How to Care for Your Nursing Breasts

Breast Care For Breastfeeding Mothers
How should you take care of your breasts when you're breastfeeding?. LWA/Larry Williams/Blend Images/Getty Images

How to Care for Your Breasts When You're Breastfeeding

There really isn't anything special you need to do for your breasts when you're breastfeeding — the most important thing is to remain comfortable. Here are some tips to help you care for your nursing breasts and prevent some of the common problems of breastfeeding.

9 Ways to Care for Your Nursing Breasts

  1. Wash your breasts each day with warm water in the shower or bath. Avoid using soaps, which can cause dry, cracked and irritated skin, and can remove the natural oils produced by the Montgomery glands located on the dark area surrounding your nipples. These oils clean and moisturize the nipples and areola.
  1. Wear a nursing bra or a regular bra that's supportive, but not too tight. Cotton is an excellent choice of fabric since it allows your skin to breathe.
  2. Getting your baby to latch on well from the first breastfeeding, and nursing very often — at least every 2 to 3 hours — can help prevent the development of painful breast problems such as sore nipples, breast engorgement, plugged milk ducts, and mastitis.
  3. If you are using breast pads to control leaking breasts, be sure to change them often to prevent sore nipples, thrush or mastitis from occurring.
  4. After nursing your baby, moisturize your nipples and areola by rubbing some of your breast milk on them and letting them air dry.
  5. When removing your baby from the breast, do not pull her off. Place your finger in the corner of the baby's mouth to break the suction between her mouth and your breast.
  6. If you have sore nipples, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant about using purified lanolin or hydrogel pads to help soothe your breasts. Do not use any lotions, creams or sprays without first discussing it with your healthcare provider, as many products can harm your baby, clog your milk ducts or irritate your skin even more.
  1. If you experience engorgement, cabbage leaves can be placed on hard, swollen breasts to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
  2. Continue to perform your monthly breast self-examination even though you are nursing. It's normal for your breasts to feel lumpy when they're full of milk, but the lumps should go away with breastfeeding, pumping or massaging your breasts. If you notice a lump that doesn't go away on its own within a few days, contact your doctor to have it checked.

    Your breasts may change a great deal during pregnancy and breastfeeding, or they may not change much at all. If you have any concerns about your breasts or how to care for them, contact your doctor, a lactation consultant or a local La Leche group for assistance.

    Sources:

    American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

    Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Sixth Edition.  Mosby. Philadelphia. 2005.

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