8 Breast Care Tips That All Breastfeeding Mothers Should Know

When you start breastfeeding, you’ll begin to notice a lot of changes. The fluctuation in breast size as your body starts to make colostrum and mature milk is normal but will leave you feeling tender and sore. Luckily, as you start to breastfeed your breasts will go down.

These changes along with the physical act of breastfeeding will be overwhelming at first. If you know what to expect, it’s easier to take good care of your breasts and avoid or manage any problems that might arise.

Potential Breast Problems During Breastfeeding

There are a few potential problems that might arise once you start breastfeeding. If you experience any of these you should contact your caregiver to take the necessary actions to fix the problem.

Nipple Soreness

When you first start breastfeeding, you’ll experience a bit of nipple soreness. This is normal in the beginning, but might also be an indication of incorrectly feeding. You will feel soreness if your baby isn’t latching correctly or if they are in an incorrect position for feeding.

Plugged Milk Ducts

With breastfeeding, it’s recommended that you empty your breast completely during feeding. If you don’t, you have a much higher chance of developing plugged milk ducts, which lead to painful lumps. Try and unplug these ducks by massaging or gently squeezing your breast6. If your baby does not empty your breast during feeding, just pump the remaining milk out and save it for later.

Engorgement

This is a problem that almost everyone experiences at some time or another. It’s when your breasts start producing milk and they become very swollen and painful. Combat this engorgement by making sure to empty your breasts through pumping or feeding. Read more about it here.

Mastitis

From plugged milk ducts and engorgement comes an infection called mastitis. This causes your breasts to swell up even more, is very painful and often accommodated by flu-like symptoms. Talk to your caregiver about the best course of action with medication, treatment and feeding if you develop mastitis.

It’s important to note that these problems are avoidable with the proper breast care. Read on to find the best ways to avoid the problems associated with breastfeeding.

Breast Care Tips

Now that you have a bit of background on why breast care is so important during pregnancy, we’d like to give you our top 8 breast care tips that all breastfeeding mothers should know.

1. Find The Perfect Bra

One of the easiest and most important things to do throughout breastfeeding is wear the right bra. Throughout your pregnancy, your breasts will begin to engorge with milk. As they get bigger, your pre-pregnancy bras get smaller.

It’s important to make sure that your bra fits properly so that you are both comfortable and healthy. That’s why we love nursing bras. They’re made for breastfeeding, adjust to your changing breast size and ensure that the blood in your breast’s soft tissue is flowing regularly.

If you don’t want to use a nursing bra, try to find something that is supportive but not restricting. Cotton bras are a great alternative. However, you should avoid underwire bras as they may put too much pressure on your milk ducts, which leads to mastitis.

2. Hygiene, Hygiene, Hygiene

Hygiene is an important part of our every day lives, which doesn’t change when you start breastfeeding. In fact, it is even more important to practice good hygiene while breastfeeding. This is because you are at higher risk for infection when you’re lactating.

Always wash your hands before breastfeeding or touching your breast in general. Avoid washing your nipples with soap, as it removes healthy natural oils and create dry and irritated skin2. Instead, simply clean your breasts regularly with warm water.

3. Make Sure to Feed Properly

Surprisingly, the way that you feed your child has an impact on the health of your breasts. Feeding your baby correctly will help you avoid tons of different breast problems. Some of them include sore nipples, engorgement, plugged ducts and even mastisis.

In order to avoid these problems, make sure that your baby latches on correctly. It may not be perfect at first, but over time you will get better. Your baby should have the whole nipple in his/her mouth along with a large amount of your areola. Additionally, make sure that you are comfortable while you’re breastfeeding.

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. You can read more about breaking the latch here.

4. Keep It Regular

Along with feeding properly, you need to make sure that you keep a regular feeding schedule. It is recommended that you aim for about 8 – 12 feedings per day. This helps reduce engorgement in addition to building a healthy schedule for your newborn.

Another way to help keep everything normal and balanced is to feed from both breasts equally. Sometimes you might notice that your baby has a preference so just offer him or her the other breast first during your next feeding.

5. Look Into Breast Pads

To avoid embarrassing moments or discomfort while you’re out and about, look into purchasing a few breast pads. Breast pads are an added layer of security that will prevent your milk from leaking through your shirt.

If you decide to use breast pads make sure that you change them frequently and as soon as they’re wet. If you don’t change wet breast pads, your risk for infection increases. As a bonus, breast pads help to decrease soreness in your nipples, reduce thrush and lower your chances of developing mastitis.

6. Keep Things Moisturized

Avoid painful, dry and cracked nipples by moisturizing right after you’ve finished breastfeeding. It’s easier than you might think since breast milk itself has been known to be a sufficient moisturizer. After you’ve finished feeding, simply massage your nipples and areola with your breast milk.

If you need a bit more moisturizer, try a special cream made especially for nipples. Since these creams are specially made for nipples, you will be sure that no harmful chemicals or additives are being absorbed into your skin. Talk to your doctor for more information.

7. Don’t Skip Breast Exams

When you start breastfeeding, it’s important to remember that you should still be performing your monthly breast exam. They will be a bit more lumpy than usual when they’re full of milk, but feeding, massaging and pumping will help reduce the lumps.

While performing your exams, take note of any lumps that are still there after a few days. If you find something that doesn’t seem to be going away or decreasing in size then make sure you schedule an appointment with your doctor to have them properly checked.

8. Discuss Soreness With Your Doctor

Finally, have open conversations with your doctor about any nipple soreness that persists. If you’re experiencing a lot of pain, it’s best to talk to your doctor about alternative treatments or products to use without causing long term damage or harm to your baby. They will be able to recommend products that are safe and that don’t clog your milk ducts.

Conclusion

Breastfeeding is a wonderful time for you to bond with your newborn while providing unsurpassable health benefits. It’s no secret that it is extremely valuable to the health of your baby, but sometimes it takes a toll on you. We hope that our list of breast care tips will help you get through any struggles you may have. As always, if you have any pressing questions or concerns contact your doctor. Also, remember that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, expectant mothers are eligible to receive an electric breast pump covered by their insurance provider! It’s easier than ever with our large selection at Byram Healthcare.

If you have any other breast care suggestions or tips for new moms during breastfeeding, head over to our Facebook page and leave a comment today!

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