For 27-year-old Sneha, her pregnancy was a surprisingly smooth ride. But while information, solicited and otherwise, was galore about the trials of childbirth, one aspect was conspicuously absent.
“While everyone prepares you for delivery, labour pains, and even false labour pains, no one ever tells you a thing about breastfeeding. It is assumed that a new mother will take to it naturally,” she exclaims.
For a little over two decades now, the first seven days of August are celebrated as World Breastfeeding Week. During this time, many hospitals conduct seminars and campaigns to create awareness about breastfeeding, and also to shatter the myths associated with it. We spoke to a lactation consultant and psychologist, Rekha Sudarsan, who torched a light on some of the common myths that surround breastfeeding.
Myth #1: Not every woman can produce enough milk.
“Only in cases where the mother has a serious medical condition will she be unable to produce milk,” says Rekha It is assumed that soon after childbirth, the mother’s body is unable to produce a lot of milk. This, coupled with the fact that we often naively associate a baby’s cries with hunger, leads to the flawed deduction that a mother may not be producing enough milk.
Emphasising on the fact that a new mother must be given all the support and help she need, Rekha says, “We forget that a new mother goes through so many hormonal, physical, and emotional changes. We overlook all that and expect her to become a responsible within minutes of delivering the baby. And the responsibility begins with breastfeeding.”
Myth #2: You must watch what you eat while you are breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding moms can eat and drink whatever they want. They should not alter their diet unless an issue arises. It is important to remember that babies are just fussy sometimes, and it will pass. Loading her with ‘ghee’, ‘ladoos’, and carbohydrate-rich foods isn’t the best thing to do. Instead, she should be eating protein rich food and enough vegetables. As for drinking water, breast milk compromises of 88% of water and hence there is absolutely no reason why she should be deprived of water. “Keep yourself well hydrated and eat well.”
Myth #3: Breastfeeding causes sagging.
Breastfeeding does not lead to the breast ptosis or sagging. What could lead to ptosis is improper support for the breasts. It is imperative that women wear the right brassiere while nursing the child, and after that too. Researchers from the University of Kentucky found that breastfeeding doesn’t have a significant effect on breast ptosis. Factors that could lead to breast ptosis are the pregnancy itself, body mass index (BMI), and smoking.
Myth #4: A nursing mother should not exercise as it decreases the production of milk
Picture for representation only. Source: Flickr
No, exercising while breastfeeding does not have any impact on the milk production. What it does instead is, release endorphins which make the mother feel good about herself. What you can do is feed the baby before you go out to exercise and about half an hour post workout.The benefits of exercising are far greater. It also alleviates depression symptoms in those with the disorders.
Myth #5: If you have undergone a C-section delivery, breastfeeding is not for you
The answer to this is an emphatic NO. After a C-section, we may delay the process to let the anaesthesia wear off. Even in cases where the mother has had a C-section, we have helped her nurse soon after the delivery with no problem at all. It’s true that it does take a little longer for mothers who deliver via C-section to initiate breastfeeding than those who deliver vaginally. This, however, is nothing to worry about.
Myth #6: Breastfeeding will cause some pain and that is normal
Source: Wikimedia Commons
No, breastfeeding does not cause any pain to the mother. If you are a new breastfeeding mom, you might initially feel a tingling sensation in your breasts while feeding. If it is painful, then it isn’t being done right. Rekha suggests looking at either the latch of the baby or a possible tongue tie issue.
If you are a new mother or know someone who is and needs help with breastfeeding, reach out to lactation consultants who can guide you through this. Rekha also urges all pregnant women to attend ante-natal classes during which discuss various positions and techniques of breastfeeding.
Rekha Sudarsan can be reached at Seethapathy hospital, Chennai. For consultation call – 044-28133014.