When your baby is growing and developing for forty weeks, your uterus provides nourishment and warmth; once your little is out of the womb, your breasts may play that role, acting as a source of comfort and sustenance. As such, if you plan on breastfeeding, they will be an important facet of your child's growth during the first few months, and even up to a year or longer. Because of this, breast care during and after pregnancy will be vital in order to provide your child with the best milk and to make sure that your breasts themselves remain healthy. If you don’t plan on breastfeeding, it will still be important to take care of yourself as your breasts will be affected by the pregnancy! Below, we have tips for all of these stages.
Lots of changes are happening to your body while you are pregnant. Week by week, it seems that you and your baby enter a new stage that requires proper care. One of those components are your breasts. Oftentimes, swollen breasts are one of the first signs that you are pregnant. While there are many things to tend to for forty weeks, making time to look after your breasts will be crucial, to ameliorate pain and provide proper support.
Choose a Good Bra: Your breasts will continuously grow in the first trimester. Thus, you should have a few supportive and comfortable bras. Finding ones that have adjustable straps may help in saving money as your breasts grow week after week. Cotton bras with no underwire will be your best friend during pregnancy.
Use Cold Water for Beneficial Effects: To strengthen your breasts, avoid very hot showers, and end your showers with cold water to firm and help with any damage that may have accrued due to weight and hormonal changes. Furthermore, cold water, or ice packs, will help with any soreness you may be experiencing.
Hydration and Massage: Stretch marks may begin to show early on. While many stretch marks are bound to happen, it is important to ensure that your breasts remain hydrated and moisturized. Hydrate with the product that is best for your skin, but try to avoid any scented moisturizers as they may cause discomfort. Massaging your breasts with oils will help with circulation and keep them firm. Alongside the breasts, moisturizing your nipples will be very important during this time so they do not become too cracked or dry.
Do Exercises: Pregnancy calls for a minimization in exercise. However, you mustn’t stop completely. Simple exercises such as prenatal yoga and long walks will not only be beneficial when giving birth, but they will also help retain firm breasts. Having proper circulation in your body through small exercises will aid in the maintenance of the production of your breasts.
Get Your Breast Pump: Getting your breast pump may be one of the last things on your mind, especially if you plan on solely breastfeeding for the first few weeks or months. However, it is always good to be prepared, as many mothers who choose to breastfeed also utilize a pump. Do your research, and have this ready for you when you need it - you may end up using it earlier than you think! Luckily, many insurance companies cover the cost of breast pumps with proper prescription from your OB-GYN.
Choose a Lactation Counselor: It is recommended that women find a lactation counselor before heading to the hospital. Once again, many insurance companies will cover the cost of this service. Lactation counselors can be important for any mom--breastfeeding is different for everyone, even for a second time mom. Finding someone you can trust and be supported by will help you when it comes to breastfeeding as it can be a stressful, time consuming activity.
Talk with OB-GYN about Health Conditions: Breastfeeding can be difficult. Discussing breastfeeding beforehand with your OB-GYN about possible hindrances will help you create a plan to aid in feeding your baby.
Free Up Time for Breastfeeding: Babies feed a lot, and often. During your pregnancy, start preparing for life when your baby is here. Do this by stocking your fridge with the necessities, and the freezer with frozen meals. Prepare the household in any way you deem fit to help you with the hours you won’t be able to do it later.
After pregnancy, your body is in a state of recovery alongside caring for your little one. Don’t skip the care, especially during this time. You’ll not only want to be happy and healthy for your baby, but for you as well! Plus, efforts to retain the firmness of your breasts isn’t vain - it’s normal!
Utilize Right Breastfeeding Behaviors: If you’ve followed our suggestions for ‘During Pregnancy,’ you may have already had a chat with your lactation counselor and have set up an appointment for after the baby is born. Still, you’ll likely have some knowledge on proper breastfeeding, if you plan on it. Make sure that your baby is latching on correctly and that their mouth is covering the entire areola. After you finish feeding your child, wipe your breast off gently, or let the milk dry to protect them, and apply a moisturizing cream and massage.
Swelling Help: Swelling is very common after birth. To help cope, utilize cold water, compresses, or ice packs to help with the pain. Also, you should breastfeed or pump regularly and often to prevent any clogging of milk in the milk ducts.
Do Exercises: After birth, it will be of great benefit to start exercising again. Strength training or yoga can help aid in firming your breasts by strengthening your pectoral muscles. Planks as well as many posture-focused yoga poses are simple exercises to engage in after giving birth that will support your recovery in the fourth trimester.
Preventing Sore Nipples: To prevent sore nipples, you should make sure that you are practicing the right breastfeeding or pumping behaviors. Furthermore, do not utilize any alcohol based or scented soaps and moisturizers as these can cause drying and cracking.
Choose a Good Bra: Once again, having a great bra on hand will help with any soreness and will offer support. Be sure to be fitted by a professional as a bra too tight may cause a clogged milk duct, and one too loose will allow for sagging. Also, find a bra that has comfortable straps--ones that provide back support but also don’t dig into your shoulders. Do the same with any nursing bras you may get.
If you’re not planning on breastfeeding, eventually your breasts will stop producing milk. However, until that point, you may experience milk leakage and breast enlargement and swelling. This is all normal, but it can be uncomfortable. If this is the case for you, resort to these care tips below.
Avoid Stimulation: Stimulation of the nipples may cause discomfort to them and your breasts. However, this may not be the case for you. Be careful when wearing textured clothing fabrics and engaging in intercourse with your partner. Communicate and understand that your discomfort is more important than a fabulous outfit or nipple stimulation.
Choose a Good Bra: Across the board, choosing the best bra for you is the best way to provide support and aid in the health of your breasts. A good bra for moms who are not breastfeeding may help with any pain you may be experiencing as well as minimize any milk leakage.
Apply a Cold Press or Ice Packs: It may seem strange at first, but just like any other body part, applying a cold press or an ice pack can help reduce swelling and pain. The amount of time you should do this differs from person to person, but it can provide much relief.
Ask about Medicines that May Help Discomfort: Simple, over the counter medications, such as ibuprofen, can help with any pain and discomfort. Be sure to chat with your doctor about how much, how often and which medications you should take to remain healthy but also ease some of those aches.
All in all, taking care of your breasts is a very important aspect of the motherhood journey. During and after giving birth, whether you plan on breastfeeding or not, you should follow these care tips above, and talk to your doctor if you notice anything unusual.