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Breast Care 101 for Nursing Mothers

Updated on April 5, 2007

Holy cow - do you feel like a cow?

It's important to take good care of your breasts while breastfeeding so that the process is as enjoyable for you as it is for your baby. When your breasts are not in good health, breastfeeding can be painful or impossible. Follow these tips for breastfeeding success.

What’s Happening to My Breasts?

After giving birth it takes a while for the milk to come in. Generally you can expect the milk to flow anywhere between one and three days after childbirth. It may take longer if you've have a C-Section. Before the regular breast milk, you'll have Colostrum coming out. This is a thick pre-milk substance full of nutrition and antibodies for the newborn. Although there is not much of it, it's powerful stuff.

Breast Care Tips

  • Get as much rest as possible. Yeah, right. I know, but you've got to try, because if you don't, you'll get even less rest.

  • Eat a healthy diet to keep milk production up.

  • Feed your baby frequently. Emptying the breasts fully and promotes good breast health.

  • Feed your baby in a variety of positions to help empty the breast evenly, which may prevent some of the challenges of breastfeeding.

  • Avoid the using soap, which washes away the natural lubricant secreted by the red bumps on the areola.

  • Try Lanolin (which doesn't need to be washed off) on the nipples, but avoid other creams or lotions.

  • Ice packs on the breasts in between feedings can help to decrease swelling.

  • Massage your breasts from the armpit toward the nipple to soften them.

  • While there are things you can do to keep breasts healthy, check with your doctor if you suffer any serious conditions.

Bra Tips for Healthy Breasts

  • Get a supportive bra, preferably one with elastic reinforcement rather than underwires.

  • Make sure your bra fits properly - not pinching or binding any part of the breast.

  • Wear a bra with natural fiber lining the breast cup. Synthetic materials can trap moisture and promote infection.

  • Use absorbent nursing pads. You can make your own by cutting up and old towel.

  • Wear your nursing bra all the time, even when sleeping, to support your milk factory!

Read more from Lela at

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