Change in the size of the breast is common during pregnancy. To add, after the mother starts breastfeeding she experiences an entirely different set of problems – sore and cracked nipples, engorged breasts, plugged milk ducts, pain and discomfort in the breasts. Close behind is the problem of sagging breasts as the mother slowly starts weaning her baby.
Given are tips to reduce breast discomfort during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Choose the right Nursing Bras
Many prefer to go without a bra during the pregnancy. However, we advise you not to do so. As the size of the bust increases, it needs proper support. A well-fitting bra not only supports the enlarged breasts but can also help to prevent the problem of stretch marks and poorly shaped breasts. There are special bras for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Do not wear bras with an underwire. It causes plugged milk ducts. Among material choices, cotton is the best for bras when breastfeeding. Cotton bras are comfortable. They also air dry quickly and can be beneficial particularly if you suffer breast leaks. Also choose bras with wider straps for better support. The right bras will also help to restore the breasts to their normal size and shape after breastfeeding has ceased.
Proper Feeding Techniques
Improper feeding techniques such as a poor latch could also cause sore breasts and cracked nipples. When feeding, make sure the baby latches onto the breasts properly. The breasts should be far into the mouth – the nipple and majority of the areola. When you want to get your baby to stop suckling, break the suction with the tip of your finger.
Many women use breast pumps to relieve discomfort caused by heaviness. There is no harm in using a breast pump, but avoid using it frequently. Also follow the instructions carefully when doing so.
Cleaning the Breasts
After a feeding session, wipe the breast with plain water. It will get rid of saliva left on the breast. Dry it with a soft clean washcloth. As an alternative, you can also apply some of our own breast milk and let it air dry. It will condition the skin and prevent it from drying. Avoid using soaps when washing your breasts. Soaps contain ingredients such as alcohol that strip the skin of natural oils and could aggravate the problem of dry, cracked nipples. If you suffer dry, cracked nipples you can also apply some olive oil or corn oil to the nipples.
Many women leak milk right from the second and third trimesters. It stains clothes and can be very embarrassing. If you use nursing pads to plug leaks, ensure that you change them regularly. Wet and damp nursing pads unchanged for long periods of time can cause yeast infections and mastitis. Nursing pads should be made of 100% cotton. Try not to buy nursing pads with plastic linings. They do not allow the nipples to breathe and could result in nipple infections.
Breast Creams and Lotions
Many women consider using breast creams and lotions to heal and soothe cracked nipples. When buying breast creams do not choose those that contain perfumes and alcohol. They dry and irritate the skin. Use the cream between feeding sessions so that there is sufficient time for the cream to work on the skin. If the ointment of lotion you use is not baby friendly, make sure you rinse the ointment before the next feeding session.