Breastfeeding moms know that breast care changes after giving birth. The breasts undergo a number of changes during pregnancy and continue to change as a woman's milk supply comes in and her baby begins feeding. Knowing how to care for your breasts during this time will benefit both you and your new baby.
While you are breastfeeding, you will want to take care to keep your breasts and nipples clean. However, the way in which you clean your breasts while you are breastfeeding will be different from routine breast care.
While breastfeeding, wash your breasts with only warm water and a soft, clean washcloth. Never apply soap to your breasts while you are breastfeeding. Soap will remove the natural oils that are present on your breasts and nipples and will contribute to drying and cracking.
After rinsing your breasts, you might want to apply a few drops of breast milk or colostrum to your areolas. These substances will soothe and protect your nipple. In addition, some women find it beneficial to rub a few drops of corn oil or olive oil on their nipples.
Often, women who are breastfeeding will develop dry and/or cracked nipples. This can make breastfeeding quite painful. In order to soothe and heal nipples, some mothers use a breast cream, such as Pure Lan® or Lansinoh®, after they nurse. If you choose to use one of these creams, you shouldn't wash it off after application.
When buying a breast cream, look out for products that do not contain alcohol, perfume and other substances that could contribute to drying and irritation.
During pregnancy and while breastfeeding, a woman's breasts are generally larger and heavier than normal. In order to provide your breasts with the support they need during this time, you should invest in a well-fitting nursing bra that offers ample support.
In addition to wearing a support bra during the day, you may find it helpful to wear your bra while you sleep. Sleeping in a bra can provide you with much-needed support and extra comfort. If you are not comfortable sleeping in your bra, however, it is absolutely fine to remove it. When removing your bra, however, take care to remove it slowly, as moisture or milk can cause your nipples to stick to your bra.
When buying a support bra, look for one that is made with cotton. Cotton will allow good air circulation. Also, look for one that features wide straps.
Avoid nursing bras that contain underwire. Underwire bras can contribute to plugged milk ducts as well as mastitis, a bacterial infection of the breast that can cause a reduction in milk production.
At some point or another, many breastfeeding moms will experience leakage. In fact, many pregnant women will leak milk or colostrum during their second or third trimesters. Leaking milk can not only stain your clothes but can also lead to embarrassing situations. In order to keep your clothes dry, you might consider wearing nursing pads.
Many breastfeeding moms opt to use washable or disposable nursing pads. If selecting this type of nursing pad, you should look for one that is made of 100 percent cotton. This will allow air to circulate around the breasts and the nipples. Avoid pads with plastic linings, which may not allow sufficient airflow and may contribute to nipple infections.
If you don't want to buy nursing pads, you can create one by cutting a disposable diaper into the desired shape and removing the plastic lining. Also, some women use cloth diapers or handkerchiefs as nursing pads. You should not use a sanitary pad as a nursing pad, as it will prevent air from circulating.
If you use a nursing pad, you should change it or dispose of it as soon as it becomes damp. Wearing a moist pad can lead to irritation and infection.
Flora, Becky (revised January 22, 2002). All About Nursing Pads. Retrieved October 15, 2007, from the Breastfeeding Essentials Web site: http://www.breastfeed-essentials.com/allaboutpads.html.
MacDonald Women's Hospital (n.d.). breast care. Retrieved October 15, 2007, from the MacDonald Women's Hospital Web site: http://www.macdonaldwomenshospital.org/DisplayContent.aspx?PageId=83.
information on health-related topics, not medical advice, diagnosis or
treatment recommendations. Please consult your physician if you have questions