There is no doubt that breastfeeding is the natural way to nourish your baby. However, the early days are a learning period for both mother and baby. Preparing for breastfeeding while you are pregnant and seeking support once your baby is born can help to establish breastfeeding far more smoothly.
While you are pregnant, you will more than likely receive well intentioned advice from family, friends and even strangers on the street (!) about how to prepare your breasts for breastfeeding. The truth is breasts know how to prepare themselves for breastfeeding, without any intervention on your part, and many of the tips you will be offered have the potential to harm your breasts.
The most commonly held notion is that the nipples need to be ‘toughened up’ to prepare them for the rigors of breastfeeding. There is no doubt that breastfeeding can be uncomfortable in the early days. Your nipples may still be very sensitive due to the changing cocktail of hormones in your body and this can result in discomfort. However as these days pass you should find this discomfort easing. Now amount of ‘toughening’, such as roughing up your nipples with a hard towel, is going to prevent your nipples from being sensitive. More over this harsh treatment can damage the delicate tissue of the nipples, potential resulting in broken skin which can introduce infection. When offered these ‘tough love’ suggestions it is best to politely confirm you have breast care under control and change the subject.
Your breasts do not require creams, lotions or potions during pregnancy. That said, everybody likes soft skin and the application of your favourite body cream or oil should be perfectly fine during pregnancy. Check with your doctor or midwife if you are unsure about the safety of ingredients in the product. Naturally if you experience any pain, stinging, broken skin or bleeding in the breast area, this should also be referred to your doctor or midwife.