Taking care of your nipples and breasts during breastfeeding

Most new mothers are prepared for pregnancy to be uncomfortable, delivery painful and the postpartum period to be a cakewalk compared to the big two.

However, for the records, breastfeeding is a ‘scream’ at least for the first few days! 

Your nipples pain, you have breast engorgement or not enough milk, your baby doesn’t latch on to suckle…you are depressed, over-emotional and sleep deprived. 

Any new mom can expect some nipple-mangling. It goes with the job. C’mon, your nipples are exposed to a vacuum in your baby’s mouth 8-10 times a day; it’s but natural that they will get a bit bruised. 

But, if the bruising and pain doesn’t subside within a week when both you and your little bundle of joy start discovering the joys of breastfeeding- then you have a problem at hand. 

And ‘sista’ you or your baby must be doing something wrong!

That’s why we are here. Don’t worry, you are at the right place as I have pulled together tips and suggestions to set you up for the best breastfeeding experience possible.

1.    Take care of the latch 

Making sure your baby is getting a good latch is absolutely essential for your nipple health.

When your baby doesn't get a good latch, she is literally hanging on to your nipple making it scream in pain when a waft of air hits it. 

In order to escape the mangling, make sure your baby is opening her mouth wide and taking your nipple and areole deep into her mouth. 

Once, you both get into your stride, you will notice that your baby is using her tongue and jaw to suck milk from your breast and when you look down, you see her mouth wide open and full of breast. 

If she has just her lips wrapped around your nipple, unlatch her gently and try to latch her back again and make sure she takes as much of your breast into her mouth this time.

2. Unlatch gently

This one is worth its weight in gold. Just as you and your baby need to learn how to latch on, you also need to find out how to unlatch or remove your boob from your baby’s mouth. 

If your baby doesn’t unlatch herself, never just pull your breast from her mouth as it’s going to cost you – read give you nipple pain and tenderness.

The right way to unlatch is to slip your little finger between your breast and your baby's mouth and break the latch. 

3. Use different positions during breastfeeding

Feeding in the same position every time can cause nipple tenderness too. So, if you have been feeding your baby in the cradle position for some time, just shake things up a bit and feed her lying down. Change is good! Even for your nipples.

4. Nurse often to drain engorged breasts

Now we move to the whole mammary instead of just talking about the nipple. What happens usually is that you have mangled nipples and you decide to extend the time between feeds or feed only from the breast that doesn’t hurt.

What happens now is engorgement of the breast which is not being used for feeding. Experts call it inertia of breastfeeding rest! Just kidding!

The poor breast keeps making milk and all this milk doesn’t get an out. This leads the milk glands to get engorged and this can be mighty painful, mind you.

Some women call it like wanting to pee all the time and not being able to…

The only way out is to grit your teeth against the nipple pain and nurse as often as you were doing earlier so that your breasts are as drained as possible. 

When your breast is engorged, it becomes hard and this makes it even harder for your baby to latch on and this can lead to blocked milk ducts and mastitis. 

For avoiding this, apply a warm washcloth to your breast before you breastfeed to soften it up.

5. Dry breasts in air after a feed

Whenever you can, leave your breasts uncovered to expose your nipples to air. This is very healthy as when you let the air flow around your nipples it will avoid drying and cracking.

Do keep your nipples clean, but don’t use soap to wash them and avoid rubbing them as this will damage them.

6. Art of lubrication

Make this a part of your nipple-care regime- Express a few drops of milk after feeding, massage them gently into the nipple and the areola and let it dry. If this doesn’t work, you can apply little lanolin to your nipples and areolae as it supports moist wound healing.

In the end, avoid any kind of non-breathable plastic lining in bra pads and don’t wear under-wired bras while you are feeding.

Give breastfeeding some time and I promise that you and your baby will be alright and so will be your ‘girlies’. 

About the Author

Shikha Gandhi