breastfeeding actually protects the breasts and reduces the risk of breast cancer in women.
Myth 4: If you bottle feed the baby, it will refuse breastfeeding.
Fact: It is advisable to not introduce bottle feeding in the first 4-6 weeks as the baby may get accustomed to it and develop a preference since it is slightly easier. But after the average stipulated time, the baby will be able to switch between breast and bottle feeding with ease.
Myth 5: If the baby feeds a lot, it is not getting adequate milk.
Fact: Every baby is different and has a unique consumption pattern. Breast milk is very easy to digest as opposed to formula feeding and it is absolutely normal for the baby to feed every 2-3 hours.
Myth 6: Small breasts don’t produce enough milk.
Fact: Size does not matter. The breast tissue required to nurse the baby grow and function during pregnancy regardless of one’s breast size. The milk ducts which produce the milk are located in these tissues rather than the fatty tissue which is responsible for the breast size. Hence, a woman can produce the milk her child needs irrespective of her breast size.
The richest form of nutrition, breastfeeding is the foundation of a child’s healthy development. The practice must be respected and fostered globally.