Today, Juliet shares her experience as both a mum and baby store owner on the topic of breastfeeding and products to help you along.
During the first few months of breastfeeding especially, your nipples and areola take a beating whilst getting used to their new job.
There are several products on the market to look after your breasts and nipples while breastfeeding.
Here is a rundown:
- Disposable Breast Pads
Disposable breast pads are used to soak up any excess milk after a feed or leakage. They can save you from the embarrassing wet patch on your clothing.
Frequently they are individually packed and have adhesive areas to hold them in place. It is worth it to leave a pair in your bag when you're out, for those unexpected waves of milk.
Look for pads that are tapered around the edges so they sit more discreetly. I also found that I preferred if they were not too thick either as regular changes are preferable to minimise bacterial growth and to reduce irritation. Some brands like Chicco have antibacterial qualities but regular pad changes are the best option even with the anti-bacterial protection.
- Reusable / Washable Breast Pads
These are great for the environment and fantastic if you are really organised and/or mainly at home. They are a little thicker in general and due to the minimal tapering around the edges are less discreet. I often found that the edges of the pads could be seen under a fitted top. And because I was rarely organised I still needed the disposable pads while I was on-the-go or not on top of the clothes washing.
- Hydrogel Pads
Hydrogel pads are a must for the early weeks of feeding as they promote rapid healing as well as protecting the nipple and areola thus reducing potential pain. These sterile pads are made of a water-based gel that helps soothe the pain and hydrate the skin to reduce irritation. A breast pad over the top of the Hydrogel pads is advisable for any milk that escapes.
This is a must take-to-hospital item if you intend to breastfeed. The Hydrogel pads are most effective if used at the first signs of redness or irritation.
- Hot/ Cold Gel Pack
Gel packs have a dual function. When warmed they can help to stimulate the flow of milk before breastfeeding and when cooled they soothe red and inflamed breasts. The gel packs that are sold for breastfeeding are designed to fit over the curve of your breast.
- Nipple Shield
Nipple shields are used while you are actually feeding. They cover the nipples and areola protecting the area and relieving the pain as your baby sucks. There are holes in the tip of the shield for milk to pass through. Most nipple shields are thin and soft, largely made of silicone and some come in different sizes to ensure a better fit. Useful for mothers who have flat or inverted nipples.
- Breast Shell
Sore or cracked nipples need to be protected between feeds. Nipple shells provide a barrier between the nipples and clothing, reducing any further irritation, giving time for healing and recovery. Nipple shells should have ventilation holes to allow airflow.
- Nursing Balms
Nursing balms are also helpful with soothing painful nipples and areola areas. Just check the balm has a safe formulation for both you and your nursing baby.
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