One of the joys and fulfilling experiences of motherhood is breastfeeding. To be able to feed her baby to satiety is every new mother’s wish. But breastfeeding does not come without its own set of problems. There are problems that range from cracked nipples to blocked ducts. However, with the right care, these problems can be avoided.
Listed below are three breast care tips that, if followed regularly will help both mother and baby go through the breastfeeding phase without any problems.
Cleanliness Of The Breasts Before And After Breastfeeding
Keeping the breasts clean and dry is very essential at all times, especially during pregnancy. Wash your breasts before and after every feed. It is important that you use plain water and nothing else. Avoid the use of soaps and other harsh chemicals. The reasons for this are many: soap contains a fragrance that lingers on even after it is washed off.
While this fragrance may seem pleasant to an adult, babies will find the smell too strong for their liking and may even refuse to feed. Babies prefer the natural smell of the mother’s breasts and may react to the strong smell of soaps. Soaps can dry the skin, causing the nipples to crack. Also, if not washed off well, the baby could ingest the soap that is stuck on the breasts.
Wash the breasts gently with warm water, paying special attention to the area around the nipples. During the first few days of breastfeeding, the breasts produce colostrum which is thick and therefore crusts around the nipple area. Wet the area well so as to soften the crusted milk and wash off.
Biting During Breastfeeding
Within a few months, the gentle and yet strong suckling of the baby will be replaced with little bites now and then. This happens because of the developing teeth. As the teeth begin to develop, you will be able to feel them when your baby suckles. Normally, the teeth do not come in the way of sucking.
There are times though, when you will feel the teeth if your baby has not latched on to the nipple properly. Depending on the age of the baby and the size of the teeth, the pain can be from mild to severe. Teeth marks and small wounds are inevitable, if the baby does not latch on to the nipple in the right manner.
What To Do
Press the nipple gently to get it erect and then guide it gently into the baby’s mouth. Older babies tend to bite into the nipple. In this case, kindly and yet firmly let the baby know your displeasure. Another way to avoid teeth marks and wounds during this stage is by not letting the baby suck on the nipple when he is not feeding. As soon as he stops feeding, gently remove him from the nipple. Do not let him sleep while staying latched on to the nipple either.
The Use Of Breast Pads
Leaks are inevitable and an embarrassment. Full breasts, a baby who refuses a feed and even even a baby’s cry when he is hungry can all lead to breast leaks. For this reason, the use of breast pads or nursing pads is advised. Disposable pads, cloth pads and stick-on silicone pads are just some of the breast pads that are available in the market.
These pads keep the nipple area and the clothes dry. Pads made of plastic are not advisable as they do not absorb the moisture. This results in the nipple remaining wet, which can lead to bacterial infections.
Choosing And Care Of Breast Pads
Use cotton pads that are soft and are made of breathable material. If using stick-on silicone pads, wash them regularly with a dilute solution of vinegar and water. When using pads, make sure they are dry. When a pad gets wet, make sure to change it immediately. This way, the breast remains clean, healthy and dry.