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Filipino people are known to be superstitious people. In every aspect of life, there’s a myth tied to it. Breastfeeding is no exception. I’m not one to be superstitious but breastfeeding myths are common, especially in the Philippines. And some of them can be downright absurd.
It’s usually the mothers’ relatives (usually old-fashioned moms or mothers-in-law) who have baseless comments about breastfeeding. I know moms, especially young moms, who don’t have a single clue about breastfeeding and would only rely on what their parents have to say. These breastfeeding myths somehow won’t go away. I’m sharing here some of the common ones, and let you know that I have, at some point, believed in a few of them.
#1. Cradle cap in babies is caused by allergies brought about by breast milk.
Isn’t cradle cap, that yellowish crusty substance on baby’s scalp, common among newborns? I don’t know how this breastfeeding myth came to be but cradle cap is supposed to be normal and it’s not contagious nor is it a sign of poor hygiene.
#2. Do not breastfeed when you’re tired; your baby might get tired, too.
When are moms not tired? Just because a mom’s breast milk contains antibodies that can be passed on to babies, doesn’t mean that the baby can also get the mother’s feeling of exhaustion. The antibodies passed on through the milk, however, does help the baby fight off the sickness the mother has.
#3. Only big-breasted women can breastfeed well.
In the world of breastfeeding, size and shape don’t matter. Even women with inverted nipples can still breastfeed.
#4. Breastfeeding makes your breasts sag.
No, the breasts won’t sag, according to lactation experts at LATCH Davao, a non-profit organization that offers “quality lactation education and peer counseling services to mothers who wish to breastfeed.” What makes those breasts sag are aging, gravity and sudden weight loss.
#5. Feed with both breasts: one serves as the food, the other is water.
Sorry, but this breastfeeding myth made me giggle a bit. The fact is both breasts produce the same substance: breastmilk. It is not required for a mom to give both breasts. Your baby can finish feeding on one side and proceed to the other. If you tend to forget which side your baby last fed from, there are milk bands available to help you remember. Or you can check out these tricks to help which breast should be offered next.
#6. Drink soup so you can produce more milk.
Totally had a “No way” moment when I read this because I was a sucker for malunggay soup or clam soup when I was breastfeeding my boy and I believed it would make me abundant with breastmilk. Plus, there’s my mom who was so insistent about me drinking plenty of soup so I can increase my milk supply. However, there’s no scientific evidence to back this claim.
An article on Romper, citing Kristin Gourley, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), stated that soup specifically does not increase milk supply. Yes, moms should be hydrated at all times but taking in soup alone does not help at all – not in that way.
What does help is that you eat or enjoy meals that you are craving for. Lactation consultant Tera Kelley Hamann believes that this theory of soup increasing milk supply comes from the thought that soup makes you feel relaxed. Breastfeeding experts always remind moms that stress does affect breast milk production, so if soup happens to be your comfort food, then go ahead.
#7. Breastfeeding should hurt and as a mother, you should endure the pain.
I had this thought that I would endure the pain that comes with breastfeeding but I learned that the experience shouldn’t be traumatic. The pain was excruciating when I was breastfeeding the first few weeks and that was because there was no proper latching. (Here are tips on how you can achieve a proper latch for breastfeeding)
While nipple creams exist to soothe the soreness in your nipple, breastfeeding shouldn’t be too painful that it becomes a reason for a mom to quit. Get help from a lactation expert in correcting the latch or check if you already have an infection.
#8. Breastfeeding makes a baby clingy and highly dependent.
Experts say it’s the opposite, although admittedly, I find that hard to believe at the moment because yes, I have a clingy boy. But the experts said it: babies who grew up with attachment style of parenting, including breastfeeding, will be more independent LATER IN LIFE.
#9. Breastfeeding moms should time their feeding sessions.
It’s sad when you think about how a baby still wants to nurse but just because this breastfeeding myth exists, the baby needs to be stopped at some point when feeding. Martinez explains that babies are different, and so are their feeding patterns. Some babies can feed longer than the others.
#10. Drinking cold water is bad while breastfeeding.
IBCLC Joyce Martinez debunks this breastfeeding myth explaining that cold water doesn’t physiologically affect a mother’s milk supply. This belief comes from some cultures in which people believe the body is in the “yin” state, or cold state, following child birth and so cold drinks should be avoided.
What’s the worst, most hilarious, or most absurd breastfeeding myth have you encountered? Would love to hear from you. Share them in the comments section below!