This post is very important since, depending on each country, place or region where you live for sure there are many myths related to breastfeeding.
These myths are popular beliefs that are transmitted from generation to generation, mainly by our mothers or grandmothers. Some of them do not have a logical or scientific explanation and others, in the worst case, can put at risk the mother or the baby. That’s why I want to talk to you about some of the most well-known myths regardless of the country where you live to put an end to them.
I will divide this theme into three parts, this first part will be to describe the myths that are especially related to the mother.
You can check the second part here.
Myths and realities about breastfeeding related to the mother.
Myth: women with small breasts can not breastfeed.
One of the most common concerns in women with small breasts is if they will have enough milk or if they can breastfeed their baby due to the size of their breasts.
The answer to this doubt is very clear: the size of the breasts has no influence on breastfeeding.
All women are different and also the size of our breasts, but it does not matter if a woman has very large or very small breasts, she will still have the capacity to produce milk and therefore she will be able to breastfeed her baby.
To explain this aspect better I would like to explain how breast milk is produced and what factors are necessary for it.
The production of milk depends on the mammary glands, they are formed by glandular tissue, adipose tissue and supporting connective tissue. What we can appreciate superficially are the areola and the nipple while the glandular tissue is deeply found.
The functioning of the mammary gland does not depend only on the anatomical structures but, it requires the emptying of the mammary gland by the child, it occurs when the child sucks the breast.
The regulation of milk production at the central level depends on the production of prolactin and oxytocin, thyroid hormones, growth hormone, insulin, and adrenal hormones. The prolactin and oxytocin being the most important hormones for this role.
Prolactin is produced in the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland and is released during pregnancy due to increased levels of estrogen and progesterone. Its pulsatile release occurs after delivery, once the levels of estrogen and placental lactogen descend, with the nipple suction stimulation being the most important.
Oxytocin is produced in the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland and is released due to sensory stimuli that are usually related to the baby. Anxiety, stress and sudden and unpleasant physical stimuli can block the release of oxytocin and therefore the ejection reflex of milk.
Since we explain all these aspects we can conclude that the size of the breasts does not influence breastfeeding.
Myth: Some women produce milk that is not good for the child or produces very little.
No woman can produce a milk of poor quality, all produce special milk to meet all the needs of their baby, which contains all the nutrients necessary for its development.
This myth is rather based on the composition of the milk and, in its transition since, at the beginning of breastfeeding it is watered down, this is designed to be able to satisfy the thirst of the baby, as the baby is sucking the milk turns whitish and, at the end of breastfeeding it becomes thicker and yellowish, due to fats that are good for their development.
With regard to the amount of milk produced, this depends on as we discussed above, the stimuli of the baby, nipple stimuli, oxytocin and prolactin, but if possible increase the amount of milk if we increase the number of breastfeeding, and if we make sure to eliminate any symptoms of stress or worry, as this delays oxytocin and that in turn decreases milk production.
But we can conclude then, that all women produce milk of good quality and in an adequate quantity for their baby.
Myth: if the mother is scared or angry she can not and should not breastfeed.
This myth is closely related to the previous one, and it is totally false, if the mother is scared or angry she will be able to breastfeed but first, she will have to calm down, so that this does not affect the production of
oxytocin and the flow of milk.
Many people believe that if the mother is angry she should not breastfeed, since her milk will be of poor quality and could harm the baby, this is totally false and, on the other hand, the mother should breastfeed her baby, since
this produces oxytocin, which is the hormone of happiness, so she will feel more calm and happy and, in turn, increase the emotional bond between her and her baby.
The reality with respect to this myth is that fear and stress can delay the flow of milk temporarily but the mother can breastfeed.
Myth: the mother must stick to a strict and restricted diet during breastfeeding.
There are no foods that should be restricted during breastfeeding, as long as the mother has a balanced diet there are no prohibited foods.
It is advisable to always consult a nutritionist specializing in nursing mothers to develop a balanced diet rich in all the nutrients and minerals she needs.
I will dedicate another exclusive post to talk about how a balanced diet should be for a nursing mother since some vitamins should be reinforced because they pass directly from the milk to the baby and this can generate a deficit in the mother that could cause problems for her health.
The reality of this myth is that the mother can eat any type of food during breastfeeding while your diet is balanced.
Myth: It is normal for the nipple to hurt when breastfeeding.
I think this is one of the first things that people tell us when we are pregnant, that we prepare ourselves because our nipples will bleed, they will hurt, and we will have to put up with it in order to breastfeed our baby.
This is totally false and we talked about it in previous posts. Breastfeeding should not cause any type of pain, if there is pain or cracks in the nipple it means that there is a problem with the latching of the baby or with the posture and, it should be corrected immediately.
The reality of this myth is that breastfeeding must be a painless process. If the mother hurts when breastfeeding she should consult a health professional to evaluate the technique of breastfeeding.
Myth: if the mother is sick or is taking medication, she can not breastfeed.
Whenever the mother has any illness or disease, when consulting the doctor must specify that she is a nursing mother, in this way the doctor may prescribe medicines that are suitable for breastfeeding. Today there are many medicines suitable for breastfeeding, which do not interfere and do not pass through the milk and thanks to this,
breastfeeding should not be interrupted.
But there are other medications that are not recommended for breastfeeding and should be suspended for a certain time while the treatment lasts. It is always good to have a bank of milk, for these cases, so while you can not breastfeed, the baby can take maternal milk by other methods, either with a syringe or with a glass or, if it is already well-established the breastfeeding can also use a baby bottle.
The reality of this myth is that the mother should consult a health professional who evaluates her case in particular, most of the medications such as analgesics or antimicrobial are not contraindicated during breastfeeding.
Myth: if the mother smokes away from the baby, the contents of the tobacco will not hurt the baby.
The reality of this myth is that: the content of tobacco is transmitted to the child through milk and this can cause serious problems for their health. A nursing mother should never smoke, it does not matter if she is near or far away from the child, nor should she keep the child close to someone who smokes, because of the problems caused also by being passive smokers.
These are some of the main myths related to the mother in breastfeeding. I hope that this post has been helpful in order to be better informed and not continue with these customs, which may cause the abandonment of breastfeeding.
If you know any other myth that I have not put please leave it to me in the comments and we can talk about it.
Do not forget to share with any mother who is breastfeeding her baby or any woman who is pregnant so she can be informed long before she starts breastfeeding.