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Lisy Peters, APN, IBCLC

Your question:
I tried to breastfeed my son, but it only worked for one week. Later someone told me I should've rubbed my nipples with a washcloth in the shower every morning to "rough them up." Does this really help ? I'm pregnant and I want to try to breastfeed again and I really want it to work this time.

The expert answers:
I assume you had a difficult time continuing breastfeeding last time due to sore nipples. I am glad you are determined to try breastfeeding this time and wish you a most joyous breastfeeding experience.

The information you received to toughen your nipples to prepare for breastfeeding is outdated and doesn't have any proven benefits. In fact there is nothing a pregnant woman needs to do to prepare her breasts for breastfeeding and the only thing she needs to do to prevent sore nipple is to ensure that the baby is correctly latched on to breast during feeding.

Your breasts and nipples have their natural mechanism to keep them healthy. The small raised lumps on the areola (darkened skin around the nipple) called the montgomery tubercles continuously produce small amounts of lubricating fluids that keep the skin of the nipple supple and moist. Therefore it is recommended that women do not wash or scrub their nipple vigorously during pregnancy or any other time, as this can remove the natural protection. Washing with plain water once daily during shower is generally adequate for cleansing during breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt
Listed are some of the tips you should do next time to prevent sore nipples:

  • Initiate breastfeeding soon after the birth of your baby, preferably within 30 minutes. This is the time your baby is very alert and interested in nursing.

  • Get help from the hospital lactation consultant or nurses to correctly position the baby at breast for the first few nursing sessions.

  • Position yourself comfortable with back support, pillows supporting your arms and your feet supported by footrest.

  • Position the baby comfortable, very close to you, with his ear, shoulder and hip in line, so he does not have to turn his head to reach for the breast.

  • Support your breast with one hand, away from the areola, and make sure the baby open his mouth wide enough to get the nipple and good amount of areola inside the mouth.

    Enjoy! If it does not feel comfortable detach and reposition the baby. Get help from breastfeeding expert as soon as you feel something going wrong.PregnancyAndBaby.com

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