Motherhood is a very intense time in a woman’s life., who already in pregnancy begins to experience a whirlwind of emotions and countless physical, psychological and social changes related to the arrival of her baby. The first moments after the birth of the new child are full of love, but in many cases also of fear and doubts about the care that the newborn needs and what is ideal for her health and well-being.
One of the points that generates the most controversy is breastfeeding. Many women wonder what is best for them and their baby and what pros and cons natural milk can have compared to formula. Although, in principle, there is nothing comparable to breast milk, of course the suitability of each alternative will depend on countless variables that affect the mother-baby dyad. Although some exceptional circumstances prevent breastfeeding from taking place, it is true that many women rule out breastfeeding out of ignorance rather than out of conviction or safety reasons.
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What is breastfeeding?
The benefits of breast milk are a reality recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), which recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of the baby’s life without the need to supplement with other foods and drinks. Only at 6 months should complementary feeding be started, although this does not prevent them from continuing to provide breast milk for up to two years and even more.
It is surprising that, even today, something as natural and primitive as breastfeeding is still an unknown matter. Misinformation has allowed numerous myths to appear that spread erroneous ideas about breastfeeding, which can condition the decision of many women regarding whether or not to breastfeed their babies. Truthful information is the best basis for each woman to make the decision that best suits her particular case, so in this article we will try to deny some of the most widespread myths about breastfeeding.
Although breastfeeding is something natural that is part of life itself, unfortunately there is still a lot of taboo around the very act of breastfeeding in public spaces. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breastfeeding is the best alternative (whenever possible) as the exclusive mode of nutrition for babies during the first six months. However, it is recommended to extend breastfeeding as a supplement until two years of life for all the benefits it provides.
This means that the mother will have to breastfeed her child in various public spaces, such as means of transport, restaurants or shopping centers, where the child may get hungry. It is then that women suffer great social exclusion and are pressured to breastfeed at home or in remote places so as not to disturb other people.
The question to ask is… Why does it bother so much? Well, because the breast has been associated in society with eroticism and sexuality. Therefore, it is considered that showing it in public is an inappropriate act. However, female breasts fulfill several functions beyond sex. Thus, feeding a baby should always be the priority and therefore the fact of breastfeeding anywhere should be normalized. Although lactation rooms are an option for those women who wish to breastfeed in a quiet area, this should never be an imposition, but rather an alternative for those who wish to do so.
The taboo of breastfeeding: debunking myths
Next, we are going to comment on some widespread myths about breastfeeding.
1. The mother may produce insufficient milk to feed her baby
One of the great fears of many women is to breastfeed and that the amount of milk is insufficient to sufficiently feed the baby. Nevertheless, the breast is able to produce milk based on the baby’s demandprovided that the shots are sufficient in number and are made in the proper position.
2. Breastfeeding deforms the chest
Breastfeeding is often blamed for sagging the breast and losing its smooth appearance and shape. However, this is not exactly the case. The reality is that the breast begins to change during pregnancy and, in addition, it is subject to other variables such as age, genetics or body fat percentage.
3. During lactation the woman has to drink a lot of water, a lot of milk and eat more than usual
Perhaps you have heard this myth once, although nothing is further from reality. Women who breastfeed do not produce more or less milk depending on the milk they drink, since the amount adjusts to the baby’s demand on its own. Nevertheless, It is recommended that they eat a balanced diet and drink enough water.
4. You have to organize a rigid schedule to breastfeed
Although this belief is widespread, the truth is that babies are not robots. Therefore, it is not appropriate to pretend to have fixed times to breastfeed. Instead, it is more advisable to feed the baby according to his demand, in a natural way and without predetermined schedules.
5. You should always give both breasts at each feeding
When you breastfeed, the ideal is to empty one first before giving the other, because the final milk is the richest in fat. Therefore, it is not always necessary to give both breasts, because depending on each baby, one may be enough.
6. If my mother did not breastfeed me, I will not be able to breastfeed my baby
Although genetics counts for many things, when it comes to breastfeeding, the mother’s experience does not determine her own, unless there is a medical problem. Again, as long as the woman is healthy, milk production is regulated according to the baby’s demand.
7. Women with small breasts produce little milk
It is often assumed that women with larger breasts will produce more milk. However, the breast is made up, on the one hand, of glandular tissue, which is what produces milk. On the other hand, it has a fatty type tissue. This means that breast fat is independent of glandular tissue and therefore the amount of milk that the mother produces. Milk is produced in greater or lesser quantities depending on the demand of the baby.
8. Breastfeeding is painful
Breastfeeding doesn’t have to hurt. In any case, transitory discomfort may appear until correct suction is achieved, but there should never be any pain. If this is the case, there may be a problem, such as an infection.
9. If the baby wants milk more often, he is not getting enough
Many mothers worry when they see that their baby claims the breast more often, because they automatically assume that they are not feeding enough. However, this phenomenon is normal, since demand is not linear and peaks can occur in which the little one needs more quantity than normal.
10. Breastfeeding is incompatible with taking medication
In this case we could say that it depends. While some medications are safe while breastfeeding, others are contraindicated. Therefore, in case of doubt you can always consult your doctor on this matter.
11. During lactation the woman cannot get pregnant
Many people believe that while breastfeeding, pregnancy is not possible, so breastfeeding is used as a kind of contraceptive method. This is because, in the first few months after childbirth, women do not have a menstrual period. While it is true that at this time the probability of pregnancy is very low, it is not reduced to zero at all. That is, breastfeeding is not a guarantee that a woman will not get pregnant again.
In this article we have talked about some myths about breastfeeding that are widespread. Despite the importance that breast milk has for the health of babies and mothers, there is still a lot of misinformation about it and many false beliefs that prevent new mothers from making an informed decision about the way they prefer to feed . In addition, there is still a view of breastfeeding as something that should be hidden because the female breast is associated only with eroticism.
Each woman may feel more comfortable with one method or another. Some opt for formula and others for natural milk and in all cases that decision must be respected. However, it is true that the properties of breast milk are unmatched and, according to the WHO, whenever possible this alternative is the most beneficial for the health of the newborn. Knowing these myths is essential to avoid mistakes that can have important consequences for both the mother and her child.