Ochsner physician shares myths and facts about breastfeeding

Ochsner physician shares myths and facts about breastfeeding
Source: Ochsner

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - World Breastfeeding Week kicks off the first week of August. The theme for 2018 World Breastfeeding Week is, Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life.


  • Aug. 1 through Aug. 7
  • Encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world

On August 1, 2014, Ochsner Medical Center Baton Rouge became the first hospital in Louisiana to receive prestigious international recognition as a Baby-Friendly designated birth facility.

RELATED: Ochsner first in state to be named "Baby-Friendly"

Four years later, in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, Ochsner OB/GYN Sharon Hedges, M.D., shares common topics often talked about when discussing breastfeeding, and whether those are myths or facts.

"In nearly all cases, we encourage mothers to breastfeed," stated Dr. Hedges.  "It's good for both mom and baby because breast milk has benefits that infant formula can't replicate. Breastmilk and formula are not the same.

"In some instances, a mother is not able to produce enough breastmilk and then we discuss alternatives, such as supplementing with formula.  All we ask is that each mom try breastfeeding first."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months after birth — and breast-feeding in combination with solid foods until at least age 1 or for as long as is mutually desired by the mother and baby.


FACT: Breastfeeding is low-cost and contributes to poverty reduction.

  • In addition, breastfeeding reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

MYTH: Breastmilk is harder to digest than formula. 

  • In most babies, breastmilk is more easily digested and breastfed babies are often less constipated and gassy.

FACT: Breastmilk is designed for the child’s nutritional and immunological needs, as natural antibodies and other germ-fighting factors pass from mother to baby.

  • It is well documented that breastfed babies have fewer infections and hospitalizations than formula-fed infants.

MYTH: All breastmilk is the same.

  • Breastmilk composition changes daily and can even vary feeding-to-feeding.  However, these changes are rarely the cause of fussy babies.

FACT: Breastfeeding can protect and reduce the spread of flu in infants.

  • According to the CDC, a mother’s body makes antibodies to fight diseases in which they come into contact; therefore, even if you catch the seasonal flu your breast milk is “custom made” to fight the diseases to which your infant is exposed.

MYTH: You can’t share breastmilk.

  • Ochsner Baptist – A Campus of Ochsner Medical Center – opened Mothers’ Milk Bank of Louisiana at Ochsner Baptist. Mothers’ Milk Bank of Louisiana received accreditation by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) in March 2018 making Louisiana the 22nd state in the U.S. to open a HMBANA approved human milk bank. The Milk Bank accepts donated human milk following a detailed screening process of a lactating woman. The milk is then given to infants who are born prematurely and are unable to receive enough milk from their birth mother due to maternal conditions.

Breastmilk may not provide enough Vitamin D, but research isn't definitive. It's important to ask your baby's pediatrician if Vitamin D supplements are necessary.

Ochsner Baton Rouge offers prenatal classes and prenatal consultations for free, daily support by International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants, breast pump rentals and a monthly support group for breastfeeding moms. Call 225-755-4448 for more information and additional resources available within the community.

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