As every woman steps into motherhood with lots of doubts and insecurities, they are bombarded with advice from every person around them. It is common to wonder which of them are true and which are not. Most advice creates a feeling of inadequacy in the mother towards meeting her baby’s needs thus pushing her to introduce “top feeds” or formula feeds. Let us take a walk through the common myths surrounding breastfeeding and see what the real truth is.
Common myths and Facts:
Breastfeeding makes the mother lose her shape and form:On the contrary, everytime the baby is breastfed, the uterus contracts slowly towards its pre pregnancy size and the extra fat stored throughout pregnancy is released into the milk thus making the mother slim down rapidly. Hence breastfeeding is the most inexpensive and effortless way of weight reduction.
Babies can be smothered or can choke if fed lying down: Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) by 50 percent and can be done at any position of convenience to the mother.
Baby should sleep for 3 to 4 hours if fully satisfied with the feeds and if they sleep less, then the feeds are insufficient: It is normal for babies to sleep less than 90 minutes at a stretch even after a full feed in the initial days as the constant demand increases the supply. It is nature’s way of keeping the breast milk supply adequate. Mothers can get into postnatal depression, sleeplessness and stress if trying to exclusively breastfeed: Breastfeeding releases hormones which reduces stress in the mother and helps her to relax thus protecting her from postnatal blues. It also induces peaceful sleep both in mother and baby.
Breast fed babes are thinner compared to formula fed babies and hence are unhealthy: Formula fed babies cannot control their intake thus end up overfeeding and becoming obese in infancy this trend follows into their adulthood and predisposes them to obesity, hypertension and heart disease. On the other hand the breastfed babies tend not to overeat even as adults and stay fit and healthy free of these diseases.
Working mothers can neither exclusively breastfeed nor continue breastfeeding for a longer period: Working mothers can pump their milk and can store up to 6 months under proper conditions and so have no problem to continue feeding as long as they want to.
Breastfeeding is a natural process and does not need any effort from the mother: Breastfeeding is a natural process, but it needs a lot of motivation and hard work from the mother and is not always easy. This is where family support plays a major part.
Mothers should follow a strict diet and avoid trying out variety of food items: Babies receive the flavor of food eaten by the mother even when they are inside the mother’s womb by tasting the amniotic fluid and then through the breast milk and are ready to experiment with all varieties of food if exposed already. The mother’s diet should never be restricted instead can have a healthy mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fat with minerals and vitamins with each meal.
Contrary to what we want to achieve the sad fact is that less than 50% of mothers exclusively breastfeed in India despite knowing the fact that breastfeeding reduces infection, improves immunity, increases IQ and decrease allergy in the babies.
Starting from this international breastfeeding week of August let us take an oath to promote and support every mother to exclusively breastfeed which is the best feed for every baby!