When it comes breastfeeding, often new mothers find themselves bombarded with all kinds of advice and opinions. Though given with good intentions, not all advice is helpful, and most of it unfortunately spreads confusion and misinformation.

There are many myths surrounding breastfeeding that often have no scientific basis or justification and many new mothers find they have to sift through all this in order to get to the right information for breastfeeding. Here we have listed some common myths and the truth behind them for you:

Myth: It is normal for breastfeeding to be painful

Fact: In the first few days after birth, some mothers may experience tenderness and sensitivity while they are learning to breastfeed. Sensitivity on the nipple is normal, but pain is not normal. When you get the right support and learn how to position your baby and make sure they are attached deeply, breastfeeding should not be painful. A skilled professional or a lactation consultant can help you to get over the pain.

Myth: Small breasts produces less milk compared to large breasts

Fact: The size of the breast is not related to the ability of mother’s body to produce milk. However, milk storage capacity may be different meaning that baby may feed from both breasts to satisfy hunger or baby may want to feed more frequently. When baby is demand feeding and milk is removed from your breast effectively, your body will produce as much milk as your baby needs.

Myth: Mothers have to stop breastfeeding when they go back to work or study

Fact: Mothers can go back to work or study and continue to breastfeed their babies. Expressing and storing some milk before going back to work is recommended. Once you are at work, breastfeed during working hours if baby is close by or express your milk at work and breastfeed when you get home. This will provide enough milk for your baby and your body will also continue producing milk. If you decide to give your baby a breast milk substitute for some feeds, it still very good to continue breastfeeding whenever you are with your baby.

Myth: If mother has or is suspected to have COVID-19, she should not breastfeed

Fact: WHO recommends that mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be encouraged to initiate and continue to breastfeed, keep baby with them in the same room and hold them skin-to-skin or kangaroo care with appropriate precautions. These include wearing a mask, washing your hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub before and after touching your baby, and routinely cleaning and disinfecting surfaces you have touched. Also, wash breastmilk pumps, milk storage containers and feeding equipment after every use as usual.

Myth: Breastfeeding mothers should eat special food

Fact: Breastfeeding mothers need to eat a healthy balanced diet like everybody else. You don’t need to change your food habits. Eat whenever you are hungry and drink when thirsty. Your diet has minimal effect on your milk. Babies are exposed to the smell and taste of the mother’s diet which makes them ready at six months of age to start solid foods. If a specific food makes you uncomfortable, try to avoid it because your baby may not like it as well.

Zahra Mokhber
Lactation Consultant