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Breast Care After Birth

Image of woman
Moist heat, like a shower, helps to reduce pain from swelling.

A few days after your baby’s birth, you will notice breast changes. They are likely to feel tender and heavy. This is normal. To help prevent breast soreness and control irritation, follow these tips:

Managing Breast Fullness

  • Use moist heat to encourage milk flow;  cold compress after for comfort.

  • Breastfeed often to keep milk from clogging your breast ducts.

  • Express a few drops of milk prior to feedings  if your breasts are so full that your nipples flatten.

  • The best way to control breast problems is to keep your milk flowing. Infections in the breast (mastitis) most often occur when milk collects and inflames the breast’s fatty tissue.

  • If infection does occur, your milk is still fine for baby.

Image of baby suckling
Baby's tongue should always be under your nipple.

Preventing Sore Nipples

  • Make sure baby latches on to your breast correctly. The baby’s tongue should always be under your nipple.

  • Do not use alcohol, soap, or scented cleansers on your breasts. These can cause the nipples to dry and crack.

  • Do not wear nursing pads that are lined with plastic. They hold in moisture and cause chapping.

Choosing a Good Bra

Wearing the right size bra is especially important now. If a bra is too tight, it may cause a duct in your breast to clog and become irritated. If possible, have a salesperson help fit you for a new bra. Look for one that’s 100% cotton and without underwires. Also, choose a bra with wide straps that won’t dig into your back and shoulders. If you’re breastfeeding, find a nursing bra that allows you to uncover one breast at a time.

If you are not breastfeeding:

  • Avoid stimulation of nipples

  • Wear a tight-fitting bra

  • Apply ice packs for discomfort

Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:

  • A fever or chills

  • Extreme tiredness and body aches, as if you have the flu

  • Burning or pain in one or both breasts

  • Red streaks on a breast

  • Hard or lumpy spots in one or both breasts

  • A feeling of warmth or heat in one or both breasts

  • Breasts so swollen your baby cannot latch on to the nipples

  • Nipples that start bleeding

  • Low milk supply or your milk does not flow freely

© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.