Breastfeeding has several benefits for a baby. Those babies who are only fed breast milk for the first six months of their lives can gain antibodies that are present in the breast milk. These help babies fight off any virus or bacteria that may infect them.
However, not all women might want to breastfeed and that’s completely ok. Breastfeeding your child is a personal choice and you need to make that decision before your baby is born. Although experts will advise you to exclusively breastfeed your child for six months, you may even go for formula milk on the advice of your doctor.
If you do decide to breastfeed, here are some ways to prepare for it when you’re pregnant:
Preparing for Breastfeeding
Although many may think that breastfeeding comes naturally to women, the reality is that it may not always be as easy as you think. A few things can be done in advance to make it easier for new moms. Here are a few ways in which you can prepare for breastfeeding while you’re still pregnant:
- Massage your breasts
When you go for your prenatal check-up, your doctor will advise you to massage your breasts regularly. During the last six weeks of your pregnancy, massaging your breasts can clear your milk ducts. Apart from this, you should also try to keep your breasts well moisturized to prevent any cracking. Cracked nipples can cause a lot of pain during breastfeeding so taking the right precautions can ease the process. If you have flat or inverted nipples, you can think about investing in Breast shells.
- Keep your supplies ready
Even before your baby arrives, it might be a good idea to invest is breastfeeding supplies and keep them ready. You will need nursing bras, pads, ointment for sore and cracked nipples, and comfortable clothes to nurse in. These are the bare necessities of breastfeeding. You should also consider investing in a good nursing pillow as it can greatly ease the physical pain mothers experience while breastfeeding. You can also try more positions when you have a good breastfeeding pillow.
- Create your nursing space
Before your baby arrives, make sure you create a comfortable space at your home where you can easily nurse your child. Add a comfortable chair or allocate a place in which you can sit while breastfeeding your little one. Put some pillows around and make space to put things away. You can also keep things for yourself, like books or music, so that you can enjoy these little comforts while your baby is breastfeeding.
- Try for a natural birth
Studies have shown that babies who are born naturally with very little medical intervention are more likely to breastfeed well. On the other hand, babies born with more medical assistance have lower rates of successful breastfeeding. However, that doesn’t mean if you have a C-section your baby will not have breastfeeding success. Many women who have had C-Section deliveries have nursed their babies successfully for a long time. One way of ensuring breastfeeding success is to try your best to have your baby nurse from your breast within the first two hours of birth.
Tips for Breast and Nipple Care during Pregnancy
Many women do not follow a proper breast care routine during pregnancy. This can make it difficult for them when their baby arrives and is ready to breastfeed. Here are some tips for proper breast care during pregnancy:
- Choose your bra carefully
Your breasts will continue increasing in size right from the first trimester. This means you may have to change your bra size a couple of times during your pregnancy. Make sure you wear the right sized bra to avoid suffocation and discomfort. Avoid tight-fitting bras and go for softly padded cotton ones. Stay clear of underwired bras as they tend to block milk ducts and hamper milk production.
- Maintain Hygiene
During the last trimester, nipples tend to leak colostrum which is a yellow milk substance. This can happen often and you must maintain your hygiene by changing your bra frequently. This prevents your nipples from being too wet and avoids cracks and infections from forming. You can also use breast pads to keep your nipples dry. Remember to wash your nipples regularly to prevent the liquid from forming a crust around it.
- Protect your nipples
After stepping out from your shower, apply moisturizing cream on the nipples if they feel too dry. Some women may also suffer from sore nipples. In this case, nipple protectors can be used as a pad between the clothing and the nipples. These are some of the many ways in which you can care for your nipples when you’re pregnant.
- Other precautions
While some changes in the breasts are a part of pregnancy, others can be avoided with proper care and precautions. Here are some of them:
- Use warm water to wash your breasts.
- Change your bra on a regular basis, at least once in a day. This prevents discomfort due to sweat and leakage from the nipples.
- Check your breasts every day for any changes. If you notice any irregular changes that cause you worry, contact your doctor.
- Try simple exercises like arm rotations and make them a part of your everyday work out. This prevents your breasts from sagging during pregnancy.
Pregnancy can be a testing time for new mothers and many may not take care of their bodies. It is important to pay attention to your breast and nipple health during this time. Not only does this help keep your post-pregnancy body in a good shape for many years, it also ensures breastfeeding success. If you need to know more about breastfeeding tips and ways to overcome common discomforts during breastfeeding, get in touch with our lactation experts in KIMS Cuddles.