Breast Care For The Breast Feeding Mother
Why is breast care important while breastfeeding?
Breast Care For The Breast Feeding Mother Care Guide
- Breast Care For The Breast Feeding Mother
- Breast Care For The Breast Feeding Mother Aftercare Instructions
- Breast Care For The Breast Feeding Mother Discharge Care
- En Espanol
Your breasts will 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. Breast care can help you prevent and manage problems so you and your baby can enjoy the benefits of breastfeeding.
What breast changes happen while breastfeeding?
- For the first few days after your baby is born, your body makes a small amount of breast milk (colostrum). Within about 2 to 5 days, your body will begin making mature milk. It may take up to 10 days or longer for mature milk to come in. Health problems, such as diabetes or obesity, may cause a delay. Flat or inverted nipples also may cause your milk to come in later than expected. When your mature milk comes in, your breasts will become full and firm. They may feel tender.
- Breastfeeding your baby will decrease the full feeling in your breasts. You may feel a tingly sensation 1 or more times during feedings as milk is released from your breasts. This is called the milk let-down reflex. After 7 or more days, the fullness may feel like it has decreased. Your nipples should look the same as they did before you started breastfeeding. Breasts that feel full before and empty after breastfeeding are signs that breastfeeding is going well.
What breast problems can occur while breastfeeding?
- Nipple soreness: Your nipples may feel sore when you begin to breastfeed your baby. A small amount of nipple pain is normal. Place warm, wet compresses on your nipples to help decrease pain. You may also have nipple soreness if your baby does not latch on to your breast correctly. Correct positioning and latch-on may decrease or stop the pain in your nipples. Work with your caregiver to help your baby latch on correctly.
- Plugged milk ducts: Plugged ducts cause painful breast lumps. Plugged ducts may be caused by not emptying your breasts completely during feedings. When your baby pauses during breastfeeding, massage and gently squeeze your breast. Gentle massage may unplug a blocked milk duct. Pump out any milk left in your breasts after your baby is done breastfeeding. Do not wear underwire bras or tight clothing over your breasts.
- Engorgement: Your breasts may become swollen and painful as your milk comes in soon after you begin breastfeeding. This is called engorgement. You may also become engorged if you miss a feeding or you do not breastfeed on demand. The best way to decrease engorgement symptoms is to empty your breasts by feeding your baby often. Engorgement can make it hard for your baby to latch on to your breast. If this happens, express a small amount of milk and then have your baby latch on. Cold compresses, gel packs, or ice packs on your breasts can help decrease pain and swelling.
- Breast infections: Plugged milk ducts and engorgement can lead to a breast infection called mastitis. Mastitis causes your breasts to become red, swollen, and painful. You may also have flu-like symptoms, such as chills and a fever. Place heat on your breasts to help decrease the pain. You may want to place a moist, warm cloth on the painful breast or both of your breasts. Ask your caregiver how often to do this. Your caregiver may suggest that you take an NSAID, such as ibuprofen, to decrease pain and swelling. Your caregiver may also order antibiotics to treat mastitis. Ask your caregiver about feeding your baby when you have a breast infection.
What can I do to help prevent or manage breast problems while breastfeeding?
- Learn how to position your baby and latch him on correctly: To latch your baby correctly to your breast, make sure that his mouth covers most of your areola (dark area around your nipple). He should not be attached only to the nipple. Your baby is latched on well if you feel comfortable and do not feel pain. After you breastfeed your baby, your nipple should be its normal shape. Hold your baby correctly to make sure he has a good latch. This helps him get enough milk and can help to prevent sore nipples and other breast problems. If you have flat or inverted nipples, ask caregivers how to position your baby and help him latch on correctly.
- Prevent biting: Your baby may get teeth at about 3 to 4 months of age. To help prevent biting, do not let your baby keep sucking when he is finished breastfeeding. Take him off of your breast once he is finished or if he has fallen asleep. If your baby bites you, respond with surprise or unhappiness. Offer praise when he does not bite you.
- Breastfeed your baby regularly: Feed your baby 8 to 12 times a day. You may need to wake up your baby at night to feed him. It is okay to feed from 1 or both breasts at each feeding. Your baby should breastfeed from both breasts equally over the course of a day. If your baby only feeds from 1 side during a feeding, offer your other breast to him first for the next feeding.
- Schedule and keep follow-up visits: Talk to your baby's caregiver or your caregiver during follow-up visits if you have breast problems. Caregivers may suggest that you, or you and your partner, attend classes on breastfeeding. You also may want to join a breastfeeding support group. Caregivers may suggest that you see a lactation consultant. This is a caregiver who can help you with breastfeeding.
When should I contact my caregiver?
Contact your caregiver if:
- You have a fever and chills.
- One or both of your breasts are red, swollen or hard, painful, and feel warm or hot.
- You have breast engorgement that does not get better within 24 hours.
- You see or feel a lump in your breast that hurts when you touch it.
- You have nipple pain during breastfeeding or between feedings.
- Your nipples are red, dry, cracked, or bleeding, or they have scabs on them.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn as much as you can about breastfeeding. Ask your caregivers questions about breast care. Work with them to decide what care is best for you and your baby.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.