How to look after your breasts while breastfeeding

Pregnancy can feel a bit like having a starring role in Invasion Of The Body Snatchers – your body simply isn’t your own anymore. You feel swollen, sore, achy and, on top of all that, you’re getting kicked repeatedly in the crotch.

After nine long months, as you hold your newborn baby in your arms, you can’t help but feel that you’ve been through the wars. But as you gaze down into that tiny, beautiful face, you know it was all worth it. Besides, it’s over now, right?

Enter breastfeeding. Of course, breastfeeding is one of the most natural, beautiful ways to nourish your new baby, but that doesn’t mean it’s painless. For some women, it might be a walk in the park. For others, it could mean tearful nights tending cracked nipples, followed by days of excruciatingly painful blocked ducts. Whatever your experience of breastfeeding, it’s important you take care of your breasts.

Dress for the occasion

Firstly, you need to make sure you have appropriate attire, which starts with nursing bras. For the first few weeks at least, your breasts are likely to be swollen and engorged as your milk supply settles, and you may find it more comfortable to sleep wearing a bra. Choose a cotton, non-wired bra for this. You want it to be supportive, but not too tight. Nursing bras shouldn’t feature underwire, because this is thought to increase the risk of blocked ducts. You should be professionally measured for your first nursing bra in your 36th week of pregnancy; don’t try to guess your size because you could end up feeling uncomfortable in a badly fitting bra.

Depending on how long you breastfeed, you may well need to purchase new nursing bras as your breasts change size and shape during the months following the birth. It’s a good idea to budget for this ahead of time.

General breast care

Don’t worry, that’s not the name of an army-themed character we’ve created to tell you how best to look after yourself! Here are some tips to help you take care of your breasts during breastfeeding:

Cracked nipples

During the early days of breastfeeding, lots of mums report suffering from cracked nipples. Combined with the hormonal changes you’re currently experiencing, sore and tender nipples can make breastfeeding feel like a dreaded chore. Here are some tips to deal with cracked nipples:

Sore nipples can simply be nature’s way of toughening up your nipples for breastfeeding. But it could also be a sign of a deeper problem, such as a tongue-tie or incorrect latch. Speak to a healthcare professional if you are concerned about your baby’s latch. There are breastfeeding support groups up and down the country who can offer you help and advice to make breastfeeding easier.

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