Babies need breastmilk as soon as they are born, both to survive and thrive.
Your body knows this – and begins to prepare your breasts to deliver milk to your baby from the moment that you conceive.
However, in my years of conducting prenatal classes, I have found that most expecting moms do nothing to prepare their breasts for breastfeeding.
This is a mistake. Here is how you should prepare your breasts for breastfeeding.
- Get comfortable with your breasts
Spend some time observing your breasts in the mirror every day.
Stand in front of the mirror without your shirt for a few minutes every day and observe the changes in your breasts. As your pregnancy progresses you will see that your breasts increase in size, the areolas enlarge and darken, and so on.
Take time to observe your nipples and reach out to your doctor if you think they are inverted.
Recognize their importance and you will be motivated to take care of them.
2. Focus on breast hygiene
Take a bath every day with lukewarm water.
Do not apply soap on the nipples. Soap tends to crack nipples and makes them prone to infection.
Dry the area under the breasts thoroughly. As breasts grow, the area below the breasts can accumulate sweat and the moisture can lead to fungal growth.
3. Wear a comfortable bra
The size of your breast will change as your pregnancy progresses. Expect your breasts to enlarge and keep changing your bra size to ensure that you are comfortable.
Your bra should encase the entire breast without causing any underarm or midline bulging.
The size of the cup should be large enough to ensure that the nipples and mammary tissues are not compressed.
The bra straps should be sturdy and wide enough to prevent your breasts from sagging. But they should not pull on your shoulders either.
4. Massage your breasts
In the third trimester – begin massaging your breasts with a natural oil like virgin coconut oil before your bath.
The massage must not last for more than 2 minutes and should be done very gently to avoid damaging the nipple and breast tissue.
The massage strokes should be directed at drawing out the nipple such that your baby can easily latch on at birth.
It is best to consult your doctor before you begin breast massage so that you do it correctly and do not end up with any complications.
Do arm and shoulder exercises once a day to ensure good blood circulation to the breast and to maintain muscle tone.
Rotate your arm in the clockwise and anti-clockwise direction.
Lift the arms up and down.
Bring your arms to the front to touch the palms and then bring your arms back to your side.
Do these exercises gently and slowly for not more than 5 repetitions and check with your doctor before doing them.
Your breasts are going to be used almost 24 hours a day for the first three months after the birth of your baby. Pamper them through your pregnancy to make them resilient so that they tide over the heavy work without causing you too much trouble.
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant, and the founder of WPA whatparentsask.com She conducts online and offline workshops on parenting for schools and corporate organisations. She also conducts online and offline prenatal and infant care classes. She is a well-known thought-leader in parenting and an expert on play, learning and eating habits. Her books on parenting are published by Juggernaut Books and are among their most read books. She is frequently quoted in national and international publications of repute for her empathetic and compassionate approach to parenting and her application of physiology and brain science to parenting.