Breastfeeding myths uncovered – part 1
Myth: “I’m worried that I will harm my baby by breastfeeding when my diet is not very good.”
In most cases, it is best to breastfeed your baby regardless of the mother’s diet quality. The baby has been sharing the mother’s diet already, having lived in utero. Babies get their first tastes of food via the amniotic fluid while in utero and, later through their mother’s milk.
Virtually all mothers, unless extremely malnourished, can produce adequate amounts of breast milk for their baby to grow. There is very little difference in the milk of healthy mothers and mothers who are severely malnourished. Most women, if breastfeeding on demand, will be able to produce enough milk for her baby, regardless of what she eats.
Diets vary around the world, and there is no perfect combination of foods one must eat while breastfeeding. Ideally, a mother would eat a varied, balanced and natural diet. This is not always available, though. Mother’s milk is designed to provide for and protect her baby even in times of hardship. In truth, a poor diet is more likely to affect the mother than her breastfed baby. The mother is likely to feel better and have more energy if she is eating a healthy diet, providing the confidence and motivation to continue breastfeeding. Showing the mother that she could feel better by eating differently may be the key to getting her to change her diet. In return, her baby will thrive (both from breast milk as well as having a healthy, happy and engaged mother).
In summary, no matter the diet quality, the mother can still meet her baby’s needs; though, Michigan State University Extension health and nutrition experts encourage mothers to maintain a healthy and balanced diet in an effort to keep themselves strong.
Other myths to bust:
- Myth: My doctor told me I can’t smoke and breastfeed
- Myth: My baby was jaundiced and I had to supplement with formula