Is breastfeeding not so important? It sounds like a ‘heresy’. There are many old wives’ tales about breastfeeding from years over the years.
“Breast milk is best”- advice from the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and many other reputable health agencies is that babies need to be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. It is due to the benefits for both the mother and the baby. However, the idea that mothers need to breastfeed the baby at all costs is now being advocated by old wives’ tales. It comes from small, but strongly anti-breastfeeding groups, including some doctors and researchers.
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They say that if a mother struggles with breastfeeding, the persistent pressure to pursue this will make the mother unbearable stress. Moreover, some mothers physically do not have enough breast milk, and if not found, the baby will most likely be dehydrated, and there may even be a harm to the brain.
What’s the main problem with old wives’ tales of breast milk?
Most concerning, these people say, is not whether the baby needs to be breastfed, but whether the baby is getting enough nutrition. In other words, it means that all types of feeding are appropriate.
“People talk a lot about the benefits of breastfeeding – fine, but let’s talk about the risks too, and let mothers make their own decisions,” Amy Tuteur, a former Obstetrician in the US claimed.
So, what does the evidence that we have so far say? Today’s view of breastfeeding is very different from the previous perspective. In the first half of the 20th Century, the use of formula developed alongside brands, which began to advertise that their products were superior to breast milk. Health-care workers often discourage mothers from breastfeeding and consider it an old-fashioned or low-society way of doing things.
That may be shocking for us today, as we know that breast milk contains loads of essential nutrients, such as antibacterial agents. The nutrition itself changes each time the breast is reshaped, responding to the needs of the baby. Even the first suckling with clear drops like water from the breast is also useful in helping babies from thirst.
How to handle the wrong information?
Giving inaccurate information cannot be the right thing when a woman needs to make a complicated and personal decision at a time that can be said to be very stressful in her life. The endless leaflets about the advantages of breastfeeding are distributed free of charge, but that is only true when the mother can take maternity leave for a long time.
Of course, no one recommends trusting old wives’ tales that are wrong in modern life. The current cult of breastfeeding is a good thing. Mothers can count on the help of more experts at hospitals if they have difficulty breastfeeding properly. Society is more aware that women have the right to breastfeed in public without facing negative feelings.