Breastfeeding: Unveiling the Truth


While meeting parents before their baby is born or speaking to the mother of a newborn at the hospital, I am amazed at how many mothers have a totally distorted view on breastfeeding. From “I was fed formula, so I will feed my babies the same” to “I do not want to do it because it hurts”. These mothers do not realize that they are the victims of the culture, formula-feeding culture that is. Our country is probably unique: the formula industry totally changed the approach to feeding the baby, and breastfeeding is often viewed as an anachronism or inconvenience. We have lost the community/family knowledge about this process because for many generations babies were fed formula only. Where will the help for a new mom come from if her friends, sisters, mother and grandmother did not have experience with breastfeeding?

We people tend to stick with something familiar. If as a child you have not seen your mother or your aunts nursing their children, if in your mind a baby always associates with a bottle, it will be hard for you to try to breastfeed because to you this is an uncharted territory. If you keep reading or hearing horror stories about pain, engorgement, not producing enough milk, you will very soon believe that breastfeeding is too hard to try or simply impossible. You may be worried that you need to return to work, and you may think that working mother equals formula feeding. Newman Breastfeeding Clinic and Institute compiled a comprehensive list of Myths of Breastfeeding.

As a pediatrician and a breastfeeding consultant, I am dealing with these breastfeeding myths and some real breastfeeding problems daily.

  • Pain. If you experience pain while nursing, something is wrong. Poor latch is the most frequent problem there, followed by engorgement, mastitis etc. You will not have these problems, if you get a good guide from the start. Ask for a lactation consultant at the hospital, or come to my outpatient breast feeding clinic soon after discharge and get the help you need.
  • Returning to work. If you think about it two weeks ahead and pump excess of your milk every day and store it in the freezer, your baby may never need to even try formula in her life. You can arrange to pump your milk at work a few times a day and bring it home in a freezer bag. Keep in mind that you only nurse frequently during the first couple weeks; after two moths of age babies eat every three to four hours, so that is how often you will need to pump at work.
  • Not enough milk. 99% of mothers have potential to produce enough milk. The problems start with giving formula at the hospital. That is when the opportunity for the baby to induce the milk production is lost. If you bring the baby to your breast you will have milk, and if you don’t you won’t. It is just as simple. And of course pumping after feeding helps it too, but the main thing is nursing.

All around the globe babies are fed with mothers milk, just like it was designed by Mother Nature: when the baby appears, so does the milk. In many countries, breastfeeding is an accepted norm of life, and people view the absence of milk as an anomaly or a curse. When the baby is born, it should be only natural to nurse. Breastfeed and reap the many benefits of breastfeeding.


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