You know when a friend makes your coffee exactly the way you like it? Breast Milk is like that for your baby. Breastfeeding is the optimal source of nutrition. It contains proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals plus antibodies to fight infection. It also contains hormones that help your baby's development. Babies who are fed nothing but breast milk from birth through their first 6 months of life get the best start. It provides protection from respiratory infections, GI infections and diarrhoea. It may also reduce the risk of childhood asthma and allergic rhinitis which is an inflammation inside the nose caused by allergens.
It's not all about babies though; breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes as well. It is also a way of bonding with your baby and is known to reduce the risk of ovarian or breast cancer.
Some breastfeeding myths-
- Breast Milk does not contain enough iron for the baby's needs
Not true! Breast Milk contains just enough iron for the baby's needs.
- It is easier to bottle feed than to breastfeed
Not true! Breastfeeding is made difficult because women do not receive the help they should, to get started properly. A poor start can make breastfeeding difficult. It is difficult at first but becomes easier later on.
- If a baby has diarrhoea or vomiting, the mother should stop breastfeeding.
The best medicine for a baby's gut is Breast Milk.
- Breastfeeding ties the mother down
Not true! A baby can be breastfed anywhere, anytime. No need to drag around bottles or formula. Also, there is no need to worry about where one can warm the milk.
- Mother can’t take any medication while breastfeeding
Many medications can be taken while breastfeeding. If you have taken medication that is not safe for breastfeeding, pump and discard your milk while taking your medicine and resume breastfeeding when it's no longer in your system.
- A mother should only eat plain food while breastfeeding
There is no need to change the diet while breastfeeding. It is advised to eat a balanced diet and foods that increase milk production like fenugreek, fennel, spinach, oats etc.
- Breastfeeding hurts and cause sore nipples
This can be avoided by learning the right positioning and attaching the baby correctly to the breast.
- You have to drink milk to make milk
Drinking milk has little to do with a woman’s production of Breast Milk. It is important to be well hydrated and consume a nutrient dense diet.
Some health tips while breastfeeding:
- A woman requires 400-500 extra calories per day when breastfeeding but if overweight, she need not increase her calorie intake. But taking specific nutrients such as iron, calcium, potassium and vitamin A, D are beneficial while breastfeeding.
- Keeping a food diary if you suspect something in your diet is causing a problem for your baby, is also helpful.
- If you are not sure about a particular food item, start by introducing it in small amounts. Most babies can handle problem foods when they get a little older. Try to reintroduce certain foods every 2-3 months.
- Limit drinks with added sugars, like sodas, sports drinks and energy drinks.