Breastfeeding Mothers: How to take care of your breasts

Taking care of my breasts
Your breasts are the only source of your baby's food for the first six months, that is if you plan to breastfeed exclusively. For those who will decide to keep on breastfeeding for a year or two, that's even more work for your breasts.

Why breast care is important while breastfeeding?

Your breasts are likely to go through normal changes while you are breastfeeding. Sometimes breast and nipple problems can develop while you are breastfeeding. Learn about changes that are normal and those that may be a problem or not normal. Breast care can help you prevent and manage problems so you and your baby can enjoy the benefits of breastfeeding.

Here are some tips to help you take good care of them and avoid common breastfeeding problems.

You should clean them daily with warm water and a towel.

Make sure that the baby is well-positioned at the breast and latches on correctly. Change your baby's feeding position often. Vary nursing positions throughout the day. At least once during each feed, position the baby so that the jaw points towards the plug.

If you do have cracked nipples, you might find some relief by expressing a few drops of breast milk and gently rubbing them on your nipples after breastfeeding. Also, applying a small amount of lanolin after feeding helps.

If you use disposable breast pads, remove them when they get wet. If you prefer reusable pads, keep the pads and your bras clean to prevent infection.

Always breastfeed or express the milk when your breasts are full to avoid engorgement. However, putting cabbage leaves on your swollen breasts is a common home remedy to relieve the pain that comes from breast engorgement.

Try and avoid tight bras or clothes as this may cause discomfort and even more serious problems such as blocked ducts.

If you feel hard and painful lumps on your breast, that is most likely a blocked milk duct. But if it is accompanied by fever and flu-like symptoms and/or your breasts are inflamed, that is most likely a breast infection, otherwise known as mastitis.

Let baby finish feeding at one breast before switching to empty the breast sufficiently.

Rest often. If possible, go to bed with your baby, nurse often, and stay in bed until you feel better. If this is not possible, spend an hour or two relaxing with the baby at your breast and your feet up.

It is advisable to seek medical attention when problems occur but you can relieve the pain by massaging the affected breast gently. Both problems are caused when breast milk is not drained adequately. Therefore, avoid feeding on one breast only and get your child to latch on properly.

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