The topic of breastfeeding is less taboo than ever, yet some misconceptions about it still exist. So, we’re tackling some common myths about this natural part of parenthood in honor of National Breastfeeding Month, which is celebrated every August to encourage more mothers to breastfeed and help eliminate the stigma still surrounding breastfeeding.
Myth: Breastfeeding is just a Lifestyle Decision
There are many reasons why mothers choose to breastfeed, but one of the most important reasons is that it’s simply one of the best things you can do for a baby.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that babies who are breastfed have a reduced risk of developing the following conditions:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Severe lower respiratory disease
- Ear infections
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Gastrointestinal infections
The CDC notes that mothers who breastfeed their babies also benefit from a lower risk of various types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Myth: Most Babies Are Breastfed According to Doctor Recommendations
Although the percentage of infants who’ve ever been breastfed is going up, the percentage of babies who are being breastfed long enough is falling woefully short.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends babies be breastfed exclusively for the first six months and get a mix of breastfeeding and complementary foods from six months all the way up to two years of age. The CDC estimates that just 36 percent of babies are still being breastfed at age one.
Myth: Breastfeeding is Probably Going to Hurt
Although a little bit of discomfort is fairly common for mothers as they learn how to breastfeed. Over time with some experience, however, soreness can be avoided altogether. For new mothers who need a little bit of help making the experience more comfortable, we recommend reaching out to your doctor who can put you in touch with a lactation consultant.
Myth: You Can Never Use Formula if You Breastfeed
Breast milk is good for babies, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ever feed an infant formula. There are special circumstances to consider when breastfeeding, such as vaccinations and other health conditions, that may make formula the better choice in certain instances. If you decide you need to offer formula to your baby on occasion, just be sure to talk to your doctor about putting together a plan and consult this guide for choosing the right formula.
Myth: Breastfeeding is Only Acceptable in Specific Locations
The topic of breastfeeding is, perhaps, more socially acceptable than it ever has been, but it’s still important for mothers to know their rights when it comes to breastfeeding in public. Although many mothers prefer to breastfeed in quiet, private settings, there are a variety of laws across all 50 states that support a mother’s right to breastfeed in public. In addition, federal laws currently require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pumping breast milk at the workplace for one year after a child’s birth.
For more breastfeeding guidelines, recommendations, and frequently asked questions, visit the CDC’s official website. Be sure to check out UM Charles Regional Medical Center’s classes and events calendar for upcoming Breastfeeding Support Group Meetings, and call our lactation consultant at (301) 609-5455 to learn more.