For those mum’s who choose to breastfeed, their breast have taken on a whole new meaning and are your little one’s source of nutrients as they feed. So it is so important that you look after your breast when breastfeeding.
During pregnancy, your body goes through a lot of amazing changes as it carries your little one and prepares for birth. On the long list of changes is how your breasts develop and change to make it possible to feed your baby. You’ll notice an increase in size, possibly darker nipples, stretch marks and tenderness.
For those who breastfeed, they will see even more changes happen, over your baby’s first few days, your body goes from producing small amounts of thick colostrum, to larger amounts of more mature, liquid breast milk. When this happens more blood flows to your breasts and they feel heavier and more tender as you will initially have more milk than you need for your baby. There will also be the possibility of sore and cracked nipples which is very common and can effect mum’s comfort and ability to feed.
So we wanted to bring together some of our top tips and advice to help you care for your breasts whilst breastfeeding.
Most women will experience a breast growth spurt as they grow to accommodate the milk. One of the easiest and most important things to do throughout breastfeeding is wear the right bra, wearing a supportive bra can go a long way in alleviating any aches. Choose a nursing bra or regular bra that fits you well, it may help to go get measured to know exactly what your new size is. Nursing bra’s are one of those breastfeeding saviours, not only do they make feeding so much easier, they also adjust to your changing breast size to ensure that your boobs are restricted.
We all know hygiene is an important part of our every day lives, but it is even more important to practice good hygiene while breastfeeding because you are at higher risk for infection when you’re lactating. Always wash your hands before breastfeeding or touching your breast in general. Doctors recommend avoiding washing your nipples with soap, as it removes healthy natural oils and can create dry and irritated skin. Instead, simply clean your breasts regularly with warm water.
Breast pads are often used to help absorb any leaks for that extra peace of mind to prevent milk leaking through to your shirt. However, they do also help to decrease soreness in your nipples, reduce thrush and lower your chance of developing mastitis. Make sure that you change them frequently and as soon as they are wet.
A good latch
Breastfeeding does take a little practice for both mum and baby so don’t be too hard on yourself if it’s proving a little tricky right now. Whilst you’re both getting the hang of it there can be a period of discomfort and this can be down to the fact your little one isn’t feeding or latching on quite right yet. Feeding your baby correctly will help you avoid tons of different breast problems. Some of them include sore nipples, engorgement, plugged ducts and even mastitis.
To get your baby to latch, hold the little one close to you, and wait until your baby opens their mouth wide before bringing your baby to your breast. Don’t try to lean towards the baby. Your nipple should go towards the roof of their mouth. If your nipple is closer to the front of their mouth, you might not be latched properly. Your baby should have the whole nipple in his/her mouth along with a large amount of your areola. If your baby doesn’t open their mouth up, you can encourage them to do so by stroking their upper lip.
When it’s time for you to break the suction, never pull your baby off of your breasts. The proper technique is simply putting your clean finger in the corner of your baby’s end breastfeeding correctly.
Keep it regular
Keeping your feeding regular keeps your milk flow at it’s optimum and your breasts feeling comfortable. Keeping it regular can help alleviate engorgement or tenderness, it’s also a good idea is to feed equally from both breasts to keep it balanced.
Your boobs and nipples are working harder than ever before to keep your little one going, and they deserve to be pampered. Taking a few extra steps to care for your nipples can help prevent them from getting sore or cracked. Moisturising your nipples right after feeding can help, in fact breast milk itself is known to be a great moisturiser. After you’ve finished feeding, simply massage in some of the left over milk into your nipple and areola.
Alternatively, or if you just want to give your nipple some much deserved extra TLC, we suggest getting a balm or cream especially for nipples. Choosing one designed especially for nipples will ensure there are no harmful chemicals or ingredients that could do more harm to you and your little one than good. We love the Green People soothing nipple cream.
Get an experts opinion
Whilst a little pain and discomfort is extremely common, especially in the early stages, if you have persistent or increased pain at any time you should always consult your GP or midwife.