Postpartum Breast Care

Make sure you clean your breasts. Do not use soap. Use a wash cloth and warm water. Soap should not be used as it dries out the natural oils.

Your diet directly affects the quantity of your milk. You need the same well balanced meals you needed during pregnancy. Increase your protein and carbohydrate intake for an extra 500 calories a day. Drink plenty of fluids, approximately 10 to 12 8-ounce glasses daily.

Allow breast to air dry completely after each feeding (10-15 minutes).

Positioning

Proper placement is the key to a comfortable and successful breast-feeding experience. Begin by washing your hands and getting into a comfortable position. Place a pillow on your lap to support the baby and another under the arm that holds the baby and behind your back. Place baby on his/her side so that baby’s lower arm goes around your midriff and the front of his/her body is facing the front of yours. Baby should be directly in front of your nipples. Baby’s head should be in front of your nipples. With your free hand, place all fingers under your breast far enough back that no fingers touch the dark area around your nipple, with your thumb on top. Gently tickle baby’s lower lip with your nipple. This signals baby to open wide.

When baby’s mouth is very wide, quickly bring him close so his nose touches the breast. Try to get as much of the areola (brown area surrounding the nipple) into the baby’s mouth as possible.

You can feel the nipple being pulled out but there should not be pain and you should not be able to hear the baby making smacking sounds while sucking. If it burns or cuts when baby sucks, or baby is making the smacking noise, he is not properly latched on. Put your finger in the corners of baby’s mouth between the gums and break the suction and try again.

Do not be discouraged! Many new mothers will have to try several times to get baby latched on correctly. If pain continues, you should ask for help. If need be, we can refer you to one of the breast feeding programs offered through the hospital.

How Long to Nurse

Your baby will give you clues as to how long to nurse. Baby will begin to slow down and doze off about 10 minutes into a feeding. That’s the time to use your finger to break the suction and remove baby from your breast and you can position yourself and baby to take the other breast and nurse until baby is satisfied and falls asleep.

ALWAYS use your finger in baby’s mouth as described above when removing baby from the breast.

How Frequently to Nurse

Breast milk digests easily so breast fed newborns need to nurse every 1½ to 3 hours. This amounts to 8 to 12 times in 24 hours and they nurse around the clock!

Breast Infection While Breast Feeding

It is very common to get a breast infection while breast feeding, this is called Mastitis. Most times this is managed without antibiotics. Keep in mind that the infection comes from bacteria in the baby’s mouth. You will not give the baby an infection if you continue to feed on the problematic breast! In fact, that is part of the cure. Additionally, you should use warm compresses to the affected area as often as needed. Tylenol is OK to use as well. If the infection doesn’t resolve in 48 hours with continued feeding, warm compresses and Tylenol, then call the office.