If there’s one thing couples can count on after they’ve announced that they’re expecting, it's that countless people – including strangers – will offer their “expert” advice on all things pregnancy and parenting.
In addition to hearing recommendations on the foods you should eat and how you should create your birth plan, you’re also bound to hear plenty of stories about breastfeeding. Some of them may make you wonder whether breastfeeding is right for you.
However, you should know that there is a great deal of misinformation surrounding the topic and what you hear from family members, neighbors and the lady in front of you in the check-out line at the grocery store should be taken with a grain of salt.
So, to help you make a more informed decision about breastfeeding, we separate the facts from the myths surrounding the practice.
FACT: Breastfeeding is recommended.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months after birth — and breast-feeding in combination with solid foods until at least age 1 or for as long as it is mutually desired by the mother and baby.
FACT: Breastfeeding contributes to poverty reduction.
Breastfeeding helps to alleviate poverty by being a low-cost way of ensuring that babies are fed and that household budgets are not burdened compared to artificial feeding.
FACT: Breastfeeding reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Moms who breastfeed for just two months reduce their baby's risk of SIDS by almost 50 percent.
FACT: Breastfeeding benefits your baby’s immune system.
Breastmilk is designed for the child’s nutritional and immunological needs, as natural antibodies and other germ-fighting factors pass from mother to baby. It is well documented that breastfed babies have fewer infections and hospitalizations than formula-fed infants.
FACT: Breastfeeding can protect and reduce the spread of flu in infants.
According to the CDC, a mother’s body makes antibodies to fight the diseases of which they come into contact. Therefore, even if you catch the flu, your breast milk is “custom made” to fight the diseases to which your infant is exposed.
MYTH: Breastmilk is harder to digest than formula.
In most babies, breastmilk is more easily digested than formula. Breastfed babies are also often less constipated and gassy.
MYTH: All breastmilk is the same.
Breastmilk composition changes daily and can even vary feeding-to-feeding. However, these changes are rarely the cause of fussy babies.
MYTH: You can’t share breastmilk.
The World Health Organization states that if a mother’s own milk is not available then the next best thing is the milk of another woman.
The Mothers’ Milk Bank of Louisiana at Ochsner Baptist accepts donated human milk following a detailed screening process of the donor. The milk is then given to infants who are born prematurely and are unable to receive enough milk from their birth mother due to maternal conditions.
Ochsner offers prenatal classes, prenatal consultations, counseling from lactation consultants, breast pump rentals and more. For more information and additional resources available within the community, call: 504-842-5210 (New Orleans) or 225-755-4448 (Baton Rouge).