Nursing comes naturally to most women, but there is no denying it 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. Here are 10 tips to care for your breasts and thereby 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 come in contact with 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 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 the other, 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 increase 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.