For this edition, we have the second installment of our interview with Paula Andrea Osorio, creator of the Instagram account @poder.materno, where we will address the most frequent myths and false beliefs about breastfeeding.
Myth 1: Breast milk is not as nutritious as formula milk. It is important that we are clear about an essential characteristic of breast milk to demolish this myth: The time it takes for a baby to digest breast milk is from thirty to ninety minutes. The belief that goes hand in hand with this myth is one that ensures that a baby should eat every three hours, but as we can see, after an hour and a half a baby fed with breast milk has already digested and must be fed again. A three-hour time lapse between feedings produces a lot of hunger in a baby, which will manifest behavior that will make the mother think that her milk is not being nutritious. As long as we feed the baby at the right time and in the amount that he demands, we can be sure that our milk is feeding the baby and we will only have to review his behavior, bowel movements, etc. in detail. This is one of the myths that creates the most mistrust in women and that unfortunately has given a very negative burden to breastfeeding.
Myth 2: Babies are born on a full stomach and don’t need to be fed constantly. No, this is not true. A newborn baby is not born full; What your stomach actually contains is the well-known meconium, which is that substance that you have stored during pregnancy and that will be eliminated naturally through your bowel movements. In fact, the laxative effect of colostrum from breast milk allows meconium to pass easily. Therefore, it is essential that a newborn baby be fed as much as possible during the first hour after delivery and every hour and a half thereafter. Believing that a baby is born full is very dangerous and puts his health at risk since feeding with inadequate time lapses generates low sugar levels that can cause serious problems in the baby’s body.
Myth 3: A jaundiced baby should only drink formula. Jaundice is a real problem and many of our babies are born with high bilirubin levels. If this becomes our case, what we should do is feed the baby with breast milk within an hour between meals. The colostrum will cause the baby to excrete bilirubin through the stool. In the hospital, they generally recommend giving the baby formula milk because this milk causes constant bowel movements and eliminates bilirubin quickly. There are other cases in which a baby may have a yellow color to his skin but it does not mean that he has high bilirubin, many doctors assume that this is the case and recommend formula milk for the newborn immediately. As we can see, in any case, breastfeeding can be carried out and will have benefits for the baby, we just need to have the necessary information and do what we, as mothers know, is appropriate.
Myth 4: There are natural remedies for breast milk production. Breast milk is produced naturally and increases in quantity as the baby constantly consumes it and sucks on the mother’s nipple. The only reason a woman cannot produce milk is that there is a specific health condition that affects her. The natural remedies themselves cause a placebo effect that strengthens the confidence of the nursing mother and therefore her milk production improves, which is perfect from my point of view. However, it is important to be aware of how overconsumption of a natural remedy can be detrimental to the health of the mother and the baby, as is the case with fennel tea. The search for natural remedies generally responds to the false belief that breast milk “dries up”. Many myths arise from this belief, such as the one that assumes that breast milk will stop being produced if a bib that has a milk stain is exposed to the sun, but as we can see, none of this is true.
Myth 5: Discomfort caused by certain foods can be transferred to the baby through breast milk. The nutrients that we absorb from the food we eat are transmitted to the baby through breast milk since it is produced from the components of our blood. It is true that there are some foods that make the taste of milk vary, as is the case with garlic or melon, but this is not something negative, in fact, it is a process that will allow the baby to have a good adaptation when the timing of complementary feeding. Now, it is not entirely true that the discomfort caused by certain foods is transmitted to the baby through breast milk. For example, eating grains will not give your baby gas. However, if we must be especially careful with allergenic foods, such as gluten, nuts, shellfish, wheat, fish, soy, eggs, and milk, the allergy that any of these foods produces in the mother can be transmitted to the baby.
Myth 6: The nursing mother should eliminate dairy products from her diet. We must be clear about the following: both breast milk and cow’s milk contain lactose, but the proteins that each contain are totally different. Some babies are allergic to cow’s milk protein and what is recommended in this case is that the nursing mother follows a special diet where she does not consume any product derived from cow’s milk. Many mothers are confused and believe that cow’s milk protein allergy represents an allergy to lactose in breast milk, but as we see, the problem lies in the protein contained in cow’s milk and not in the lactose.
Myth 7: A woman with breast implants cannot breastfeed her baby. It is not true, a woman with breast implants can breastfeed her baby without any problem. In the event that you cannot do so, you should review the existence of any situation that may cause your low milk production, such as, for example, a bad surgical intervention or previous health problems such as diseases in the mammary glands, polycystic ovary or conditions produced due to high blood loss at delivery.
We hope that once again, this article will serve as a support for our readers who are in this process with their newborn babies. In our next edition, we will have the last installment of this series. Remember that you can follow Paula on her Instagram account.