Breast Care For The Non-breast Feeding Woman
What happens to a woman's breasts during and after pregnancy?
Breast Care For The Non-breast Feeding Woman Care Guide
- Breast Care For The Non-breast Feeding Woman
- Breast Care For The Non-breast Feeding Woman Aftercare Instructions
- Breast Care For The Non-breast Feeding Woman Discharge Care
- En Espanol
During pregnancy, a woman's breasts prepare for lactation. Milk usually comes in 3 to 4 days after the pregnancy ends, but this may happen later for some women. Breast milk production will begin if you had a baby vaginally or if you had a cesarean section (C-section).
What happens to my breasts if I do not breastfeed?
Your production of breast milk will stop by itself over time. Before this happens, you may have any of the following signs and symptoms:
- Milk leakage: Your breasts may leak a medium to large amount of milk. Drops of milk may come from your breasts for weeks after your pregnancy.
- Breast engorgement: Your breasts may feel hard to the touch. You may see swelling and feel pressure, discomfort, or pain for up to 10 days after your pregnancy ends. Breast swelling can cause you to get a fever and have muscle aches. Although engorgement can be uncomfortable, it helps your body decrease breast milk production.
How do I care for my breasts?
Your caregiver may suggest any of the following:
- Wear a bra that fits correctly and provides firm support: A well-fitting bra that is not too tight may decrease breast pain and the amount of milk that leaks from your breasts. A supportive bra can also decrease the symptoms of engorgement. Your caregiver also may tell you not to stimulate your nipples.
- Place ice packs on your breasts: This helps decrease breast swelling and pain. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a bag and cover it with a towel. Move the ice packs every 10 minutes, or as directed by your caregiver.
- Release a small amount of milk from your breasts to decrease pressure and discomfort: To do this, place your nipples in a sink full of warm water. Hot compresses or warm showers may also cause some milk to leak from your breasts. Talk to your caregiver about using your hands or a breast pump to remove a small amount of milk from your breasts. If you use a breast pump, remove just enough milk to decrease pain and discomfort. Each time you pump, do it for a shorter time period. Allow more time to pass between pumping sessions to slowly decrease the amount of milk that you make.
- Ask about medicines to decrease your breast pain or discomfort: Your caregiver may suggest that you take over-the-counter pain medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. These medicines can decrease pain and swelling. Your caregiver may also suggest that you take medicine that can help stop your breasts from producing milk.
When should I see my caregiver for a follow-up visit?
You may need to see your caregiver 3 to 5 days after the end of your pregnancy. Tell your caregiver about your symptoms. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
When should I contact my caregiver?
Contact your caregiver if:
- You have very painful breasts.
- You have a fever and muscle aches that last longer than 1 day.
- You feel or see a lump in your breast.
When should I seek immediate help?
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You have breast swelling that gets worse, even with treatment.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of the Blausen Databases or Truven Health Analytics.
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.