Feeding your baby with breast milk exclusively for the first 6 months is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as continued breastfeeding for up to 2 years or as long as possible. As you go through your breastfeeding journey, you will realize that it comes with certain struggles.
Many breastfeeding mothers have experienced supply issues, baby blues, poor latch, sore and cracked nipples, and even lots of tears, but still persisted to come close to their breastfeeding goals. And alongside this, you may also hear outrageous breastfeeding statements which will blow you away.
If you hear any of these, please do yourself a favour and don’t listen right away. Do your own research before you even consider them to be true. Remember that you should continue to feel confident that you are doing a great job! So many other moms will tell you that they’ve been there before and are willing to offer support.
Here are some of those crazy, outrageous statements on breastfeeding that you may even be able to relate with:
“Breast milk has no nutritional value beyond 12 months.”
Your breast milk changes as your baby grows to meet their needs. After 12 months, it contains fats, milk protein, vitamin A, and lactose. According to studies on human milk composition, it provides the standard for infant nutrition, growth and development (source: National Centre for Biotechnology Information, US National Library of Medicine).
WHO recommends that infants should receive adequate food at 6 months in addition to to breast milk, to meet a child’s growing nutritional needs. And if a baby is not breastfed, you should give an additional 1-2 cups of milk per day and 1-2 extra meals per day.
It’s really sad that some mothers stop breastfeeding because they tend to believe this. If someone tells you that you are a bad mother just because you do not give your baby formula, do not even listen to that crap.
Breast milk is still way better for babies than infant formula.
Breast milk is packed with all the nutrients a baby needs. It has all the energy, protein, fat, sugar, vitamins, minerals and fluids they need during their first 4 to 6 months of life, amino acids, and essential fatty acids that are vital for their growth and development. Formula contains animal or soy protein.
Also, breast milk has anti-bodies that help protect against illnesses like sudden infant death syndrome, infections, allergies, middle ear problems, and obesity in later life. Formula takes longer to digest than breast milk and has no anti-bodies.
“You should not breastfeed if you are sick.”
If you caught a bug, your baby will already be exposed to that virus before the symptoms even show up (such as fever, colds, and cough). On the contrary, you should continue to breastfeed to help protect your baby from infection. Remember, breast milk produces anti-bodies and you pass this to your baby.
I remember having colds and cough and I was so worried that I might pass this on to my baby. Guess what, I was amazed that she never caught on.
What you can do is to wash your hands often, drink lots and lots of fluids, and avoid sneezing near your baby.
“Feed baby 10 minutes on either side and if they need more, then top them up with formula since you do not have good milk supply. Then feed again after 4 hours. If they cry in between, make them wait. It won’t hurt them.”
This sounds so wrong! As long as your baby is correctly latched, you should feed more often than usual to increase your supply. Forget about routines if you are establishing your milk supply. Offer a feed every 2-4 hours and learn to understand your baby’s hunger cues.
Babies also differ and some may take 20 minutes or more to drain each breast. At the start, mine even took around 30-50 minutes on each breast. Your baby will let go when they are done.
If your baby is not satisfied or still unsettled after a feed, offer a top-up feed instead of mixing it up with formula.
You can also try breast compression to improve your milk flow.
“Demand feeding is spoiling your baby.”
People often say that you should beware of spoiling your baby or being manipulated by your newborn. Parenting is never easy and parenting styles differ.
Attachment parenting is not the same as overindulging your kids or giving them everything they ask for. It helps if you can differentiate what they need vs. what they want. According to Dr. Sears, attachment parenting implies responding appropriately to your children, whereas spoiling suggests responding inappropriately.
Breastfeeding your baby on demand (or by request) helps you have a good milk supply, and it allows you to comfort them. Babies are happiest and healthiest when they are in close contact with you. They sleep better and cry much less.
If you have mastitis, the worst thing you can actually do is to stop breastfeeding and/or expressing.
Mastitis is caused by a blocked milk duct that may lead to inflammation or bacterial infection. If it is not cleared, you can develop flu-like symptoms like fever, aches, and pains.
To prevent mastitis, you should ensure that your breasts are drained well. Usually, poor drainage may be due to poor attachment. So make sure that your baby is attached well to your breasts, and feed frequently.
If the blockage does not clear within 8-12 hours and you feel unwell, see your doctor right away. Again, do not stop breastfeeding and/or expressing.
“Breasts take 30 minutes to 1 hour to refill, so you cannot feed until then.”
There are also some people who think that if your breasts are not hard or if you do not leak, you have no milk.
You will always have milk, so you do not have to wait for a certain time to put your baby back on your boob. As long as your baby drinks more milk, you will then make more milk. Supply equals demand.
If your baby is still hungry after you feed them, put them right back at your breast for a top up feed.
This is when you breastfeed your baby not because they are hungry, but instead you breastfeed to comfort them.
Sucking gives them comfort and helps them to relax. For newborns, sucking means they are hungry and it makes sense to breastfeed them when they start sucking.
Personally, I don’t mind putting out my breasts and giving cuddles to comfort my daughter. I didn’t even give her a dummy right away, and when I finally tried after several months (with much hesitation), I’m glad she didn’t like it. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t reduce her breast time so as not to affect my milk supply.
“It’s hot, he looks thirsty. Have you tried giving your baby water?”
Breast milk is enough for young babies and it is all they need to keep themselves hydrated. If its hot, they might want to feed more. Giving water to babies can actually harm them.
Boiled water is safe to be introduced around 6 months, and this is also when babies start eating solid food.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.”
Your baby continues to receive all the benefits of breast milk as long as they are still receiving your milk.
“You’re going back to work soon, you should wean.”
You can definitely continue to breastfeed once return to work. Pump milk so your baby can be bottle-fed while you are at work.
When stored properly, frozen milk keeps 3-6 months in the freezer of a 2-door fridge, and it can last 6-12 months in deep freeze.
And then, ensure that you breastfeed your baby when you are at home. You can reconnect before you leave for work and when you get home.
In conclusion, while it can be utterly rewarding, it’s hard enough to be a mom so let’s not put anyone down. At the end of the day, we are all trying our very best to feed our babies. As they say, a full baby is a happy baby. And while formula feeding is good, breastfeeding mothers are just proud and supportive of each other since some moms do not have the right support to continue to breastfeed.
What’s the worst statement you’ve ever heard about breastfeeding? I would love to hear more about outrageous breastfeeding statements that made you shake your head in disbelief. Leave your comments below.