How To Take Care Of Your Breasts While Breastfeeding (They Deserve Some Extra TLC)
Breastfeeding takes a lot of time and energy. It also puts quite a bit of wear on your boobs. They are working hard for your baby, after all. If you're nursing a little one, it's important to learn how to take care of your breasts while breastfeeding. These lactation consultants have some helpful ways to pamper your girls and yourself through your breastfeeding experience.
For general pampering, Morgan Michalowski, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and postpartum nurse, tells Romper in an email interview to treat your breasts like “the hardworking friends they are.” She says you should absolutely splurge on that new great bra (or a few of them actually) and nourish your skin with vitamin E or almond oil.
If you’re experiencing some of the usual not-so-fun aspects of breastfeeding like sore nipples, engorgement, stretch marks, and pumping pain, there are some great ways to make your breasts feel better.
Andrea Tran, registered nurse and IBCLC, tells Romper to utilize the random stuff in your freezer, like frozen peas, to help with engorgement and swelling. “Bags of frozen peas are inexpensive and will mold nicely around your swollen breasts,” she says. Michalowski adds that hand expression and a breast massage in a warm shower will soothe uncomfortable breasts if you’re dealing with the swelling and engorgement associated with the early days of breastfeeding. She also suggests breastfeeding frequently and even doing so in a warm bath. Not only is this soothing, she says, but it helps with engorgement. While in the bath, Michalowski recommends a warm or cold towel on the breast you are not feeding on for extra relief. "A warm towel helps express milk, and a cold towel reduces swelling," she explains. "Equally good, but each serves a different purpose.”
However, Michalowski warns, if your engorgement doesn’t go away after the first few days postpartum, check in with your doctor or lactation consultant to make sure your baby is removing milk with each nursing session.
For chapped and sore nipples, Michalowski suggests using non-toxic nipple cream that you don’t have to wipe off before feeding your baby. She also suggests wearing soft fabrics that don’t irritate your nipples and using reusable fabric nursing pads, which are softer against your tender nipples.
I've used these reusable fabric nursing pads from Bamboobies, and they sure made my boobs feel pampered. They are luxuriously soft, did a great job protecting against leaks, and they’re machine washable. I loved them. However, if your nipples have cracks as opposed to chapped skin, see your lactation consultant because that could be a sign of something like shallow latch or thrush. She also suggests getting gel pads to soothe your nipples. Pro tip: Get two pairs. “If mom gets two pairs she can always have one on and one in the fridge. The extra cooling from being refrigerated is extra soothing," she says.
For pumping moms, Michalowski recommends making sessions more fun or relaxing by playing music, which studies show helps boost milk supply. Lowering the suction of your pump and trying a meditation app like Expectful can also help ease the mood. Still feeling a little discomfort? Tran suggests using just a dab of lanolin where the breast pump flange starts to flare out, to prevent pain.
So, yes, breastfeeding is difficult for a lot of moms, especially in the beginning. Good thing there are ways to make it more enjoyable and to pamper your boobs through it.
Andrea Tran, registered nurse and IBCLC
Morgan Michalowski, IBCLC, postpartum nurse and founder of Gravida
Ak J, Lakshmanagowda PB, G C M P, Goturu J. Impact of music therapy on breast milk secretion in mothers of premature newborns. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26023551