5 Tips for Wellness of Breast for Feeding Mothers
As the baby grows in the mother’s womb, many physiological changes take place in her body, including the region of the breasts. Both volume and size of the breasts increase during late pregnancy, which is nature’s attempt to get the mother ready to nurse her newborn baby. Doctors recommend exclusive breastfeeding for a newborn for the first 6 months. During this time, the baby is not supposed to be given water or any exogenous food. Hence, it is vital for mothers to maintain breast hygiene and wellness. Here are some good practices to be followed by nursing mothers:
- Feed your baby often – Since both first-time mothers and babies are new to breastfeeding, it may take a while for them to adjust to the new rhythm and schedule. In case the milk production is insufficient for the baby, placing it on the breast to suckle every 2-3 hours helps to trigger the flow of milk. On the other hand, mothers who produce adequate or more than adequate quantity of milk may experience fullness and pain in the breasts. This is known as engorgement. Many babies refuse to latch onto breasts that are hard and overfull. Engorged breasts also run the risk of developing infection. Milk that is infected cannot be given to the baby. So again here, breastfeeding the baby every 2-3 hours helps to empty the excess milk. Some mothers may even need to pump out excess milk with a squeezing action of their hands or a breast pump.
- Breast pads – Many a new mothers wear breast pads in order to control leaking breasts. However, it is very important to keep these pads dry and change them periodically in order to avoid thrush in the baby’s mouth (infection of the throat and mouth) and mastitis (swelling in the mammary glands).
- Care for your nipples – For some mothers, the nipples do not project outwards. In other words, they remain flat. This becomes difficult for the baby to suckle and draw milk. Nurses in the maternity care centre assist by using a special syringe to project the nipples outwards. Due to the baby’s constant suckling, sore nipples are a common phenomenon during lactation. Air drying your nipples with some breast milk after every feed can help reduce inflammation. The milk not only moisturizes the nipples, but the air also helps to firm them. Another way of keeping the nipples moist is with the application of pure ghee, pure coconut oil or creams for soreness. Since both these ingredients are safe, you wouldn’t need to worry even if your baby ingests them.
- Breast hygiene – It is also important to keep the breasts thoroughly clean during lactation. Using plain water to wash them is the best way to ensure optimal hygiene. Soaps, alcohol or any other harsh products can dry the skin, stripping it of its natural oils, thus leading to cracking. Also, avoid using deodorants, powders or perfumes during this period, as you do not want these entering your baby’s system. Make sure to wear clothes that allow your breasts to breathe. Perspiration should be wiped off using a clean, wet cloth before breastfeeding the baby.
- Self-Examination is still a must – Even if you are a lactating mother, continue performing your monthly breast self-examinations. Though the feeling of lumpiness is very common during this nursing period, the lumps go away with adequate nursing and emptying of milk. However, if you notice a lump that doesn’t go away within a few days and are experiencing flu like symptoms, please visit your doctor immediately.
Tip: Cabbage leaves can be placed on engorged breasts in order to relieve pain and inflammation.
Breastfeeding is God’s gift for mothers to create a deep bond with their babies. Make the most of these magical moments.