Breastmilk production is the subject of many breastfeeding myths. There is a common misconception that a mother’s breasts are like big bottles that constantly fill with breastmilk by some magical process separate from baby and mom. Babies then feed on tap from this ever-full reservoir. However, the truth is more complicated.
We’ve all heard the expression “mommy brain,” which moms jokingly use to describe the sleep-deprived fog that can result from having children. The truth is that, while becoming a mother really does change a woman’s brain in fascinating ways, having a “mommy brain” is actually a great thing!
You spend 9 months adapting to the changes in your body due to your pregnancy, and once your baby is born, your body starts changing again.
During pregnancy, your mammary glands change as a result of a wide range of hormones, including estrogen, progesterone and prolactin. Towards the end of your pregnancy, your body starts producing colostrum, a special milk that is important to your baby in his first few days of life.
Many new moms are interested in whether their baby’s development and their own performance as a breastfeeding mom are in the range of “normal.” But the truth about breastfeeding is that every baby is different, and every mother is different. So what does that mean? Is it more confusing than ever?
Deciding when to stop breastmilk feeding your child is a personal decision that only you and your partner can answer. Leading health organizations including the World Health Organization and Health Canada recommend exclusive breastmilk feeding for the first 6 months, and continued breastmilk feeding with complementary foods until 2 years of age and beyond. The benefits of long-term breastfeeding or breastmilk feeding include a lower risk of asthma, allergies, obesity, and various infections, and a higher IQ and school performance.
Some moms have pre-existing health conditions or chronic illnesses that make them wonder if they are going to be able to breastfeed their babies. For example, some moms have flat or inverted nipples, may have gotten breast implants, or may be living with chronic conditions such as hepatitis or diabetes. What does this mean for breastfeeding?