Nursing 101: All About Breastfeeding

More Breastfeeding Tips

Breast Friends

Theoretically, all you need to breastfeed is a breast. In reality, all of these products help ensure success.

  • Medela Cure Swabs help heal sore spots (800-435-8316 or medela.com).
  • Glamourmom's Tank Top Nursing Bra is cute, comfy, and discreet (888-579-4666 or glamourmom.com).
  • Gerber Breast Therapy Warm or Cool Relief Packs relieve engorgement and sore nipples (Babies "R" Us).
  • The First Years Disposable Lanolin-Covered Pads replace sticky creams (thefirstyears.com).
  • Peaceful Pea's Nursing Nest makes it easier to nurse lying down -- great for c-section moms (peacefulpea.com).

The Rules of Engorgement

Even if you nurse often, sometimes your breasts still get engorged. It's hard for a baby to latch on to a rock-hard breast, so here's how to relieve that painful feeling and get the milk flowing.

  1. Stay cool. Applying ice packs or bags of frozen peas to your breasts is one way of easing the pain. Another tried-and-true remedy? Cabbage leaves! Keep a large head of green cabbage in your refrigerator or freezer. When you feel sore, peel off a leaf, stick it in your bra, and voila! An instant breast-shaped ice pack.
  2. Take a warm shower. Heat promotes the flow of milk. You'll lose a little milk in the process, but if you're nursing regularly, there's more where that came from.
  3. Express yourself. Expressing a small amount of milk manually or with a pump can help soften things up so baby can latch on more easily.
  4. Take it lying down. Lying on your stomach relieves the pull of gravity and for some women soothes the pain.

Nursing Shopping List

These supplies will help make nursing easier, which will increase your odds of nursing longer.

  • Several supportive nursing bras. Look for styles without an underwire. The wire can dig into your milk duct and interfere with milk production.
  • Lanolin ointment designed for nursing moms. It helps soothe sore nipples.
  • A nursing pillow. These clever, inexpensive pillows save your back and help you position baby more easily.
  • Nursing pads. You'll have far less laundry to do if you place these absorbent pads in your bra to catch leaks.
  • A breast pump. There are many kinds, from handheld to electric. All of them help relieve engorgement and may even allow you to prepare some reserve bottles so you can leave your little one with a sitter for a few hours.

Hey, That Hurts!

Your breasts have never been subjected to the jaws of a hungry newborn before, so for most moms, it hurts in the beginning. But cracked, bleeding nipples and constant pain are a signal that you need some help; your baby may not be latched on correctly. A lactation consultant can help correct your baby's latch through positioning and exercises, and she can also offer advice on how to heal your nipples.

Sometimes nursing pain is caused by an infection called mastitis, when bacteria enters the breast and multiplies in a milk duct. If you have it, the infected area will become hot and red, and you'll also suffer flulike symptoms. Nursing, safe antibiotics, and warm compresses help heal the infection.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, August 2004.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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