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Breast care during breastfeeding - your questions answered

23 May 2018 Blog
Maternity
Lactation Consultant Vicki Hallion answers some of the most common questions we receive on how to keep your breasts and nipples fit for breastfeeding.

In the first few days after birth, your breasts may change in shape. They may feel heavy and firm, even hard and lumpy. At this time, it is vital to establish a regular feeding cycle to minimise engorgement.

What should I wear?

Once lactation has started, it is important that your bra is not too tight as this can put pressure on your milk ducts and lead to mastitis.

Underwire bras are not recommended.

What should I do to keep my breasts healthy? 

  • Always wash your hands before breastfeeding. There is no need to wash the breasts or nipples.
  • Avoid soap, alcohol based products or creams on your breasts or nipples.
  • Change nursing pads with each feed or when moist.
  • Avoid using plastic-backed nursing pads as they can help bacteria accumulate as a result of not enough air flow getting to breasts and nipples.

What can I do to avoid nipple damage?

  • The best prevention of nipple damage is correct attachment. Ensure correct attachment at all feeds.
  • Try different feeding positions.
  • Observe the shape of your nipple after each feed. Changes, such as pinching or blanching, can be a sign of poor attachment and if left untreated can lead to nipple damage.
  • Allow breastmilk to dry on your nipples as it has antibacterial and healing properties.

I am experiencing pain, what should I do?

You should not experience a pinching pain when breastfeeding, however if you do this may be a sign of poor attachment. If you do start to feel pain, detach your baby from your breast and try again.

If pain persists, speak to your midwife or your local child health nurse for advice.

If you experience pain in your breasts when you are not feeding, you can take a mild painkiller for relief, but please see your family doctor if the pain lingers.

Vicki Hallion - Lactation Consultant

Vicki Hallion is a lactation consultant at St John of God Murdoch Hospital who is passionate about helping women have successful breastfeeding experience. She has worked at the hospital for more than 20 years as a midwife and lactation consultant.