Although breastfeeding can be a beautiful moment, it can also get pretty messy. I can't begin to count the amount of times I sported the (non-sexy) wet T-shirt look, reused last week's nursing bra against my better judgement, and lived in spit up and breast milk. Messiness is simply par for the course of a nursing mom's life. Luckily, there are ways to keep the mess to a minimum so you can feel more like yourself and not just a milk maven. With a few breastfeeding hygiene tips no one ever taught you up your sleeve, you'll feel confident and — most of all — clean, regardless of the spills, spit up, and leaks.
The good news is that your body is amazingly equipped to keep itself clean on it's own, with just a few added steps for good measure. Verywell noted that the Montgomery Glands on a lactating mother's areola (the little raised bumps surrounding your nipple,) secrete a "natural, oily substance that cleans and lubricates the nipple and areola." Therefore, feeling like you need to clean your breasts before you feed your baby or take drastic measures to stay squeaky clean while you're nursing probably aren't necessary. If you follow these simple hygiene tips, your breastfeeding sessions might not be mess-free, but it will definitely be as hygienic and safe as possible.
1. Don't Use Scented Soaps, Alcohol, Or Lotions On Your Nipples
Although you don't need to wash your breasts before or after every feeding, Medela recommended that moms rinse their breasts with water during their daily shower and avoid using harsh, scented soaps or lotions, or anything containing alcohol on their nipples. These products can damage the skin and increase the likelihood of your nipples becoming overly dry and cracked.
2. Change Your Nursing Pads Often
If you use nursing pads to soak up any excess milk or leakage, be sure to change them frequently. Verywell warned that leaving nursing pads in too long creates the perfect warm, wet, and sugary breeding ground for bacteria or yeast to grow.
3. Avoid Tight, Restrictive Bras And Clothing
Your breasts are much different now than they were before you were breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Problems recommend that moms buy cotton nursing bras or ones that aren't too tight and restrictive to allow for maximum air flow and absorbency. There's nothing worse (or more nasty) than having to sit in a wet bra due to a messy nursing session or leaking, so be sure to buy bras that fit properly and give you enough space for a nursing pad to absorb excess moisture.
4. Rinse Your Breasts After Exercising
Although there isn't any change to the actual composition of your breastmilk if you workout, your baby may object to nursing if your breasts are sweaty post-workout. Simply showering or just rinsing your breasts with water should wash away the sweat and reduce the risk of bacteria growth, according to Breastfeeding USA.
5. Change Your Nursing Bra Everyday
Verywell also suggested that mothers change their nursing bra everyday. They're bound to get dirty much quicker than your bras did before you were breastfeeding, so you may need to get used to swapping them out more often.
6. Rinse Your Breast Pump After Every Use
According to the FDA, all breast pump parts that come into contact with your milk (like bottles, breast shields, and valves) should be rinsed and washed after every use. Not rinsing your pumps, the article stated, allows germs and bacteria to grow and potentially compromise the quality of the milk you pump. Don't worry about sterilizing your pump parts though — the FDA also recommended just using warm water and dish soap when washing your pump.