Breastfeeding is one of the most rewarding yet challenging phases for new moms. Along with nourishment for your precious baby, it also brings massive changes for your breasts.
As a breastfeeding mama, your breasts go into overdrive, producing pint after pint of liquid gold for your little one. But this increased workload can spell trouble in the breast health department if you're not careful.
From leaks and lumps to sensitivity and pain, there's a whole range of issues that can crop up. This guide will explore common breast problems during breastfeeding and - more importantly - how to avoid and treat them.
With a little TLC for the girls, you'll keep your breasts feeling their best as you embark on your breastfeeding journey. Let's get started!
The Power of a Proper Bra Fit
One of the most important things you can do for your breast health during breastfeeding is wearing a properly fitted nursing bra. Consider it the MVP supporting your heavy, milk-filled breasts. But what exactly makes a quality nursing bra?
- First, opt for soft, breathable fabrics without any itchy tags or seams that could irritate delicate skin. Underwire styles should also be avoided as they can lead to clogged ducts and mastitis.
- Get sized by a professional bra fitter, both prenatally and after your milk comes in. Band size and cup volume fluctuate wildly during breastfeeding. An expert can help you find the right fit.
- Look for wide side bands and adjustable straps designed to lift and disperse weight. This prevents intense pressure points and distributes strain for comfortable all-day wear.
- Be ready to size up as your supply increases after birth. Pay attention to any bulging, tightness or breast tissue spilling over the cups - definite signs it's time to go up a size or two. Don't be shy about frequent professional re-fittings.
- Also, limit time spent in nursing bras to allow skin to breathe. Change disposable nursing pads frequently to stop moisture buildup leading to infection.
- Gently machine wash and air dry bras after every wear rather than harsh machine heat that deteriorates elastic. Proper care keeps them in tip-top shape.
Taking the time to find well-constructed, comfy nursing bras tailored to your postpartum breasts provides much-needed support.Related reading: Is It Necessary to Wear a Breast Pump Bra for Breastfeeding Moms?
Preventing and Treating Plugged Ducts
That feeling when your breast becomes tender and swollen? You likely have a plugged milk duct, a clogged passage preventing milk from flowing freely. When such situation happens, it requires prompt attention to avoid complications like mastitis.
Causes include pressure on the breast, restrictive bras, dehydration, skipped feedings, and abrupt weaning.
Take these actions at the first sign of a plug:
- Massage the area, focusing pressure toward the nipple. A warm compress beforehand aids milk flow.
- Ensure proper latch so baby's sucking fully empties all ducts.
- Nurse frequently, starting on the affected side, to clear the plugged duct.
- Use reverse pressure softening by leaning over or dangling breast toward floor.
See the doctor if you develop fever, chills and flu-like achiness, signaling an infection called mastitis. Antibiotics are usually prescribed to clear infected plugged ducts promptly.
Soothe Nipple Sensitivity and Pain
It's common to experience nipple tenderness and sensitivity when starting out breastfeeding. But with a few simple remedies, your nipples don't have to feel raw and on fire.
After feeds, coat nipples in purified lanolin cream to heal damage. Sooth pain away with refrigerated gel pads. Stay topless to air dry nipples after nursing.
Examine baby's latch to ensure their mouth covers the entire areola, not just the tip. A lactation consultant can assess for tongue ties impeding a proper latch.
If your symptoms don't improve in a few days or you suspect a yeast infection, contact your doctor for specialized nipple creams or oral thrush medication.Access into SHE SAYS: I Almost Stopped Breastfeeding My Baby Due to Sore Nipples to know about more reasons and solutions to nipple sensitivity and pain.
Managing Leaking and Engorgement
The first few days after giving birth bring major breast changes - namely, engorgement. As your milk comes in around days 3-5 postpartum breasts swell intensely, becoming rock hard and leaky.
This is your body's normal process of ramping up milk production to feed your newborn. But the sudden fullness and pressure can be agonizing.
While uncomfortable, rest assured engorgement is temporary. Here are some tips to find relief during this phase:
- Go topless when possible to alleviate pressure
- Gently massage breasts toward the nipple to encourage drainage
- Apply cold compresses to ease throbbing and inflammation
- Take over-the-counter pain medication as needed
Remember, frequent nursing is key. Offer baby the breast anytime your breasts feel overly full to help prevent engorgement. This ensures complete drainage as your supply regulates, usually by week 6.
For inevitable leaks, disposable or reusable nursing pads are a must to soak up excess milk. Be sure to change pads every 2-3 hours or whenever wet. You can also collect those liquid gold drops - small manual pumps or milk catchers like the momcozy allow you to store extra milk rather than lose it to leaking. The Momcozy S12 Pro is a great hands-free pump option that evenly and comfortably drains engorged breasts when needed. Its adjustable suction mimics baby's natural rhythm.Know more benefits to breast,explore Is Breast Pump Good for the Breast?
When to Call the Lactation Pro
Reach out to a lactation consultant or your doctor if you experience:
- Severe pain not improving after 1 week of troubleshooting
- Bleeding, blisters, or cracks on the nipple
- Lumps, hard spots, or masses in the breast tissue
- Fever, body aches, chills indicating infection
Trust your mama instincts - you know your body best. Any major breast changes warrant a professional assessment.
Caring for Your Breasts is Self-Care!
Nourishing your baby is hard work - be sure to nourish your breasts in return. Treat challenges proactively and know when to seek help. You've got this, mama! Keep the girls healthy and happy on your breastfeeding journey.
Frequently Asked Questions about Breast Health
Why should I wear a bra while breastfeeding?
Ditching your bra may sound tempting when nursing, but a good supportive bra is key for keeping the girls comfortable. Opt for nursing bras designed to make feeding easy while providing relief for engorged boobs. Those sore milk makers need TLC!
What bra styles are most comfy for breastfeeding?
For blissful breastfeeding, you can't go wrong with a super soft, stretchy nursing bra without any irritating tags or seams. Pull-over styles make nursing access a breeze. This combo gives you the lift you need without feeling restrictive.
How can I prevent engorged and plugged up boobs?
Keep an eye out for rock hard, painful breasts - a sign of engorgement or clogged ducts brewing. Try gently pumping or hand expressing a little milk for relief. Fully draining the breasts prevents excess buildup. But don't overdo it, or you'll boost supply instead!
Any tips for breast cleanliness during nursing?
Hygiene is extra important for lactating breasts. Get into the habit of rinsing nipples with warm water and mild soap before feedings. Let those puppies air dry after to avoid irritation. And swap nursing pads frequently to stop moisture buildup. Keeping the area clean prevents infection.
Should I wear a nursing bra while weaning?
Even as you wean baby off breastfeeding, a supportive bra remains vital. Any stimulation can spur milk production, leading to engorged, uncomfortable breasts. Nursing bras provide comfort as your supply decreases. Don't ditch them until you're fully dried up!
How can I reduce engorgement during weaning?
You can pump to gently ease pressure if your breasts become engorged. But limit sessions - you don't want full milk production again! As baby nurses less, your supply will steadily drop. Consider donating extra breast milk to help moms in need during the transition.