Breast milk helps the development of different organs and especially the brain. Returning to the world of work after childbirth is an enormous challenge that mothers must assume after the period of maternity leave.
Added to this challenge is the number of myths that revolve around breastfeeding, many of them based on beliefs and customs. For this reason, the College of Nutrition Professionals (CPN) seeks to make these challenges visible within the framework of Breastfeeding Week, which was commemorated between August 1st and 7th, of the current year.
Nursing mothers need support from their environment
Nutrition specialists have been emphatic in remembering that eliminating the supply of breast milk inhibits the newborn from having the nutrients it needs in its first months of life, since this food helps the development of different organs, especially the brain. In addition, it helps to strengthen the emotional bond with the mother.
According to Dr. Ingrid Broitman, representative of the CPN and counselor in breastfeeding, when a lactating woman returns to work, a great effort is required not only on her part, but also on the environment that surrounds her; family members, work colleagues, and the employer. “The mother must prepare in advance, at least one or two months beforehand; she must also define if it is in the nursery or another person who will be in charge of preparing the feeding in a hygienic and adequate way so that milk continues to be the main food of the baby in the first months of life”, said the specialist.
The workplace must also be prepared. Not only should it have a hygienic and comfortable space so that the mother can express milk from it and clean the utensils (the bathroom is not recommended), but she should not be pressured by the time that this process lasts.
At the end of her work, now comes the family’s responsibility. The mother arrives tired, so it is necessary that they help her clean her instruments to be able to give milk to her baby, that they have food prepared for her and that they can support her in the other household chores.
Myths around the process
There are also myths surrounding nursing mothers. Dr. Angie Jiménez, from the Costa Rican Association of Pediatric Nutrition, highlighted some of them:
–The amount of milk is not enough to fill the baby. In the first 3 or 4 days, mothers worry that their breasts feel empty and think that they are not producing enough milk. This myth is false, because the boy or girl manages to suck a few drops of a substance called colostrum from the breast. The newborn’s stomach is the size of a cherry equivalent to 7 milliliters, so the droplets of colostrum are enough. “The mother who has good support, who prepares herself during pregnancy and who knows about breastfeeding will always produce what the baby needs”, Jiménez mentioned.
–Drink more fluids or eat food to produce milk. The constant sucking of the baby is what generates a greater production. The mother should drink the liquid as the body asks for it, but not in excess, as this can generate rather an adverse effect. It is advisable to drink about two liters of water per day, a varied and natural diet, which includes fish or shellfish since their amount of lipids contributes to milk. Consumption of popularly suggested products such as sweet water, barley, cas, and even marshmallows are not recommended. Instead of increasing milk production, these practices cause the mother to gain weight.
–Does she not eat well? During the growth spurt process, around 4 months, the baby tends to get very distracted and stops feeding within 5 minutes. The mother tends to think that her son or daughter has not fed well; however, at that stage the boy or girl learned to suck so well that in such a short time he or she is satisfied.
–After a certain time the milk does not feed. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 2 years to breastfeed the baby, her brain development continues up to 3 years, so prolonged breastfeeding is recommended. After a certain time, the same body stops producing milk, but it does not mean that it has an expiration date.