Breastfeeding is by far the best, most natural way to feed your baby. Getting started breastfeeding, though, can be a little intimidating, scary and even painful in those early days. Knowing how to prepare the breast for breast-feeding both prior to delivery and in the early days of nursing will help you reduce or even prevent the pain of sore or cracked nipples and fatigue, and ultimately make your nursing experience the most pleasant it can be.
Step 1» Massage your breasts to get used to handling them as much as you’ll need to while nursing. Ask your obstetrician or nurse-midwife about techniques they recommend. Learning effective massage will also help you prepare for expressing milk manually or preparing them for pumping.
Step 2» Determine if you have flat or inverted nipples. Many women don’t pay close enough attention to their nipples until it comes time to nurse. While inverted or flat nipples can make nursing a little more challenging, it is certainly not impossible.
-You may choose to wear breast shields in your bra that have a ring in them that applies pressure gently to the area around the nipple to help it stay out.
-The “Hoffman” technique might be worth a try to encourage inverted or flat nipples to stay out. Start by placing your thumbs on each side of the nipple, then pressing into the breast tissue while pulling your thumbs apart from each other gently.
– During ante-natal classes early on during my first pregnancy, we were told that a good way to get the nipple out before the baby arrives is by asking your husband to suck on it constantly. It helps the nipple and helps promote closeness between the couple.
Step 3» Care for the skin of your nipples and areolas starting in the last couple months of your pregnancy by watching which soaps and lotions you use on your skin.
-A woman’s body produces special oil in the areolar glands, which naturally clean them, so soap isn’t really necessary. If you do use soap, rinse it off thoroughly. Or switch to a sensitive skin soap to cut down on the amount of irritants on your skin.
-The same applies for laundry detergent. Wash any fabric that’ll come in contact with your bare breasts – your bras, nightgowns, and even nursing pads in sensitive skin soap, to keep irritants away from your skin.
-Try lanolin-based creams if you need to apply anything to your nipple area. Doctor-recommended ones designed for nursing moms are often carried at maternity clothing stores, baby needs stores and pharmacies
Step 4» Invest in a good breast pump, even if you plan to nurse exclusively. You’ll want to use the pump to remove as much milk as you can in the first couple of weeks you are breastfeeding. This may require pumping both breasts as soon as your baby finishes feeding as infants often fall asleep before emptying both breasts. Finish emptying the breasts with a pump and store the milk in the refrigerator or freezer.
Producing as much milk as possible early on increases your breasts’ capacity for making milk; it’s your body’s own version of supply and demand, which helps set your body up for successful breastfeeding as long as you and your baby choose to continue.
Step 5» Buy some soft washcloths and tea bags to make warm compresses for sore or cracked nipples and for engorged breasts.
-Chances are good your nipples will crack at some point early on in your nursing experience. While breast care creams will help relieve pain, natural methods work well too. Express a small amount of breast milk and rub it gently across the nipples then let it air dry. Or soak a tea bag in warm water, squeeze out most of the moisture and slip it into your bra between the fabric and the nipple. The tea soothes the cracked nipple and helps it heal.
-If the breasts become overly full or engorged, you’ll want to gently press a warm wet washcloth around the swollen or hardened milk ducts to soften them up. Of course, the best way to relieve engorged breasts is to put your baby to your breast. It may be painful momentarily as the baby first latches on to the engorged breast, but as soon as the milk starts to flow, you’ll experience great relief