Breastfeeding - what the experts say
- Leaking breasts
It’s very common for milk to leak spontaneously from the breasts during the early weeks. This can happen when you hear a baby cry, when your baby hasn’t nursed for several hours, when you’re thinking about your baby, during sexual relations or when you feel a strong emotion. These leaks can be annoying but they are no cause for concern. Simply place a cotton pad in your bra to absorb them.
Cracks, which occur more frequently among women with light skin and hair, generally appear only during the baby’s first weeks of life. They occur with varying degrees of severity, from a simple irritation on the nipple to a bleeding crack. Causing great pain during feeds, they can generally be avoided by taking the following precautions:
- Don’t remove the breast skin’s protective sebum by washing it too frequently; one shower a day with a gentle cleansing gel is sufficient.
- Make sure your baby is positioned correctly, facing the breast with his mouth wide open so he can latch onto the entire nipple.
- After the feed, dry your nipple and apply a protective nipple cream.
- If cracks have formed, let your breasts air out as long as possible and regularly spread a restorative nipple cream on your painful nipples.
Engorgement, a condition that very commonly occurs when the milk first comes in, leads to hard and painful breasts. The best way to avoid this condition is to nurse your baby as often as possible. If the engorgement persists, you can hand-express breast milk by gently massaging the areola between your fingers. You may want to express milk under a warm shower, which helps the milk flow more easily. If you’re not successful, you can also use a breast pump. Continue the process until the hardness and pain disappear.
- Lymphangitis and inflammatory mastitis
Lymphangitis is characterized by a large and very painful swelling of the breast, which becomes red and hot. You may also experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever, extreme fatigue and aches and pains. If you suspect you have lymphangitis, take the following steps immediately:
- Nurse your baby as often as possible, especially on the painful side.
- Have complete bed rest, with your baby at your side.
- Apply wet, hot towels to your painful breast or use ice if it’s more effective at relieving the pain.
- If there’s no improvement within 24 hours, call your doctor. You’ll probably need to be treated with an antibiotic. You do not, however, have to stop breastfeeding when you have lymphangitis.