What do I have to do to prepare my breasts for breastfeeding? I have heard things like "roughing them up" is a good way to prepare them so they won't hurt.
There is very little you need to do to prepare your breasts for breastfeeding.
"Roughing up" the nipples by rubbing them with a towel is no longer recommended. It has been found that doing so can remove the protective substances produced by the breast during pregnancy and afterwards. Instead, you might want to try some gentle breast massage. This can help you become more comfortable handling your breasts, and may also be useful later on if you need to express your milk. Information on breast massage can be found in the book THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, available from LLL Groups or from the LLL catalog.
It is a good idea to check for flat or inverted nipples while you are pregnant, as this can sometimes make it a bit more difficult for a baby to latch on to the nipple correctly. You can speak to your local LLL Leader (before your baby is born) about how to check for inverted nipples and how to deal with them. But these are rare, so don't worry if you know they are not inverted. Your doctor could tell you also.
It's possible that you have heard that breastfeeding will make your nipples sore. In most cases, sore nipples are caused by poor positioning or improper latch.
Lotions are generally not necessary. Your nipples are already producing what they need for their protection. If you have a skin condition such as psoriasis or eczema, you may wish to ask your dermatologist what you can use. Be sure to tell the doctor you will be breastfeeding, as that can make a difference in the type of treatment prescribed. Also, do not use soap on your breasts, as this can dry them out. When you bathe or shower, rinsing with clear water is fine. If your nipples are very dry, you may wish to apply a lubricant.
Cracked and bleeding nipples are not a normal sign of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not meant to be painful - if it is, you need to find out why, and correct it. The main cause of sore nipples is improper positioning. The baby should be face to nipple, and tummy to tummy with you. The baby's chin should be just below the nipple, and the baby needs to open wide to take in a good mouthful.
You might want to attend LLL meetings in your area before your baby is born, or at least contact the Leader for your area. LLL meetings are a mother-to-mother sharing of ideas, information, and encouragement. It can be very helpful to see other mothers breastfeeding. As well, each Group has a lending library of books on breastfeeding, pregnancy and childbirth, nutrition, and parenting. Check out the section of our Web site entitled Finding a Local LLL Group.
Our collection of Web resources contains more helpful information on preparing to breastfeed that may be helpful to you.
Our FAQs present information from La Leche League International on topics of interest to parents of breastfed children. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's lifestyle. This information is general in nature and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise. If you have a serious breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader. Please consult health care professionals on any medical issue, as La Leche League Leaders are not medical practitioners.