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Myths About Breast-Feeding

Por Ana C. López, Nutrition Counselor, MyDiet™ Team -
Myths About Breast-Feeding

If you just had a baby, be prepared to hear a lot of advice from family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. However, the most important thing is to know is what information is correct, and what isn’t, in order to achieve a successful and healthy breast-feeding experience.

To distinguish between myth and fact, and decide what is best for you and your baby, below you will find the most popular myths about breast-feeding.

  1. “The first few days there is almost no milk production, so you should bottle-feed your baby.”

During the last days of you pregnancy and the first days after your delivery, a special type of milk is produced called colostrum.  Colostrum is a yellowish liquid, thicker than breast milk. It has a higher concentration of nutrients and antibodies (defenses), and other important substances for this stage of your baby's development.

Some people think that colostrum is "useless", but the truth is that this type of milk offers babies many benefits at both nutritional and immunological levels (defenses). In fact, colostrum is considered the baby's first "vaccine" due to all of its protective properties. Colostrum also helps your baby eliminate its first feces, known as meconium.

Though the quantity of colostrum is very small, babies will receive much needed nutrients and liquids by receiving this milk during the first moment of their lives, and often there is no need to give them any other type of milk. 

  1. “If you do not produce enough milk, do not breast-feed your baby so often.”

The main stimulus for breast milk production is your baby's suction.Mothers' breasts are like a factory: the more they sell, the more they produce, and vice versa. Hence, waiting more time to breast-feed your baby, will actually have the opposite effect: milk production will decrease.

If you notice that your baby cries a lot, and he seems to be dissatisfied, make sure the breast-feeding position is correct, that he is sucking on the nipple correctly, and that you are relaxed, and in an adequate environment for breast-feeding at nursing time.  

  1. "If you have a baby boy, you will have to give him formula because he will not be satisfied with your milk."

Breast milk contains nutrients and fluids necessary for the baby's adequate development during the first months of life: both for boys and girls. In order to be sure that you are feeding your baby adequately, you should keep track of  your baby’s growth by monitoring his/her weight and height. Your health care provider should help you learn how to do this. 

  1. “Breast milk does not make your baby feel full; formula does.”

Babies fed exclusively with breast milk need to eat more often than formula-fedbabies. Nevertheless, this does not mean that breast milk does no satisfy them, or that it's less nutritious. Breast milk is easier to digest for babies (i.e., they can digest and absorb it more easily), than infant formula. This allows babies to benefit from all the nutrients, and helps prevent some problems, such as colic. 

  1. “You have to discard the first milk before nursing your baby.”

Perhaps you have noticed that the first milk is "thinner" that the milk you produce later. The body is wise: the first milk is more diluted, since it "quenches" the baby's thirst, while the one that comes later, has a higher concentration of nutrients, so it "will calm their hunger". So, as you can see, this does not mean that you have to discard the first milk. There is a reason for the changes in its composition. 

  1. “You have to drink a lot of milk to produce breast milk.”

Breast milk does not depend on a mother’s consumption of cow's milk, and its composition is very different. A varied and balanced diet will help breast feeding moms to adequately produce breast milk and stay healthy. Try to include different food groups: cereals and grains, vegetables, fruits, lean meats, low-fat dairy products and vegetable oils.

Now you know some myths about breast-feeding, so you have more tools to make your own decisions. Bear in mind that if you have questions, or if you have problems with nursing, the best option is to ask your doctor.

 

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