Breastfeeding is a natural and basic feature of motherhood, providing various health benefits to both the mother and the baby. Even with well-known advantages, there are several myths and misconceptions about breastfeeding that have grown over time. We spoke to Dr Atchara Venkatraman, Founder of Bump2cradle, Childbirth Educator, Child Development Consultant, Child psychologist (ICPEM certified) and Maternal and Infant Nutritionist, who listed facts about breastfeeding, clearing up some common myths to promote a better understanding of this necessary practice.
Myths And Facts About Breastfeeding
Myth 1: Breastfeeding Is Not Necessary in Modern Times
Dr Venkatraman said, “One prevalent misconception is that with the advancement of formula feeding and baby food products, breastfeeding is no longer essential. Opposing this belief, scientific research consistently declares that breastfeeding remains the top priority for infant nutrition.” Breast milk is uniquely customised to meet a baby’s nutritional needs, having essential nutrients, antibodies, and enzymes that protect and enhance the baby's immune system and protect against infections and diseases.
Myth 2: Formula Feeding Is Equivalent to Breastfeeding
Dr Venkatraman highlighted, “Some people argue that formula milk provides the same benefits as breast milk, making breastfeeding unnecessary. While formula feeding can sustain a baby's basic nutritional needs, it cannot replicate the unique composition of breast milk.” Breast milk is a living substance that adapts to the baby's changing requirements, and it contains antibodies that help protect the baby from infections and illnesses.
Myth 3: Breastfeeding Causes Sagging Breasts
The fear of sagging breasts often discourages women from breastfeeding. However, breastfeeding, in itself, does not directly lead to breast sagging. Dr Venkatraman added, “Features, such as genetics, age, weight fluctuations, and the number of pregnancies play a more significant role in breast changes. Moreover, breastfeeding provides several benefits to breast health, reducing the risk of certain breast conditions, including breast cancer.”
Myth 4: Breastfeeding Makes Babies Dependent
Many believe that breastfeeding can create dependency issues, making babies clingy and overly dependent on their mothers. On the contrary, breastfeeding can promote secure attachment between the mother and the baby, which is crucial for the child's emotional and psychological development. Dr Venkatraman said, “Securely attached infants tend to explore the world with more confidence and develop healthier relationships later in life.”
According to the International Breastfeeding Journal, the mothers felt a sense of closeness to their young ones due to breastfeeding. They described their interaction and close bond with the baby as this feeling of being together.
Myth 5: Breast Pumps are Not Effective in Providing Proper Nutrition
Breast pumps are valuable tools that can help working mothers maintain their breastfeeding journey. Dr Venkatraman informed, “When used correctly, breast pumps can efficiently express breast milk, which can be fed to the baby when the mother is away. Modern breast pumps are designed to mimic a baby's sucking patterns and are effective in maintaining milk supply and ensuring proper nutrition for the baby even in the mother's absence.”
Myth 6: Breastfeeding Is Always Easy
Dr Venkatraman said, “While breastfeeding is a natural process, it does not always come effortlessly for every mother and baby. Many women face challenges, such as latch difficulties, nipple soreness, or low milk supply.” Seeking support from lactation consultants, healthcare professionals, and support groups can significantly help overcome these challenges and make breastfeeding a more positive experience.
Myth 7: Breastfeeding Should Be Painful
It is a misconception that breastfeeding should be a painful experience. While some initial discomfort may occur during the first few days of breastfeeding, persistent pain is often a sign of improper latch or other issues that need to be addressed. Correcting positioning and latch techniques can alleviate pain and ensure a more comfortable breastfeeding journey.
The information provided in this article is shared by a registered healthcare expert and is for informational purposes only. Hence, we advise you to consult with your expert if you have any questions related to breastfeeding.