Myth: Breastfeeding is very painful
Fact: If you’re a first-time mother or you’ve delivered just a few days before, you may experience some amount of pain, but if it persists, something’s not right. “The pain could be caused by improper latching technique, where the baby is just sucking at the nipple but not taking the areola into his/her mouth,” Dr Bindhu says. An improper latching technique can lead to pain and cracks in the nipple.
Myth: If you’re sick, you should immediately stop breastfeeding
Fact: If you have a fever, cold or viral infection, it’s safe to continue breastfeeding. “In fact, breast milk contains antibodies that protect infants from infections,” she explains. Unless you have been diagnosed with HIV or open tuberculosis, go ahead and breastfeed without worrying about passing on any disease.
Myth 5: Breastfeeding mothers should use both breasts at each feeding
Fact: What’s important is that the baby finishes one breast and gets the hindmilk. The foremilk at the beginning hydrates him, while the thicker hindmilk at the end is full of protein and fat to help the baby grow. If only one breast is used at a feeding, make sure that the next feeding begins with the other breast to keep producing plenty of milk.
Myth 4: If my baby is nursing every hour, I won’t be able to produce enough milk
Fact: This is a common misconception, but only 1% of women can’t produce enough milk. Your body works on supply and demand, so nursing or pumping more can actually increase your supply.
It’s absolutely normal for your baby to “cluster feed” (frequent nursing) at certain times of the day because breastmilk is easier to digest. A benefit of cluster feeding is it can lead to longer stretches of sleep. Often babies will increase their frequency of feedings because of a growth spurt, usually around six weeks and then three, six and nine months of age. If you are separated from your baby, it is important to pump on the same feeding schedule so you continue to produce milk.
Myth: Breast engorgement is a normal thing
Fact: Breast enlargement is normal but engorgement is not. “It can occur when milk is produced but not let out for long hours, causing your breast ducts get full of milk,” says Dr Bindhu. This can also give rise to a painful condition called mastitis.
Myth: You should clean yourself before breastfeeding
Fact: “Breast milk contains protective anti-bodies, so you don’t need to worry about your baby catching an infection. If you wash yourself before breastfeeding, you actually end up getting rid of natural lubricants,” she says.
Myth: Mothers having small breasts may not be able to breastfeed properly
Fact: “The breast size is decided by the fat tissue and has nothing to do with the glandular tissue which carries milk to the nipple,” she clarifies.