Change in the size of the breast is common during pregnancy. To add, after the mother starts breastfeeding, she experiences an entirely different set of problems – sore and cracked nipples, engorged breasts, plugged milk ducts, pain, and discomfort in the breasts. Close behind is the problem of sagging breasts as the mother slowly starts weaning her baby.
Choose the right Nursing Bras.
Many prefer to go without a bra during pregnancy. However, we advise you not to do so. As the size of the bust increases, it needs proper support. A well-fitting bra not only supports the enlarged breasts but can also help to prevent the problem of stretch marks and poorly shaped breasts. There are special bras for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Do not wear bras with an underwire. It causes plugged milk ducts. Among material choices, cotton is the best for bras when breastfeeding. Cotton bras are comfortable. They also air dry quickly and can be beneficial, particularly if you suffer breast leaks. Also, choose bras with wider straps for better support. The right bras will also help to restore the breasts to their average size and shape after breastfeeding has ceased.
Proper Feeding Techniques
Improper feeding techniques such as a poor latch could also cause sore breasts and cracked nipples. When feeding, make sure the baby latches onto the breasts properly. The breasts should be far into the mouth – the nipple and the majority of the areola. When you want to get your baby to stop suckling, break the suction with the tip of your finger.
Many women use breast pumps to relieve discomfort caused by heaviness. There is no harm in using a breast pump, but avoid using it frequently. Also, follow the instructions carefully when doing so.
Cleaning the Breasts
After a feeding session, wipe the breast with plain water. It will get rid of the saliva left on the breast. Dry it with a soft clean washcloth. As an alternative, you can also apply some of your own breast milk and let it air dry. It will condition the skin and prevent it from drying. Avoid using soaps when washing your breasts. Soaps contain ingredients such as alcohol that strip the skin of natural oils and aggravate dry, cracked nipples. If you suffer dry, cracked nipples, you can also apply some olive oil or corn oil to the nipples.
Many women leak milk right from the second and third trimesters. It stains clothes and can be very embarrassing. If you use nursing pads to plug leaks, ensure that you change them regularly. Wet and damp nursing pads unchanged for long periods can cause yeast infections and mastitis. Nursing pads should be made of 100% cotton. Try not to buy nursing pads with plastic linings. They do not allow the nipples to breathe and could result in nipple infections.
Breast Creams and Lotions
Many women consider using breast creams and lotions to heal and soothe cracked nipples. When buying breast creams, do not choose those that contain perfumes and alcohol. They dry and irritate the skin. Use the cream between feeding sessions so that there is sufficient time for the cream to work on the skin. If the ointment of lotion you use is not baby-friendly, make sure you rinse the ointment before the next feeding session.
Tips For Breast Care During Breastfeeding
Nursing comes naturally to most women, but there is no denying that a few women really struggle. There are times when your baby won’t latch. At others, your nipples are so sore that feeding sessions cause a lot of pain and discomfort. We can summarize 10 tips to care for your breasts and avoid some of the common problems of breastfeeding.
- The breasts swell during pregnancy as they start producing milk. This causes the skin over the breasts to stretch and become dry, cracked, and itchy. As a solution, wash the breasts with plain, warm water; avoid soaps as the chemicals strip the skin of natural oils that keep them soft and supple. Also, make sure the nipple area does not contact powders, deodorants, and perfumes, even by mistake.
- Moisturize the nipples after each feeding session to prevent them from getting chapped and cracked. The best moisturizer is your own breast milk. After you feed your baby, express some milk, and gently apply it to the nipples and areola. Let them dry. Alternatively, you can also rub some nipple cream or lanolin onto the nipples. Olive oil is also a good option. Treat dry, chapped, and cracked nipples at the earliest.
- Most of the common breastfeeding problems arise due to a wrong latch; sore nipples are chief among them. Therefore, you need to make sure that your baby latches on well. When your baby feeds, the nipple and the majority portion of the areola should be in his mouth. If the baby has not latched on well, break the suction and try to latch again.
- If you have to shift the baby from one breast to another, do not break the suction by pulling him off. Gently push your finger in from the corner of the mouth and try to separate his mouth and your breast.
- Invest in a good and well-fitted nursing bra. Nursing bras, unlike regular bras, are designed to offer optimum support. They also make nursing easier. Buy cotton bras as they allow the skin to breathe. Also, do not wear bras with under-wiring as it increases the chances of blocked ducts.
- Many women are blest with an abundant supply of milk. To prevent problems of engorgement, feed your baby more frequently. You can also express some milk if they are too full and firm.
- Gently massage your breast with a hot or cold compress before a breastfeeding session. This reduces the pain and discomfort as your baby suckles.
- If you use breast pads to plug leaks, make sure you replace them with clean, dry pads from time to time. Using damp breast pads for long hours at a stretch increases the chances of sore nipples, mastitis, and thrush. Wet pads are also the breeding ground for germs and bacteria. Do not buy breast pads with plastic liners.
- At times, inverted nipples make feeding sessions tough. In such cases, you can prep the nipples before you try to make your baby latch. Try to massage the nipples and the breasts, mimicking the sucking action, to raise them slightly.
- Choose a comfortable breastfeeding position. It reduces difficulties in breastfeeding.
As you breastfeed your baby, conduct a regular self-examination. They tend to feel lumpy during the initial days. If the lumps remain, you should contact your doctor. So, use these breastfeeding tips and make sure your child does not miss out on this natural and abundant source of nutrition that is breast milk.