As I was exclusively breastfeeding my baby for the first 6 months, I get asked all sorts of questions from curious neighbors to inquisitive onlookers about breastfeeding, the common one being “Enough milk for the baby, ah?”. Although there is so much awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding, there are still many who still subscribes to some unsubstantiated claims about breastfeeding a baby exclusively. Hence, I would like to highlight some of the myths/misconceptions associated with exclusive breastfeeding:
1. Enough milk for the baby?
An overabundance of milk is more likely than a lack of supply. The key is to get the baby to latch correctly and to breastfeed on demand. It’s all about demand and supply – the more the baby takes from me, the more milk my body produces. That’s why it’s such a calorie-burning activity!
2. You should feed the baby some formula milk, otherwise the baby will refuse formula milk outright (because of its taste) when you decide to supplement her with formula later.
That’s true to some extent. Most babies older than six months who have never had formula will not accept it because of the taste. In my case, I intend to breastfeed Svadhi as long as baby and I are comfortable about it; so there’s no issue about whether she will accept formula milk later on.
3. A breastfeeding baby needs extra water in hot weather.
Not true. Breastmilk contains 88% water.
4. Pumping is a good way of knowing how much milk the mother has.
Not true. The baby who breastfeeds well can get much more milk than her mother can pump. Often times, I find myself sweating over pumping 3 oz of milk and find that my breast is still full; but Svadhi efficiently guzzles down and empties my breast within a few minutes.
5. Breastmilk doesn’t contain enough iron for the baby’s needs.
Not true. Breastmilk contains just enough iron for the baby’s needs. The iron in breastmilk is better absorbed by the baby than formula milk.
6. It is easier to bottle feed than to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding is often more difficult at first, due to a poor start, but usually becomes easier later.
7. Breastfeeding ties the mother down.
It depends on how you look at it. I can breastfeed my baby anywhere, anytime, and thus breastfeeding is liberating for me.
8. If the baby has diarrhea or vomitting, the mother should stop breastfeeding.
I found out that it’s not true. The best medicine for a baby’s gut infection is breastfeeding.
9. If the mother is down with fever or cold she should stop breastfeeding.
The baby’s best protection against getting the infection is for the mother to continue breastfeeding.