During breastfeeding emphasis is always given on how to improve breast milk quality, what to eat and why it is important for the mother to continue breastfeeding. Nobody speaks about the kind of care the mother should give to the breasts, the organs producing food for the baby and working overtime during this phase. Even I didn’t receive much advice on how to handle them during breastfeeding. But through trial and error, I found out the best way to keep my breasts pain free and healthy. Sharing them here.
Don’t neglect cracked nipples: Sore and cracked nipples are common during the initial days of breastfeeding. Improper positioning of baby at the breast could be one reason for this. They need attention as they don’t resolve on their own. If you don’t address the problem, it could worsen your breastfeeding experience and the pain. Applying a mild ointment like lanoline can help. Take care of them as soon as you feel the soreness and spot the cracks.
Don’t apply creams just before the feeds: Apply your ointments and creams to treat the soreness and cracks in between the feeds, but not right before breastfeeding. These creams or lotions might have chemicals which aren’t suitable for the baby and can lead to digestion problems or vomiting if ingested. If you are using such ointments or creams, wipe your nipples with a clean wet cloth before offering feed.
Don’t apply soap to the nipples: Avoid using soap and water to wash the nipples, especially if they are cracked. As this could wash away the natural moisture from the surface and leave them dry causing more pain and discomfort.
Avoid wearing tight or underwire bras: The nursing bras are the best bet at this time. They give you comfort, support and are designed to keep your lactating breasts in shape. The tight bras and the underwire ones can just aggravate breast pains and cause discomfort if you are wearing them for long hours.
Don’t allow engorgement to become a serious problem: Breast engorgement is common during the initial weeks when you and your baby are still trying to establish the demand and supply routine. When this happens, try to empty your breasts, else it could lead to problems like mastitis, blocked milk ducts or give rise to pain and infection. One way to do it is by offering your baby a feed, if your baby refuses feed, use a breast pump to remove milk and store it for later use. Alternatively, you can also use your hands to drain out the milk.
Don’t feed always from one side: The right thing to do during breastfeeding is to offer feed from both the breasts one after the other. While many believe in feeding from one breast at a time, which depends on a mother’s convenience and comfort, emptying both breasts during one feed can ensure that neither gets engorged between feeds and the baby doesn't have to work hard emptying an engorged breast later. It could make the baby choke on breast milk.
Don’t use synthetic breast pads: If you have leaky breasts, one way to counter it is by using breast pads. However, stick to the cotton ones as they allow the skin to breathe and usually don’t lead to infections or rashes in and around the nipples.
Avoid thrush infections: Thrush infection that can affect the nipples is quite common. It can be transferred to the baby during breastfeeding, which can spread to the oral cavity of the child. It can be painful for the young one. So if you are not careful, you might end up giving the thrush infection to your child too.