Tips for Breastfeeding and Breast Care

Breastfeeding is Natural?

If breastfeeding is one of the most natural and instinctive parts of the mother-child relationship, then why is it so difficult and painful for some women? By design, women are built to feed their children. The female body is in perfect harmony with nature, and nature is good after all...right?

Well, sometimes at least. Nature can be cruel. Not every one will experience breast feeding the same way. Whether one hires an outside consultant or takes the advice of mom, sis or friends, the breastfeeding mom needs to take care of herself physically in order to have a nurturing and nourishing experiece with baby.

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Breastfeeding Can Take a Tole on a Women's Body

The ordeal of labor and delivery can foreshadow the important details of aftercare for the postpartum mother. In my experience I only wanted to deal with getting through the delivery of my first child. The fear of the labor and delivery, contractions and needles were so terrifying that it made breastfeeding look like a cakewalk. I read many books on the subject so I thought I could just pick the baby up and viola, dinner is served. I tried to immediately nurse, but my milk had not come in yet and the pain of labor was still with me. A few days after a very beautiful delivery I had several appointments with the lactation consultant from the hospital. In less than three days I became an expert, but breastfeeding did take a tole on my body.

An Overwhelming Decision

When you announce your pregnancy to family and friends one of the first questions asked is "Are you planning on breastfeeding?" Depending on the mother this can be an easy or rather daunting decision. Although today there is more social and emotional support than ever before for the nursing mother, the whole aspect of feeding one's child and being their external lifeline to the world can be overwhelming.

These are a few tips that can make the breastfeeding experience more joyful for both mother and child.

  1. Apply lanolin crème or gel after feedings. I recommend using this before your milk comes in to condition the skin. Depending on how well the baby latches onto the nipple it may become raw by the second day of feeding. This rawness will create a crust and become hard and lead to cracking. If the crème is used the ariola will remain soft and pliant enough for the baby. The baby will reject the cracked nipples.
  2. If the crème is not available use a few drops of colostrum or breast milk to rub into the ariola and allow to air dry. This is a great natural source to sooth sore skin.
  3. Nursing pads are essential for keeping clothing dry and promoting good breast hygiene. Make sure pad is replaced with a dry pad as soon as it becomes wet.
  4. The nursing bra is a personal choice. Some women forgo the nursing bra and simply use the lift up technique. Others prefer the nursing bra for its functionality and comfort. Either way, the bra one wears when nursing should be clean, comfortable and supportive.
  5. Directly after feedings it is important to air dry. This may be difficult when feeding in public or with company, but it is safer for the breast tissue to dry naturally rather than being wiped off. Remember that the least amount of contact with the breast and ariola is the best.
  6. If possible showering every day will promote more milk to let down as well as keep the whole body clean. It is important not to let shampoos or conditioners run forward over shoulders and down to the breast area. These cleansers are not only irritating to the skin, but even if rinsed off thoroghly, residue will soak into the porus rough skin and cause a bad taste for the baby when he feeds. Try and avoid all lotions and perfumes near breasts for these reasons as well.
  7. If your nipples and breasts become so sore or engorged that you are in unbearable pain, contact your physician or the lactation consultant at your hospital. Many women find comfort in placing breast milk, tea bags or warm compresses on the areola to decrease the level of discomfort she is experienceing.
  8. Over the counter painkillers can also be used if approved by the physician. Note: When consulting your obstatrician regarding what pain killers to take it is important to consult your baby's pediatrician. Physicians do not always agree and what is safe to your OB may not be safe in the eyes of the pediatrician.


Some warning Signs While Breastfeeding

Remeber to Call your Physician if the Following Occurs:

  • You believe that you are not making enough breast milk for your baby.
  • Six days after delivery your milk has not come in.
  • You have severe pain in one or both breasts.
  • You have redness, warmth and pain in one or both breasts.
  • Anti inflamitory medices are not working and your symptoms of engorgment are lasting more than 24 hours.
  • You notice a lump in your breast that is painful to the touch.

Don't Give Up. The End-Result is Worth the Struggle

Today the mothers who choose to breastfeed have so much support and resources that with a little preparation and patience nursing can be more harmonious than harrowing. Just make sure to be patient and devoted to feeding your baby your results will pay off for both of you.

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