Breastfeeding Week In India: Let’s Bust Some Indian Breastfeeding Myths
Mangaluru: The first week of August every year is celebrated as ‘World Breastfeeding Week’ – religiously by obstetricians, midwives , lactation educators and birth counsellors all over the world. It’s a week where we remind our new moms and their families that breastfeeding – early and exclusive – is required for sustaining life.
The covid-19 pandemic does not miss a mention in any platforms. And this year the pandemic has given new meaning to our advertising and propagating the importance of Breastfeeding. The Theme for WBW 2020 is ‘Support breast feeding for a healthier planet’.This year has made us realize that Holistic health and Innate immunity – are our saviours at the very end of the dark tunnel. Persons with a good innate immune system and those with a healthy lifestyle have responded better to exposure and disease in the last few months.
The practice of maternal bonding and breastfeeding have been around since time immemorial. Human and Maternal instinct gave birth to the beautiful practice of breast feeding. As with most ancient Indian traditions , the post delivery practice of early breastfeeding has been handed down from generations – with many beliefs that have an actual scientific basis and many that do not.
So here are some popular Breastfeeding Myths and the truths behind them:
Myth two :A breastfeeding baby needs extra water in hot weather
Truth : Breast milk contains all the water a baby needs.
Myth three:A mother should wash her nipples each time before feeding the baby.
Truth: Breast milk protects the baby against infection. Washing nipples before each feed makes breastfeeding unnecessarily complicated and washes away protective oils from the nipple.
Myth four : Breast milk does not contain enough iron for the baby’s needs
Truth : Breast milk contains just enough iron for the baby’s needs. If the baby is full term he will get enough iron from breast milk to last him at least the first six months.
Myth five:If the mother has an infection she should stop breastfeeding
Truth : With very few exceptions, the mother continuing to breastfeed will actually protect the baby.The baby’s best protection against getting the infection is for the mother to continue breastfeeding.
Myth six :If the baby has diarrhea or vomiting, the mother should stop breastfeeding
Truth : The best medicine for a baby’s gut infection is breastfeeding. One can Stop other foods for a short time, but continue breastfeeding. Breast Milk is the only fluid the baby requires when he has diarrhea and/or vomiting, except under exceptional circumstances.
Myth seven :Modern formula’s are almost the same as breast milk.
Truth : Modern formula milk is only superficially similar to breast milk. Formula’s contain no antibodies, no living cells, no enzymes, no hormones. They contain much more aluminum, manganese, cadmium, lead and iron than breast milk. They contain significantly more protein than breast milk.Your breast milk is made as required to suit your baby. Formula’s are tailor made to suit every baby. Formula’s succeed only at making babies grow well, but along with nutrition breastfeeding has many more advantages and is way superior.
The world is moving towards sustainable living – A Greener planet and Healthier naturalistic lifestyle. This breastfeeding week lets pledge to make the traditional practice of breastfeeding – a stepping stone for sustainable living.
Lets EMPOWER, EDUCATE, and ENCOURAGE our new MOMS to build a healthy future for the world this way.
As a gynecologist and a mom who has lived and witnessed the effects of good breastFeeding – I decided that education begins at home! So here are some coloring by my little ones, incorporated in my article.
Acknowledgement : Mrs Pramila D’souza , Lactation consultant , FMMCH
Dr.Joylene DAlmeida is a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Father Muller Medical College, Mangaluru-also doing Consultation in Pulse polyclinic