World Breastfeeding Week 2023: Experts Debunk Myths Related To Breastfeeding

World Breastfeeding Week 2023: Experts Debunk Myths Related To Breastfeeding

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New Delhi: The first week of August, is globally recognised as World Breastfeeding Week, which aims to spread awareness about the paramount importance of breastfeeding. It also serves as a crucial platform to dispel myths surrounding breastfeeding and educate new mothers about the dos and don’ts of this natural, essential practice. To debunk myths related to breastfeeding, ABP Live sought the opinion of experts who addressed certain myths prevailing around breastfeeding and debunked them,

Myths And Facts Related To Breastfeeding:

Dr. Divya Singh, Senior Surgeon, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and Director, Maaiya Social Change Front Foundation said, “Breastfeeding has been surrounded by myths and misconceptions throughout history. It’s important to address these myths to provide accurate information and support for breastfeeding mothers.”

Here are some myths listed by her:

Myth 1: Breastfeeding is always easy and comes naturally.

Facts: While breastfeeding is a natural process, it doesn’t always come easily to all mothers and babies. Many mothers may face challenges such as latching difficulties, low milk supply, or nipple pain. Seeking guidance from lactation consultants or healthcare providers can help overcome these challenges.

Myth 2: Formula milk is just as good as breast milk.

Fact: Breast milk provides unique and essential nutrients for a baby’s growth and development that formula cannot replicate. It contains antibodies that help protect against infections and diseases. It is tailor-made for every baby at the right time, right temperature, right quantity and is available on demand. With advances in science and technology, there have been consistent improvements made in the type and kind of formula milk available today right down to the lactose-free varieties for intolerant babies however it lacks the essential proteins and antibodies which only a mothers body can transfer from mother to baby through milk which are an essential protection in the initial days against various types of illnesses and the mother-child bond of warmth and feeling of connection is created through and during the times of the act of feeding through the breast. A mother feels the connection is not lost with the severing of the cord but their bodies remain connected and in sync with the demand and supply of the milk and the act of breastfeeding.

Myth 3: Breastfeeding prevents you from getting pregnant.

Fact: While breastfeeding can act as a form of birth control (known as the Lactational Amenorrhea Method), it is not foolproof. It is still possible to ovulate and become pregnant while breastfeeding, especially as breastfeeding patterns change over time.

Myth 4: You can’t breastfeed if you have a cold or illness.

Fact: Breastfeeding mothers can generally continue breastfeeding even when they have a cold or mild illness. In fact, breastfeeding can help provide antibodies to the baby, protecting them from getting sick.

In addition to her, Dr Jainesh Doctor, Consultant Advanced Gynecologic Endoscopic Surgeon, Motherhood Hospitals, Kharghar also debunked some myths related to breastfeeding:

Myth 5: Breastfeeding is only beneficial for the baby

Fact: Breastfeeding not only benefits the baby, but also offers advantages to mothers such as reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, aiding in weight loss, and in decreasing the likelihood of postpartum depression.

Myth 6: Breastfeeding is immensely painful

Fact: Women who are unfamiliar with breastfeeding often believe that it is a grueling process for mothers and can result in significant agony. Nevertheless, the reality is that breastfeeding does not inflict any physical pain whatsoever. If there is pain then this can indicate a problem. It is better to consult the doctor and clear all the doubts.

Myth 7: Breastfeeding often leads to weakness in women

Fact: The act of breastfeeding itself does not weaken women; however, inadequate dietary choices can result in feelings of weakness. It is crucial for mothers to prioritize a nutritious diet during breastfeeding to ensure both their own and their baby’s optimal health.

Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Mother And Child:

Dr. Amlan Choudhury, Paediatrician, Golf View Healthcare & Research Institute said, “The benefits of breastfeeding extend far beyond providing nutrition; it also plays a vital role in the child’s health and well-being. Studies show that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months can reduce the risk of infant mortality by 14% and prevent up to 20% of neonatal deaths. Additionally, breastfeeding has been linked to a 50% reduction in the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The emotional bond formed during breastfeeding fosters a sense of security and comfort, positively impacting the baby’s cognitive and emotional development”

“Furthermore, breastfeeding benefits mothers as well. It aids in postpartum recovery by helping the uterus contract and reducing the risk of postpartum bleeding. Long-term advantages include a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as a lower likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. As we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, let us remember that breastfeeding is not just a biological process; it is a fundamental cornerstone of global health,” he added. 

Dos And Don’ts Of Breastfeeding:

Amrita Mitter, Director, Golf View Healthcare & Research Institute enlisted the Dos and Don’ts of breastfeeding:

The Dos of Breastfeeding:

  • New mothers should consult with lactation consultants or healthcare professionals to ensure a proper latch and address any concerns.
  • Feed the baby whenever they show signs of hunger, typically every 2-3 hours.
  • Regular skin-to-skin contact promotes bonding and encourages the baby to latch on.
  • A well-balanced diet with plenty of fluids supports milk production and sustains the mother’s health.
  • Find a quiet, comfortable space for breastfeeding to promote relaxation and minimise distractions.

The Don’ts of Breastfeeding:

  • Supplementing with formula or other foods may interfere with milk supply. Consult a healthcare professional before introducing any supplements.
  • Pain during breastfeeding may indicate an incorrect latch or other issues. Seek help to address and resolve the problem promptly.
  • Babies have different feeding patterns. Allow the baby to feed on demand rather than imposing strict feeding schedules.
  • Excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption can pass through breast milk and may affect the baby’s sleep and development.
  • Smoking can harm the baby’s health and reduce milk production. It’s essential to create a smoke-free environment for both the mother and the baby.

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