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Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Breast Care: Before And After The Baby

Breast care is an important part of breastfeeding. Your comfort may influence whether you decide to breastfeed or continue to breastfeed.

To help ensure a successful breastfeeding experience for you and your baby, follow these guidelines:

  • Clean the nipples and areolas with plain water. Avoid the use of harsh cleansers.
  • Avoid lotions, ointments, astringents and creams, such as petroleum jelly, zinc oxide, bag balm, baby oil, anesthetic creams or sprays, hand creams, vitamin E, body butter, alcohol. The repeated use of these products can clog the nipples and also change their taste, causing the infant to refuse to nurse. Glands on the areola called Montgomery glands secrete a lubricant to protect the nipples and areolas from drying out. It is not unusual to leak colostrum while you are pregnant, but do not squeeze your nipples to make it come out.
  • After delivery, if you have a crack or tenderness, express breast milk onto your nipple and use a small amount of a pure lanolin product, one designed specifically for breastfeeding, unless you have an allergy to lanolin.
  • Do not twist or pull on the nipples. This may remove a very important layer of skin called keratin. Keratin helps prevent breakdown of the nipples.
  • Avoid wearing tight bras and other clothing that is binding. This can cause localized pressure on the delicate breast tissue, resulting in discomfort and plugged ducts.

Last updated February 24, 2010




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