Some women can't produce enough milk to breastfeed (myth 2).
It is very rare that a woman is not able to produce enough milk to breastfeed, even though that concern is often raised.6-8 Breastfeeding on demand, even at night, right after the child is born guarantees that mothers will not run out of milk.8 Over time, a breastfeeding woman's body adapts to more efficiently release milk (breasts become softer, leak less, etc.), which women could misinterpret as insufficient milk supply.9 In fact, mothers' breast milk actually adapts in both quantity and quality to the changing nutritional needs of the child.10
When babies eat frequently it means they are not satisfied by breastmilk alone (myth 3).
Just like growing children, babies go through growth spurts, causing them to eat more or less depending on their nutritional needs.11 Mothers' milk adapts to these changing needs.10 If the baby is eating more frequently, it doesn't necessarily mean that mom's milk isn't satisfying the baby, perhaps just that the baby is hungrier and experiencing a growth spurt!11
Breast milk alone for the first six months is not enough for babies (myth 4).
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first six months after birth.12,13 Breastmilk provides all of the necessary nutrition and hydration that babies require for the first six months.14 Though recent research has shown that breastfed babies15 sometimes don't get enough vitamin D, it means the mother is not getting enough vitamin D (from sunlight or supplements). The amount of vitamin D in breast milk is directly related to maternal vitamin D intake and so can be improved when needed.16 Breast milk supplies all other vitamins and minerals that babies need.
Breastfeeding a child for longer than a year is abnormal and bad for the child (myth 5).
It is completely normal and natural to breastfeed for longer than one year. Our evolutionary ancestors breastfed for 4 years on average,17 and according to primate models, mammals similar to humans breastfeed until the child's first adult molar, that's six years for humans!18,19 The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least two years. 13 Even though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that moms breastfeed for at least one year, only one in five women in the US are breastfeeding at all when their child is one year old.12 The health benefits the child gains through extended breastfeeding last a lifetime.20
Regarding Hayek breastfeeding another's child, our ancestors raised their children together ("cooperative breeding"17). In that light, what Hayek did was not so unusual.
**Check out our YOUTUBE video comparing breastfeeding and formula.**
Note: Co-authored with Elizabeth Ledden and Stephanie Sieswerda
Prior post:The Tremendous Benefits of Breastfeeding
Next post: The REAL Truth about Breastfeeding
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