3 min read
A woman breastfeeding and drinking a cup of coffee

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for most infants. It can also reduce the risk for certain health conditions for both infants and mothers.

For babies, breast milk is rich in nutrients and contains antibodies, which help protect against illnesses. It also can help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop allergies, asthma, and diabetes. They also are less likely to become overweight.

Breastfeeding has benefits for moms as well. It’s cheaper than using formula, and it saves time on having to wash bottles or mix formula. It also helps the mom’s uterus to return to normal size after stretching during pregnancy. Breastfeeding helps make time for moms to be closer to their babies. Women who breastfeed have lower risks of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Common Myths

Even with the many benefits, there are some common myths about breastfeeding that may cause some mothers to be reluctant to try it.

Myth – Women can increase their milk supply by focusing on specific foods.

Making enough milk to meet their baby’s demands is one of the top concerns for nursing mothers. Some women supplement their diets with so-called “breastfeeding foods” in order to increase milk production. These foods include oatmeal, ginger, basil, and bananas.

It is important to remember that in general breastfeeding or pumping regularly is the greatest approach to boosting milk production. A lactation expert, a pediatrician, or doctor can help mothers figure out what is causing their milk supply problems. These professionals can help mothers determine if they are truly producing enough milk and if the infant is adequately receiving enough milk. Mothers should consult with their doctor about any underlying medical issues that may be limiting milk production.

Myth – Women should avoid certain foods, so their baby does not become gassy.

Gas generated by whatever the mother ate is frequently blamed when a breastfed infant fusses for no apparent reason. For most moms, what they eat is not going to make their baby feel awful. However, the flavor of a mother’s breast milk can change based on what they have eaten.

If there is a concern whether a baby has a food sensitivity or allergy, the following are a few warning signs to watch for:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • breathlessness or wheezing
  • eczema, hives, or a rash on the skin
  • irritability

If any of the above signs appear, contact a doctor or call 911 immediately.

Myth – Breastfeeding Causes Weight Loss

One of the most common myths about breastfeeding is that it would cause the weight acquired during pregnancy to magically disappear. However, this is not the case for everyone. Some moms find that when breastfeeding, they hold on to a little amount of weight. Because they are eating for two, breastfeeding mothers are frequently hungrier than normal.

If a mom tries to lose weight too soon after giving birth, she could potentially put her milk supply in jeopardy. Mothers should try waiting for at least two months before starting a weight loss routine so that their milk production is stabilized before attempting to reduce weight. Also, try not to lose any more than 4 to 5 pounds per month. If a mom reduces too many calories or drops weight quickly, it might influence her milk supply.

Myth – Caffeine Isn’t Allowed When Breastfeeding

Caffeine is not off limits during nursing, which is great news for women who love a cup of coffee and the energy boost it offers. Only approximately one percent of the caffeine mothers consume makes it into their breast milk, according to research.

If women choose to drink caffeine, they can have approximately two, 8-ounce cups of coffee. Remember to keep track of how much caffeine is consumed and its source. Some common sources of caffeine include

  • tea and coffee
  • soda with caffeine
  • cocoa powder with chocolate
  • some anti-inflammatories

Remember, caffeine in breast milk is more irritating to younger infants. If mothers consume coffee, or other foods and beverages, and see their infant having difficulties sleeping after nursing, they may need to reduce their caffeine intake.