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Last Updated Monday March 19 2018 06:27 AM IST

Attention new moms: don’t let these myths rob you of the joy of breastfeeding

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New mom

New mothers often receive well-intentioned advice about the health of the baby and herself. And a whole lot of these focus on breastfeeding. Grannies, aunties, and every woman in the family who has had children will have a funda to share about mother’s milk. Questions like – “do you have enough milk to keep the baby full?” often add to the woes of new mothers already struggling with the emotional and physical strain of childbirth. But here’s some good news. Much of what gets passed around as breastfeeding facts are mere misconceptions. Here are five myths that have been busted:

1. New mothers should be able to produce enough milk to keep their babies full.

The truth is many new mothers don’t. Women who are under medication during pregnancy or after delivery might find that they have a low milk supply. Some medical conditions can also delay milk arriving. Most mothers will notice that their milk starts coming in two to three days after childbirth. The supply usually keeps increasing as the mother’s health improves and her body adjusts to the new conditions. Nursing the baby often usually settles the problem for most women with the supply matching the baby’s needs. Delayed arrival or low supply of milk does not mean the end of the road. The word of wisdom for new mothers is that your doctor will know how to help you out. So, relax.

2. There are foods that nursing mothers should avoid

The key here is to just follow the diet recommended by your doctor. In most cases, this will be more or less in line with the regular diet. Some women are advised to eat a high protein diet to increase milk supply while others are told to cut down on fatty foods and sugar. The other golden rule is to drink lots of water. The bottom line is not to rack your brains about what foods to avoid while nursing – your doctor’s guidelines and some mindful eating should be good enough.

3. Nursing mothers should not work out

It doesn’t even classify as a myth because it is downright nonsense. Studies debunking this ridiculous idea recommend light workouts for feeding mothers to keep them mentally and physically energetic. If there is anything you need to keep a check on, it is that nursing your baby should be done half-an-hour before and after work out sessions.

4. New-borns should be nursed whenever they cry because they are asking for food.

Elders in the family often ask new mothers to breastfeed the babies whenever they cry. There is a widely prevalent misconception that babies cry when they are hungry. Babies are usually very sensitive and some can be more so – noises, smell, certain sensations etc can all make them cry. Newborns could also be asking for you to hug, hold, or comfort them because they are unwell. Make sure that your baby is not showing any signs of uneasiness if they are crying too often and too long.

5. Mothers who undergo Cesarean section will not have enough milk supply

After childbirth, a sequence of events trigger milk production, be it a vaginal birth or Cesarean section. The milk might be late in coming after a C-section. The supply can be boosted with a steady improvement in the mother’s physical and mental health. It is important to ensure that nursing starts as soon as possible after birth. If something prevents the baby from being nursed within the first four-six hours of birth – like a condition that requires the baby to be in the incubator – then milk should be expressed by hand or pump. If removal of milk does not happen, milk production will shut down, which in fact has little to do with C-section.

The opinions expressed here do not reflect those of Malayala Manorama. Legal action under the IT Act will be taken against those making derogatory and obscene statements.

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